Saturday, August 30, 2008

Doctors, medical students, journalists and the Bloem

A post of a similar nature had been on my mind for quite some time now, but unfortunately owing to the lack of time, textbooks to study and a lot of personal grief had not allowed me to get the job done!

Anyways , the incident at the BLoem a few days back finally made me sit down in front my computer and start typing this post.

Having been a journalist first and a medical student second and hopefully( provided that I pass the innumerable exams) a doctor third, I was initially inclined to believe that the fault lay with the Med Students that attacked the photographers. Later I found out through media reports and first hand anecdotes of the experience from my frnds that the Daily Mirror report had been erroneous ... not surprising they were never a stickler for the truth!
Having worked as a journalist for about 6 or 7 months and been in situations such a the Rupavahinigate incident I learned that a journalists best friend is his PRESS ID. Flash it and your in.. doors that were closed before magically open, the people that weren't willing to talk earlier suddenly become very talkative (provided that you don't reveal their identity.)

A fundamental mistake made the two or three LD journalists was that they refused to identify themselves. Having been in the industry I know personally that having a notepad and pen or a camera in hand does wonders for your ego.. but makes you feel like you are a class above the rest.. after all we are the fourth pillar of democracy.

In any case in this day and age a guy that goes around photographing people or places without identifying themselves is rather suspicious and elicits a certain amount of attention. True. hammering the buggers might have been a ad bit too drastic but then again these Med Students are at the end of their tether with studying until their eyeballs fall out, hectic clinicals and a lot of pent up youthful energy.

Another reason that inspired me to write this post were the comments on the DM web portal, they were discriminative if not abusive towards doctors, but since many doctors don't have the time to log on to the web page let alone glance through the headlines I doubt they cared anyway!

The case is this, a Sri Lankan doctor who comes out through a government university( mind you there are a good many that come from China,Russia, INdia etc.) has literally sacrificed his entire entire young life towards the art(or Science) of Medicine. HAd these individuals chosen another path MAnagement, Accountancy or MArketing they would have completed their degrees in half the time it takes to earn an MBBS.

The average starting salary for a doctor is a paltry 17,000, mind you that is with 6 years of higher education... I earned close to that amount working as a part time creative writer at an ad agency! Ten years , a masters degree and a fellowship later they are rewarded with a salary of 50,000... Factor in the enormous job responsibilities, irregular work hours and extrmely poor working conditions....

In places like the US a doctor earns close to 1 million starting, in the UK a consultant earns more than 2 million even in Malaysia where my dad was rcently offered a post as a lecturer in a Medical Faculty; he was offered close to 700,000.

True, doctors earn a bit of dough with their private practice, but honestly speaking with the current rte of inflation is it possible for a doctor for whom a car, a mobile and fuel are essentials ( not luxuries) to live on 50,000 bucks a month. Then again PP takes place after their regular work hours( if they can ever be termed regular), I mean you wouldn't make a big deal of a peon plucking a few coconuts after his work hours to earn a couple of bucks right?? So whats the big deal about doctors doing private work.. I mean its not as if they are rolling in cash.. a staff officer at HSBC makes more cash than a consultant surgeon!

A common complaint among the public is that doctor who are educated from public funds venture abroad in search of jobs.. I don't blame them! Given the attitude of the authorities in SL I am surprised that any actually stay!

I remember n incident once when a neurosurgeon asked the Hon.Health Minister to order a drill ( bear in mind that this is a basic requirement) the minister asked why? to drill your head??

Everyone in this country be it Nimal Siripala, Mahinda or MErvyn are educated out of public funds, the accountants, the managers all of them are educated in public schools.. don't they go abroad.. whats the big deal about doctors going abroad.

A couple of weeks ago in Uni, we were asked why we chose medicine, someone answered because of the gratitude the patients show towards the doctor when they get better...
We were told don't expect gratitude u'l never get it!

Truer Words have never been spoken...

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Bawa... you have put down a lot of things I'm sure are on the minds of many Med. students/doctors, who may not have time to put them into writing.

    I totally second the last paragraph... after starting work, it took 6 weeks for me to hear the words "thank you" from a patient... and I was so thrilled, I went back and thanked him...!

    I also heard that this particular neurosurgeon went around selling caps (caps, I tell you..) in order to fund the basic equipment needed for his unit, including (presumably) the drill. That is the amount of dedication shown in order to provide patients with a better service!