"Wait and have patience. Observe. Don't intervene at the drop of a hat. Follow up. Learn. Study the latest research that your CME does not cover. Study what other modalities have to say. Listen carefully to what your patients convey to you. Respect their decisions. Console them with good bedside manners. Go beyond what you have been taught in medical colleges. Stop behaving mechanically."
I believe this is what Dr B M Hegde and other seniors are trying to convey to the medical profession. Sir William Osler, the last of giants that tried to steer the profession towards sanity, also wanted doctors to be empathetic, compassionate and study the Bible.
Why are members of the profession unable to comprehend this? The fault lies in medical education itself as Dr B M Hegde rightly points out. Education teaches doctors to believe that their method alone is right. It also teaches them to stick to what they are taught and never deviate. The sheer volume of learning that is imposed on them also makes them feel that there can be nothing beyond it. It provides them no time to pause and think. It also inculcates a deep seated hatred for other systems.
All of this leads to a situation where they are unable to accept the obvious because it entails going against ones actions and convictions in the past. It involves a loss of face and also the probability that the profession may take a hit and be forced to stop many practices that were considered sacrosanct. These actions may also cause other systems to gain the upper hand. It is a sense of insecurity that we sense in the profession today. Many of its members realize the obvious but are reluctant to open up as they fear ostracization from within. Many seniors have children or family members in the profession and they fear for their livelihoods if the system suffers in any way.
Another factor is that they believe their system is scientific and methodological. Yes, it seems so on the surface. But corporate greed that is in control has manipulated this framework adroitly to impose its diktats right from the day of inception. An engineering method has overtaken what essentially is a humanitarian and social subject. Corporate medicine seeking profits alone has a power and force of its own that makes it rigid and impervious to change. You cannot expect the huge industry to stop dead in its tracks, or even to pause momentarily and think.
All of this has led to a situation where disease and suffering has multiplied and today both physician dissatisfaction and burnout, and public anger and rejection makes this giant edifice totter on its weak foundation.
What can be the way out? I think Dr Hegde and his herd have already walked the path. We have to move towards a patient centric integrated approach. Every medical text needs revision in light of recent findings. The germ and virus theory of disease has been replaced by the microbiome and epigenetic approach and this fact has to be accepted. Focus on health and harmony is the need of the day. Common sense must replace the business mentality. The profession must become humane, beneficial to society and drop its mechanical approach. There is need for humility and acceptance. It must go against its core convictions if it wishes to stay relevant. Enough of the “saving lives” argument, the reality is vastly different and needs to be recognized. People are suffering and that suffering needs to be addressed.
The medical profession must listen to seniors like Dr Hegde. I don’t see any other way it can redeem itself.