Hello, my name is Yasmin and the topic of my
presentation is the required characteristics surrounding medicine.
I, much like many of my
friends and family, wanted to enter the medical field at one point in my life,
with the dream to become a surgeon one day. However, I was always intimidated
by the amount of time and effort that I would need to put into my endeavour. This
career is so dependent on each step, that one mistake, and you’re out of the
race. Why must this profession demand north of fifteen years of studying for
such a short career? Most surgeons are forty by the time they can practice
surgery, and by then, the chances of suffering from Parkinson’s nearly double! It’s
not like there’s too many doctors out there, in fact, often a cancer patient
must wait a month to seek appropriate treatment! This got me thinking, what is
so special about medicine? Why are medical schools so selective of who they choose?
This ultimately brought me
to my main question, what does it mean to be a doctor?
Thesis: I argue that ultimately, the definition of a physician lies in three
characteristics: Their ability care, think inquisitively, and be civic minded.
The novel “Final Exam” by Pauline Chen discusses the relationship
between modern medical practice and the emotional events surrounding death, all
of which are carefully articulated by the life experiences of the author. The
novel, which is very similar to a biography, traces Pauline’s experiences from
the first day at Harvard University to her experiences as a surgeon
specializing in hepatology (study of the liver). This novel empowered me to
find an answer to my questions, and ultimately, it reveals many secrets about
the medical profession.
Moving onto the main topic, the definition of a physician. Some have
suggested that possessing phenomenal marks and a high GPA is the key to
medicine. However, this is a shameful way of classifying potential students.
The demand for GPA by medical schools deviates the focus of students from
passion to blind obsessions with marks. Students freak out about their grades
because they believe that if they don’t get them, they will not be good
doctors, and consequently, they place them as their top priority. “The person
who scored well on the SAT or the MCAT will not necessarily be the best doctor
or the best lawyer or the best businessman. These tests do not measure
character, leadership, creativity, and perseverance.” Although intelligence is
an expected characteristic of the medical profession, it fails to define the
complexity of this occupation. Although it plays a factor in their performance,
ultimately, the definition of a doctor is based on a specific set of personal
attributes if they are to meet the public’s expectations.
As I said before my thesis
is that: I argue that ultimately, the definition of
a physician lies in three characteristics: Their ability care, think
inquisitively, and be civic minded.
A Physician must be caring – “The secret of the care for the patient is caring for the patient” –
Francis Peabody. Medical professionals today are so confused in differentiating
between treatment and care , that they fall behind in providing treatment to a
cure. Unfortunately, this approach to practicing medicine leads to incompetent
care because physicians often undermine the importance of caring for the
patient and turn to treating them as subjects. Research has shown that 1/5
medical professionals would refrain from tending a terminally ill patient due
to the lack of hope and additional methods of treatment. Ultimately, doctors
who fail to develop emotional bonds with their patients fail to give them the
treatment they deserve. A study conducted by the Hastings Centre in 1999 was a
project set to define the goals of medicine. One of the four major goals that
evolved from this project was called The
care and cure of those with an illness, and the care of those who cannot be
cured. The research stated that it is essential for physicians to
understand clearly that to serve the goals of medicine, they shoulder the
responsibility to continue caring for their patients despite the circumstances.
If they fail to do so, their patients will sense that they have been abandoned
by their own doctor ad a critical time, which ultimately reveals that caring
indeed, is an aspect of medical professionalism that is essential to every
A physician must be
inquisitive – the field of medicine has a long
tradition of celebrating the discoveries of diagnoses and cures, and so much
emphasis is placed on knowledge, that in order to initially enter the field,
the student must already be a genius in their stream. However, the view of most
successful doctors including, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, is that what
predominates in medicine is not what is already known, but what is not known. This
attribute is essential to physicians as it contributes to the quality of their
care and their ability to acquire new knowledge and skills in the dynamic field
of medicine. Medicine is always changing, and in order to be a physician, the
individual must have the ability to contribute to that change. Dr Ben Carson is
a neurosurgeon who graduated from Yale University, and was the first surgeon to
split Siamese twins conjoined from the head. He single-handedly revolutionized
neurosurgery, and with him, came huge benefits for all patients who were
affected by a brain injury. Those who wish to become physicians must be able to
contribute just as much to medicine as they are getting out of it. Inquisition
is an attribute of physicians that drives their ability to thrive in tough
situations, which conclusively gives priority to this characteristic.
A physician must be civic minded – Physicians must be
motivated and express a passionate concern and appreciation for the better of
humanity as a whole, and not be driven through monetary gains. Despite civic
responsibility being an ambiguous characteristic, over the years it has come to
be viewed as an element of medicine that is embedded within the profession. Dr.
Jonas Salk is a medical researcher and a graduate from the New York School of
Medicine. After being appointed head of Virus Research Lab at the University of
Pittsburgh, Dr. Salk devoted himself to finding a way to curb the deadly virus,
polio. In less than five years, he invented the vaccine, and in his biggest
contribution to humanity, he didn’t patent it. Dr. Salk was solely motivated by
the desire for the betterment of humanity as a whole, and despite the millions
he could have made from selling the vaccine, he devoted his life to save
thousands more. This demonstrates that a physician should go above and beyond
to aid society and participate in community organizations to improve the health
of the general public. A civic mind is fundamental in the profession whose
foundation is to improve health, hence, making it an essential attribute to the
definition of a physician.
These three traits are of transcendent importance which must be embedded
within the personalities of each doctor, and ultimately, if a doctor lacks
expertise in these aspects of emotion and thought, despite their advanced level
of knowledge, they will fail to service society. Every successful medical
professional has demonstrated these traits in their career, and it is the
reason why these individuals are the icons of medicine. A doctor’s ability to
care, think inquisitively, and have a civic mind differentiates them from the
rest of the world, and it’s no wonder why medical schools are so stringent on
their requirements. Individuals who possess these characteristics are extremely
difficult to come by, and consequently, these traits are essential to humanity
as a whole. This is why it can be concluded that ultimately, one can’t just simply become a doctor, they
must be raised as one. So as a presenter, I ask you, what do you think is
the most important characteristic of your doctor?
Thank you for listening and
I hope you enjoyed the presentation.