August 04, 2014

Being a 'Noble' Professional

When I was a kid, one of my favourite movies was Agnishwar, a Bengali classic, telling the story of a doctor who gave up his life for the service of others. In IIMB I found the Medical Soap Opera; Scrubs and somehow it struck a chord with me as I made my way trying to settle down to a student life once again. While re watching a few episodes in the last couple of weekends, I began to wonder about what it feels to be a doctor these days.

The truth is that I have always felt a pang of jealousy for doctors. You know how this talk about noble professions can corrupt young minds! I truly imagined doctors to be someone different from the rest of us. People who chose to be more than the average Joe, or for that matter more than the average Banjo! And I always felt bad that I never liked biology and thus could never be a doctor.

Whenever I was in the mood for some self deprecating humour, I would joke about how when Godzilla attacked no one was going around looking for an MBA, people always turned to the saviours in uniforms, the most noble amongst them being the man or the woman in the white coat.

When dad had fallen severely ill a couple of years back, reality struck me. I had been living in a make belief world of my own. Doctors are part of humanity and therefore to expect any extra ounce of nobility from them is self defeating. For most doctors today it’s just a job, like any other you or I do. And their job is more difficult than others as they juggle between patients trying to save them and make enough money for themselves in the process.

Doctors today are in a transition. Somewhere deep down perhaps there is still a thin connecting line to the oath they have taken but for most it’s business. And then they have to deal with people like my parents who still consider Doctors to be agents of the Almighty and my sister and me, hardnosed professionals who are respectful but not reverent.

Dad’s was a case of medical negligence and cover up done in the crudest of manners and thanks to the strength shown by ma, we were able to bring him back. While I no longer wish to remember those days, leave alone speak about them, during those troublesome days, I realized something - Dr. Agnishwar Mukherjee will never come back. And you know what? I am absolutely fine with it. But then Doctors today need to learn how to be professional and ready to own up to mistakes and rectify them. And as the recipient of the service, we need to be equally professional.

When Godzilla strikes, we will still call for a Doctor but I would rather that a professional comes to the rescue rather than a facade of an era and people gone by.