Role of Humanities for Doctors
The journey of being a doctor is not easy at all. The budding doctors have to face immense academic pressure right from the age of around 14 till the time they finally complete their super-specialization. These insane levels of pressure often break people apart from within their own minds.
The rates of depression and suicidal ideation among students of medicine are among some of the highest in the world. These stats don’t even take into account the number of people who die by suicide while taking coaching for pre-medical tests.
The journey of being a doctor brings many harsh lessons along with it. No amount of educational qualification is considered enough to be respected and all the hard work doesn’t always pay off. The first thing people are taught in medical schools in India is that seniors must be respected. This is taught through various means like public humiliation and ragging. Doctors also have to face the beating of a patient’s kin, if they are not happy. The lesson of not being emotionally attached to patients is a classic. All this cynicism and domination leads to a numbness felt by every medicine student out there.
Doctors look at a patient as an illness instead of an actual human. They look at them as a group of symptoms instead of a person with feelings, emotions, beliefs and social relations. The doctors themselves struggle to manage or even have social relations.
An average doctor could list every symptom and treatment for cystic fibrosis but they wouldn’t know how to start a conversation. Being an introvert by personality is different from an institutional, life-long habit of putting down social skills in exchange for better academic abilities.
Humanities in Medicine
Various universities across the world have started introducing subjects of humanities into the curriculum of medical schools. They believe this would lead to a more efficient and ‘humane’ medical work force. The problem that they could face is the lack of knowledge about why these subjects are so important.
I remember when I was in medical school; I would treat subjects like history or philosophy as useless mumbo-jumbo. It is important to sensitize the students and the teachers to the importance of knowing these subjects. Reading subjects like philosophy can make people more broad-minded and open to differing opinions. It would somewhat ironically, make students of science, more scientific.
In my personal opinion, the profession of medicine would be much better served if it wasn’t so closed at all times. A doctor who is competent and kind at the same time is much more effective in treating a patient than one who is competent but rude. There is also the problem of few doctors over charging on prescription medicines. They keep their profit margins above the patient’s needs and this leads to defaming of the whole community.
There may be a lot of bias in this article considering my past with medical school but I stand by my belief that the doctor-patient relationship is dynamic and both the members can learn a lot from the interactions. There is a lot of doom and gloom surrounding doctors right now but I believe more honest and frank doctors would change the perception of doctors in India.