Eulogy to a Good Doctor

Apart from being a privilege, to be a doctor is a lifetime responsibility
Representational Image
Representational ImageFile/ GK

The medical profession is considered to be a noble profession. Doctors are tagged as brand ambassadors for the well-being of humankind. During times of health crisis, we look to the Almighty, and then to doctors, in the hope of life.

Times have changed, and doctors are now not held in high esteem by the public, for obvious reasons. When a noble professional shifts to becoming a money-minting profession, it cannot enjoy the same status of being called a messiah.

Just slipping on a white coat and adding a prefix before one’s name won’t command respect from the patients; it has to be earned. So, apart from being a privilege, to be a doctor is a lifetime responsibility.

Moreover, medicine is considered to be a highly sought-after profession. This makes sense if one chooses it for the passion of healing mankind rather than for monetary gains. Otherwise, it’s as good as any other business, making doctors mere businessmen.

If a doctor maintains professionalism and has the necessary acumen to administer his expertise to get the best outcome, a few extra bucks don’t matter. However, when a patient feels that only time and money are being continuously spent without any progress, he’s bound to lose faith in them and form opinions about a doctor, thus affecting the reputation of the medical field.

Lately, I had been seriously ill and took an appointment with a physician about whom I had heard a lot. As we reached the clinic, we saw a long queue of seated patients waiting for their turn. I also took a place and kept waiting for my turn. I desperately wished for time to dash so that I might get somehow relieved of the pain I was in.

It felt like the clock had stuck, and the patients seemed to take ages to come out of the doctor’s cabin. All this while I wished someone to let me in before my turn on account of an emergency case. I requested none, but nobody too did bother, alas! After a long wait, it was my turn to go inside.

The doctor generally started by asking my name and age, checking my height and weight, and then asked about the problem and related issues. He listened patiently to everything I told him, enquired about certain things related to my health condition, examined me properly, and put me on some medication till he would get confirmation from the tests he advised.

This is usually what all doctors do, but the way they do it makes them different from one another. And honestly, this was my first experience where I felt like I’m healing while talking to a specialist.

My brother’s wedding was just a few days away, and the thought of being confined to bed gave me sleepless nights. Days passed by. I got my reports, and now was the time for my second, much-awaited visit to my doctor.

The tests confirmed whatever he had diagnosed on the first examination. Grinning cheerfully, he asked, “Do you remember what I told you when you first visited me?” Smiling back, I responded in the affirmative. This time the conversation was even more cordial and candid, and I made sure to ask him about all the issues concerning my health.

After all was said and done, I couldn’t resist asking him one last question. “It’s my brother’s wedding. Will I be able to survive?” He chuckled and answered, “You’ve survived. You’ll recover soon. Enjoy the feast!” I heaved a sigh of relief. Tears rolling down my cheeks, I told him, “First, I trust Allah and then you. That’s why I am here. I’m tired of visiting doctors. You’re my last resort, and I consider you my saviour.”

On hearing this, he looked up, raised his hands as if in prayer and replied, “I leave you here, and I’m sure you won’t have to visit me again.” I was all smiles and left the chamber, wiping my tears. A lady sitting outside became inquisitive on seeing my numb eyes and asked me if all was well, to which I replied, “Alhamdulillah! I’m cured.”

The physician I visited has all the traits a doctor should possess that a patient expects from a doctor. Defining what makes a good doctor is a tricky job. A good doctor identifies the nature of the problem by probing through various levels.

When treating a sick person, good doctor-patient communication and patient satisfaction are key to sustaining a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship. A good doctor engages in conversation with a patient to collect the necessary information so as to facilitate a correct diagnosis, followed by appropriate medical treatment.

These skills ought to be mastered to achieve the best result, indispensable for efficacious healthcare delivery. Thus, being a doctor is not only about dispensing pills or mending broken bones or torn tissues.

It requires being technically dexterous, knowing the craft of medicine and also some ‘magic’ which comes not from Alladin’s magic lamp but from being an all-inclusive person who is simultaneously erudite, sincere, sympathetic, kind, humble, patient, passionate, optimistic, efficient, equipped, and ready to give his best for his patients’ healing. Much more than medicines, effective communication and strong interpersonal skills go a long way in curing a patient.

Although so many virtues are hard to find in a single soul, medicine is fecund ground for finding such blends, and ‘he’ is the epitome of what a doctor ought to be. His gentle handling of me, his modest demeanor and extraordinary interpersonal skills, while concurrently upholding his professional boundaries and standards, make him an exceptionally good doctor.

A doctor ought to put his paraphernalia to good use, and I saw ‘him’ at his best while treating his patients. He patiently listens to everything a patient tells and keenly considers all that is shown to him. His hands have got a healing touch. He feels everything that is concealed from the eyes and detects that has remained unsaid.

After assimilating the information, he speaks about it to the patient. That’s all a patient wants from a doctor- a kind word, a compassionate attitude, a patient ear and a humble approach. Unfortunately, there are very few doctors who approach their patients in such a professional manner.

Instead, they, even without letting the patient speak entirely, hand over the sloppily and illegibly written prescription to him and ask to revisit after some days.

I find it pertinent to mention here that, unlike most practitioners, ‘he’ is one of the very few doctors who have the neatest and most legible handwriting. Even a non-specialist can read the prescription written by him. This acts as a complement to his already incredible personality.

Every profession requires upholding its ideals and standards, and so does the medical profession. Being a doctor is a blessing and means lessening the pain of others by providing them with proper medical treatment and healthcare. When a doctor restores a person to health, he realizes the magnitude of change he can produce through his efforts.

Seeing the patients heave a sigh of relief when they get better is blissful. What could be more satisfying than the infinite blessings you receive and that smile on your patient’s faces when they feel better? This moment seals a bond between the doctor, the patient and his family.

Hence, being a doctor means being a perpetual source of joy for many and the contentment that comes with healing people is ineffable. Pursuing the dream of becoming a doctor is not just the pursuit of a brilliant career but a pursuit of great responsibility too.

It’s easier to become a good doctor if only you show interest in humanity and genuinely want to help them, and for that, you need to be a good human being first.

Indubitably, we have a plethora of proficient doctors like ‘him’ who should be nurtured, recognized, and acknowledged for their contributions. Such doctors are an asset to a nation for offering their valuable service to the mankind.

Having talked about my marvellous experience with a physician, it might have piqued the curiosity of many to know his name. Certainly, this piece would be incomplete without his name being mentioned here.

The noble soul I have been talking about here is Dr Irfan Ali (Associate Professor, Dept. of Medicine, GMC, Srinagar), who indeed personifies his name.

As I feel better, after Allah, I can’t thank him enough for having helped me at a time when I was going through the worst. I cannot return the favour, but writing a eulogy would be a small token of gratitude. Thank you, Doctor, for helping me heal!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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