Doing medicine : Intentions and challenges

Prior to entering Medical school – we had to write a 100 word essay on why we want to become a doctor. We even had some sort of ‘coaching session’ just so we could convey our message in the essay appropriately since English was not our first language. After all we are applying for a place in an oversea medical school.

The coach was giving us tips and hints and when he randomly asked the group “anybody want to share why they want to be a doc?”

A young man proudly put up his hands and shouted ” I want to win the Nobel prize!!” It was innocent and well meaning.

The answer probably caught the coach by surprise. He let out a gentle smile and I remembered him vaguely saying…

… that while he respects individual motivation to pursue medicine – be it sole altruism, money, ranking up the social status etc… he feels that medicine should also be done with the spirit of serving humanity , to treat the ill and make them better so they could go back to the society and serve them back…. we are dealing with human lives you know ..

He went on to describe how Einstein and Marie Curie did not do what they did just to get the nobel prize. In fact he thought they were just doing what they were passionate about in the best way that they can – all so the community could benefit from it. Because their effort changed so many lives on a huge scale in a very positive way – that’s why they were awarded the Nobel prize. It’s a form of recognition for something so noble and selfless.  

Of course practising medicine nowadays has its own sets of challenges. In the olden times, science was witchcraft or an act against the will of God. We are still seeing that today only that now we are described locally by a minority of the religion-driven group as ‘konco2 Yahudi’.

Yes, I had someone mention that to my face in a so called ‘joking manner’ saying that medicine is ‘ilmu yahudi’ just because I cannot translate pancreas into Malay language as opposed to heart into ‘jantung’ or spleen into ‘limpa’. I did not proceed to give him a speech because I was pressed for time but if I did.. I would say that…

Muslims were once pioneers of the science and medicine. Most prominent figures I remember are like Ibn Sina & Al Razi. If we were so called the Zionist secret armies – Allah wouldn’t have bestowed upon us the knowledge of science. That particular era would not have been known as the golden age. Where people are enlightened. And know more. Sad enough, these figures were also called apostates by other muslims during that time.

Salah ke nak jadi orang berilmu? And when we try to give you simple health education – patients maki. When we try to tackle obesity – we were labelled insensitive and argue back regarding every body is beautiful regardless beso ke kecik. Ada aku kata ko tak lawa? I just want you to be healthy. Im just giving ideas so you wouldn’t get another asthma attack and brings up a panic in everyone when we have to intubate!

I even had a patient who does not believe he has a problem with gallstones because the man he went to see for his ‘berubat kampung’ said that he doesn’t have it. Only renal stones – and a procedure has been done to remove it. Pffftt..

Sometimes I wonder why am I still here despite these incidents. Because among them empty vessels and difficult patients – there are still those who are seeking for help and needs a helping hand. Who needs a voice to guide them. Who believes that Allah’s Help comes in the form of proper medical practice. And I still believe that medicine is the best ladang pahala one could ever wish for.


3R : Read, Reflect, Respond

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