The weight of the white coat
Donning the white coat every morning for the last 22 years brings the same gleam in my eyes and spring in my step as it did the first day I could call myself a doctor. It was then and has been since a fresh, pure white crisp yet soft, very gentle to touch. Though it was a proud moment then to be able to wear it, I am still, after all these years a proud doctor.
Proud but not arrogant because I carry the weight of my white coat every day and night. Yes, it is heavy because I know my decisions will affect people’s lives, their health and well-being, their finances and their families and friends. Yet the weight is carried by shoulders which have been trained hard and strengthened over sleepless nights and long working hours spent with disease and death. Every smile or a sigh of relief on the patient’s face is a reward that money cannot give. And so it is disheartening to hear people comment that doctors are money-minded. Quality comes at a price.
I don’t think as doctors we want to compromise on quality possible within affordable finances. How can we forget the Indonesian plane that crashed into the sea just after take-off killing all 189 passengers? The pilot was capable and tried his best but how could he manage a sub-quality machine handed to him? How can we hold someone who is using below par machine responsible for the consequences, forgetting the company who manufactured it?
While driving to the hospital, the newspaper which I read with my morning cup of tea made me think India is at war with its doctors-hospitals getting vandalised, doctors manhandled and staff beat up. My thought process was interrupted with the honking beside my car by a man riding a bike.
Driving without a helmet, cutting across lanes, he was speeding to cross the signal in the last second. And I thought unless this man is super lucky. he is going to be brought to some hospital with broken bones and maybe a head injury. God forbid if he dies, will his relatives blame the doctor? who will question his driving skill and absence of a helmet? I was just thinking of the police when I was told that the police in Delhi was beaten up by the judiciary. Where is our society heading? And the solution…..?
How can I expect a society burdened with anger, discontent, misplaced beliefs, jealously, misinformed pride to find a solution? Am I not the academic crème of my society? Maybe it is time for me to shoulder another responsibility. Unlike the corporate world where a part of the profit needs to be allocated for social responsibility but goes for marketing, I prefer to do my work silently but sincerely. After all, I shoulder the weight of the white coat to save lives. And I am always there to help society. I am a proud doctor.
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