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On doctor’s day we renew our commitment to our multi-faceted social role

Becoming a medical doctor is a wonderful way of wearing several hats: that of a student, teacher, care-giver, planner, researcher, innovator, administrator and a wholesome contributor. A doctor’s life begins as a student, progresses to that of a scientist and rapidly expands to embrace several other multifaceted roles, making him a true artist in life.

Celebrated on July 1, the Doctor’s Day commemorates the birthday of eminent physician and patriot Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, who was born on July 1, 1882 at Bankipore in Patna. After graduating in medicine in Calcutta he completed his MRCP and FRCS in London and returned to India in 1911. He was inspired by this inscription in his medical college: “Where ever Thy hands find eth to do – do it with Thy might”.

He then joined the Calcutta Medical College and served as an eminent physician and erudite teacher. He was instrumental in starting many hospitals and institutions and for providing care to thousands of patients including the ‘Father of our Nation,’ Mahatma Gandhi.

He started women’s institutions and encouraged women to take up nursing and social work as early as in 1942. He became Vice Chancellor, later Mayor and finally Chief Minister of the state of Bengal. He continued to be a physician till he breathed his last in 1962. Strangely, his demise coincided with his birth day—July 1.

The nation has honoured Dr. Roy with its highest recognition, the Bharath Ratna. The B.C.Roy National Award was instituted in 1976.

Doctors carry a multifaceted responsibility in society. Traditionally, doctors have built their knowledge around their personal anecdotal experiences in a hypothetical process that leads to the efficient increment of content, which is now called “Evidence-based Medicine”. The invasion of technology has revolutionized medicine as a science as well as an art. Hence a doctor needs to be a student, scientist and an artist, all at once.

Doctors are wedded to the following ideals:

  1. Patient care
  2. Practice-based knowledge
  3. Knowledge Sharing
  4. Interpersonal and communication skills
  5. Compassionate professionalism and management skills.

As doctors we need to be aggressive in fighting disease, sympathetic to patients, empathetic to their families, guides to our students, guardians of medical ethics and custodians of our traditions. We, in short, need to be sensitive to emotions, objective and innovative in providing treatment, play the role of technocrats with respect to new inventions and above all be a role model for the society.

We have a phenomenal opportunity to discover humanism by creating a work, performing a deed, experiencing an act and encountering people. We are thrust into the lives of countless patients who need our skills and compassion.

While discharging our responsibilities, we do face many challenges. To know the meaning of life and to make the lives of others meaningful is our fundamental challenge. Sustained delivery of skill and judgment uninfluenced by local adversities is the second challenge. Health is a fundamental right. The state of health is a real indicator of freedom that an individual, society or nation enjoys.

Doctors must think beyond individuals and hospitals to create a unique health care delivery system that secures the health of our society in the future. We need to set our goals and direct every possible resource and technology to achieve this objective. Revamping the health care delivery system in our country is the immediate necessity.

Bangalore being the hub of IT services, we must evolve and adopt policies and practices that result in a completely technology-driven healthcare system. This will enhance our efficiency while optimizing resources. Containing the costs of medical care without compromising on technology is another challenge. We must build indigenous systems to control the costs and make state-of-the-art healthcare systems accessible to common man.

Lastly, only doctors among all professionals face the challenge of having to fight and finally encounter death. Despite all advancements, it is impossible to predict outcomes and risks accurately. It is our experience and preparedness that help us overcome insurmountable problems. Those are the moments when we turn to philosophy and look for divine intervention. DH Lawrence aptly wrote “Our ingress into this world was naked and bare, Our progress in this world is trouble and care, Our egress from this world will be nobody knows where.”

The challenges of health care in the future are likely to be even more daunting. As lifestyles change and life spans increase, we will face many more problems related to ageing. We must emphasise on “preventive medicine” centred around periodic health checks. Hospitals need to adopt software to prepare for these demands.

Research and innovation will be extremely important if we are to develop indigenous technologies and thereby make healthcare accessible and affordable to the common man.

We really do not know where to find God. But it is necessary to follow the right path. Voltaire said “If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him”. We must go forward with this hope into future because as William Osler once said, “Happiness lies in the absorption in some vocation which satisfies the Soul. We are here to add what we can, not to get what we can from life.”

Doctors’ day is a tribute to the efforts of individuals who dedicated their lives to bringing hope and happiness to the life of others. We hope to walk in their footsteps by exhibiting the highest levels of competence, compassion and care in our profession.

We are fortunate to be doctors as this gives us an opportunity to live our lives meaningfully and make many lives meaningful. In light of increasing number of new diseases and escalating costs, balancing technology and medicine and keeping our younger generation motivated is our immediate challenge.

The brain is the crown jewel in the evolutionary chain. I feel blessed for being a neurosurgeon, a profession that allows me to work with this marvel: A symbol of devotion, dedication professionalism, compassion, skill and execution.

See Dr’s day gift: Health plan for doctors!

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