When I glanced upon this article about a “Very educational experience of sitting next to a doctor on a flight” by Mr. Bikram Vohra, my first reaction was …… “Oh no…. Not again!!”
I chuckled…. as I goaded myself to read on…. Columnists these days have developed a special affinity for doctors and their love for this seemingly noble profession seems to only grow, day by day!
Last week my parents were home for lunch and so were a few family friends who happened to be doctors. We don’t need to guess the direction in which the conversation would have veered had I not prohibited it strictly. Social gatherings are no place to discuss medical issues. Considering that these were my own parents, I could take the liberty to put an abrupt end to any health or disease related conversation they wished to have with my doctor friends.
When I joined medical school 21 years ago….. everytime I was home on vacations, either a neighbour or some friends of my parents….would appear out of nowhere with a stack of reports for me to opine on….. even the maids working in the house had a million questions for their “didi”!! If I happened to step out, the building watchman would crib to me about his eyesight. For all these years free advice has been solicited from me from hundreds of people from every strata of the society….. and I have happily complied…
It doesn’t matter whether one is at a social dinner, or a wedding or even a funeral, someone or the other will come up with a medical issue that in their view needs to be addressed there and then…. and obviously on pro bono basis. Who will make the effort to take an appointment from the doctors clinic when she or he is available right there and that too for free.
With the advent of social media and the various platforms that one is visible on…. things have gone a step further. This is the age of T 20 cricket, everything has to be quick and instant. A doctor must respond not only to his email, but also to SMS, WhatsApp, FB messenger, twitter…. etc etc asap…. I would be hesitant to enroll myself even on a dating app like Tinder, purely for the fear that I may get inundated with medical queries even there! Lol….
Why must one come and see a doctor formally when all the queries can be sorted on phone for zero professional fee….. and if tomorrow things were to go wrong one still has the luxury of saving that SMS that can be produced in the court of law as evidence.
Coming back to Mr. Bikram Vohra and his article…. I was initially amused by the guts of this doctor who had the gall to send him a bill for Rs. 15,000…… Then, I grudgingly thought of the thousands or probably lakhs of rupees that I had lost over the last two decades giving free advice 🙂 … After sometime I started to weigh the rights and wrong of whether the doctor should have sent a bill to Mr. Bikram Vohra in the first place……After all this is a noble profession!
Unfortunately, what we forget is that, at the end of the day…. noble or not…. it is a…. “profession”.
Would a lawyer give you legal advice during casual conversation …..or forget that…… would your beautician tell you how much conditioner you need to put on your hair without a proper consult? Would your maid work for you free? Or will your watchman not charge you for his services?
Or the simplest of all questions, would Mr. Vohra write his prestigious column for TOI, free of charge…. minions or no minions….
The answer is NO.
As doctors our biggest responsibility is to our patients and most doctors I know want to help people. Medical fraternity does more than its bit for the society. Unfortunately, it is the only profession that is embarrassed on being called a “profession” and today doctors are being belted more than they are billed. I wish that this unnerving trend of doctor bashing ends soon and people like Bikram Vohra think twice before calling doctors names and writing such senseless columns.
My husband adviced me against writing this post citing that it may hurt my practice. I agree with him that it may happen in the short term but if I keep quiet today about the prejudices, about the violence, about these articles that incite common people against doctors…then things may be even more difficult in the years to come. I know that my patients understand that I would goto any extent to save their lives but it is important for me to say “I”…… before I say …. “I Love…. You”.
Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker
Source = http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/belted-in-and-billed-very-educational-experience-of-sitting-next-to-a-doctor-on-a-flight-f0-9f-98-9c/