Training of medical students physically, mentally, and emotionally is an arduous process. The transformation of a lay person entering medical school to that of a physician is a remarkable process. Almost every medical student embarks on this journey with compassion to relieve the suffering of his fellow human beings.
There is danger of being emotionally paralyzed by witnessing the misery of the sick, the horror of death, social injustice of lack of medical coverage, and the ingratitude of litigious patients. Medical school curriculum is geared to teach medical skills. Students on their own have to deal with the emotional aspects of medicine. To guard against an emotional paralysis, medical students, as a protective measure, may suppress their compassionate feelings towards their patients and may try to remain aloof when dealing with patients.
In modern day medical practice the technology provides a convenient cover from facing emotional issues. Doctors spend more time reviewing X rays, laboratory results than spending time talking to patients. The time spent in direct patient care is becoming less and less. Patients are dealt as cases and not as fellow human beings in need of care and compassion. Such an approach is neither necessary nor desirable.
The author, an experienced surgeon of many years, in the book "On The Path of Becoming a Physician" deals with these issues.
Venkatachala I. Sreenivas
ON THE PATH TO BECOMING A PHYS