WHO WOULD YOU RATHER BE?
-Written by Dr. Tejal Lathia
I often imagine what my life would be like if I was not a doctor or an Endocrinologist, particularly. What would I have done given a do-over, well, these are the professions I would have loved to pursue – a psychologist or an author. Though I really can’t go back at this stage, there are some things that each of these professions has to offer that I use to make my practice more meaningful.
The human mind, why do we behave the way they do, how our behaviour reflects our inner life – human psychology basically – is invaluable in the practice of medicine. Many a time while denigrating people for not following prescriptions and lifestyle modifications, we fail to look a little deeper as to why they are not doing so. Often people are frightened and prefer to avoid situations, they have seen their parents suffer bad fates due to illnesses and the very thought of the disease terrifies them. Sometimes, there are social or financial issues at stake. Only when we understand the motivation for someone’s behaviour, the way opens up – away from judgement and blame, towards compassion and empathy. From right understanding comes right decisions for the person’s care – and ultimately – good health.
An author is something I still hope to become. However, sometimes in my daydreams I want to pursue a degree in English Literature. Books and stories help us understand the broad range of human emotions, show us a glimpse of what people’s lives can be or are. Books, stories are like windows into someone’s life.
Books and stories bring home to us more than anything else, how much we are all alike, no matter how different we think we are. A man in Istanbul suffers the same pain and hurt that a woman in Canada does, for different reasons, but the suffering that stems from pain and hurt is universal. Shorn of our degrees, under our clothes and skin, we are all victims of the human condition.
The patient in the chair in front of us may very well be you or me in a few years or even a few days. Someone we love deeply may suffer someday what the patient in front of us is suffering today. This not only shortens the distance between doctor and patient but shifts the power in the doctor patient relationship to a more even distribution. No longer can we sit high on our pedestals and pass judgment on mere mortals (patients) when we may be off the pedestal at any time ourselves, keeping us ever human.
I think the new generation of doctors already understands the value of not getting mired in medicine alone. I think they understand the value of a broader education beyond medical curriculum alone. I see the social media profiles of so many young doctors proudly displaying their myriad interests, and these only add to their medical practice, I feel. They make them more rounded in their approach, more human.