Saturday, March 12, 2011

Role models

We listened to a lecture by Dr. Raymond Alonzo Alonso, a distinguished nephrologist in the country and a member of our faculty. He happens to be one of the most eloquent, inspiring, and sensible people who has lectured in class, and he is a personal favorite. He simply drives the point home. He always carries a can of Coke Zero—or is it Lite?—sipping on it when his throat runs dry, and hardly does he ever look at his notes, as if he has everything stored from memory.

He asked us to think about what kind of doctors we'd like be in the future. A rich businessman who drives a Jaguar. A brilliant academician whose name appears in all sorts of journals. An astute clinician who always gets the diagnosis right. An accomplished policymaker who heads the Department of Health.

We could be any of these things, he said, but we musn't lose our compassion, a fundamental requirement to be a great doctor.

He asked us to think about the doctors we admire. He cited real but unnamed examples who are stellar in their fields but failures in their family lives. His point was that role models are not individuals but traits. I agree. These doctors: they, too, are humans; they, too, are flawed. But it dawned on me that, perhaps for the first time, Dr. Alonso could be missing something.

There once lived a Man who took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4). He healed the leper, the servant, the paralytic, and an entire crowd of helpless infirms (Matthew 8, 9). His name is Jesus, and He is nothing short of perfection, and He is the greatest doctor in history.

And how I desire to be just like Him.

5 comments:

  1. Minor things first, Kuya Lance. First, his last name is spelled Alonso. Second, it's Coke Light. He completely ignored the almost-full bottle of Coke Zero on the table. :))

    On to more important matters, thank you. I was thinking about his question about role models, and try as I might I couldn't come up with a single one. Now I know why. Thanks for the much-needed reminder. :)

    Another thing that didn't quite sit well with me was how it seemed that consultants and other higher-ups can be "excused" for their behaviour towards those at the bottom of the totem pole, while at the same breath we are told to treat our patients with all the compassion we can muster. To me it's a double standard, and it's unacceptable. How do they expect us to be endlessly patient with our patients (pun unintended) when we could probably just be unconsciously projecting the stress they give us? And it's like saying that such behaviour can be tolerated in the context of a heavy workload and fatigue. Don't they always tell us that we don't know what difficulties our patients are really going through? Why should anyone be exempt from practising what is preached?

    Whoops, sorry about that. I just needed to get it off my chest. Maybe I should have written a post of my own instead. :D

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  2. AAce should hire you as proofreader for Medics, Abby! Haha, thanks for reading this entry meticulously!

    I think Sir's point was that we must understand where they—the higher-ups—are coming from. They live a very stressful life, perhaps way stressful than ours when we become clerks or interns, and although the behavior you mentioned is unacceptable (I would agree, and I hope things aren't what they are presently), we must nevertheless contextualize, but not excuse, this error. If we do, we will hardly find ourselves berating or thinking badly of them.

    It's my personal prayer, too, that if the Lord allows me to pursue higher training, I will not lose the compassion I have for our patients, regardless of where I am in the hierarchy. If you ever find me getting mad at a patient, please do the honors of bringing me back to my senses. Haha.

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  3. I get your point, Kuya Lance. I only wish that more than putting their behaviour in context, they too would strive to change it in the same way that they ask us to treat our patients with respect. After all they should want us to emulate them, right?

    That is my personal prayer, too. I doubt we would see much of each other once we're in the clinics, but we can always find time to trade stories. :)

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  4. Exactly, Abby! Oo naman. Let's find time to eat breakfast! Haha.

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  5. hi lance :) dr. alonso was our consultant team captain when i was rotating in MICU (medical ICU) this year and he said it was not coke that he was drinking. he just puts water inside coke cans :) i think it is true because sinilip talaga namin hehe.

    i agree with you. i think even the best consultants have their flaws. no matter how good they are at some point, they snap at us or even at patients, most of the time for good reason. in my past few months as a clerk i personally have experienced being shouted at by residents or consultants several times. it really sucked big time when i first experienced it but as you spend more time in the hospital you will soon realize that they do have a point. i'm not trying to justify what they do, but they usually have a point.

    life in the hospital is very challenging and sometimes i just want to scream at everyone (and sometimes i end up doing so hehe) but you'll find that it's quite hard to lose that compassion. no matter how hard things can get, you will always find it in yourself to get up everyday and do everything in your power to make your patient's life better :)

    sorry for the long post.
    -laura

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