We’ve all heard of the Hippocratic Oath and know that Hippocrates is considered to be the father of western medicine. In the 2400 years that have passed since the Greek physician penned the words doctors swear to live by, a lot has changed. But one thing has remained constant. Doctors have always been held in high regard. Well, almost always.
The Doctor Knows Best, Right?
In the past, we put wholesale faith in doctors, assuming they always knew best. But did they? Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression. His doctor prescribed a blue pill called “blue mass.” It was considered a wonder drug and was used to treat toothaches, constipation, tuberculosis, you name it. While on blue mass, Lincoln experienced fits of rage and deep depression. Why? The pill contained something we would never consume today, mercury! Wisely, Lincoln stopped taking the drug.
All Hail the Internet
Today’s consumers are a savvy lot. Whether you’re shopping for a car, a new TV, or a family doctor, we not only have many choices, we have a wealth of research material at our fingertips, via the internet. We are also far better educated than the average person was in the past and of course, we know so much more about our bodys than we used to. Think about this. If you went back to say, the mid 1800′s with the contents of your medicine cabinet, you could probably cure minor ailments more successfully than a doctor from that time.
How the Mighty Have Fallen
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t complained that they spent an hour and a half in their doctor’s waiting room, or expressed cynically that it must be nice to play golf every Wednesday. Sometimes we give them the benefit of the doubt by blaming the current state of health care. But is it really just big bucks and tropical vacations for doctors these days? Have they fallen so far from grace as to be considered a necessary evil?
The Other Side of the Coin
As someone who is admittedly a profession cynic, I do try to balance my views by looking at the whole picture. Becoming a doctor takes an enormous investment in both time and discipline, leaving some in as much as a quarter million dollars in debt when they graduate. Once you land a job or begin your practice, you’ve begun a career that is more prone to runaway law suits than just about any other. That’s a scary landscape to traverse in my book.
Ask a Silly Question
Do you want to know why your doctor became a doctor? I did, so I asked. I’ve asked my family doctor, my dentist, and on the occasion that I needed to see a specialist, I’ve asked them too. The answers always express a desire to help people, a desire for knowledge, and if you can get them to open up, an admission that there is a lot of red tape to work through, as well a certain amount of concern about legal issues. Ultimately, they also say they love what they would do.
A friend once told me the notion that doctors practice medicine scared him. He wondered why, after all that education, are they still practicing? In reality, a good doctor is like any good professional. They work hard, acknowledge that they don’t know everything and partner with their clients. We’re all practicing at whatever it is we do. The best way to know what its like to be a doctor is to ask. You’ll be surprised how it changes your relationship with him/her.