Doctors' Day: What Indian doctors want?

By Jisha Krishnan

Published on July 1, 2017
The story goes back to 1933, when Gandhiji was ill, yet refused to take his medicines because they were not made in India. “Why should I take your treatment? Do you treat the four hundred million of my countrymen for free?” he asked the doctor.
“No, I could not treat them for free. But I come here not to treat Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, but the man who represents those four hundred million countrymen,” the doctor replied. The patient had to relent and take his medication.
The doctor was Bidhan Chandra Roy, a renowned philanthropist in the field of medicine, who went on to become the chief minister of Bengal in 1948 and was bestowed with the Bharat Ratna in 1961. It’s in his honour that July 1 – his birth anniversary - is celebrated as Doctor’s Day in India.
To mark the occasion this year, we have compiled a wish list of what Indian doctors really want, based on interactions with countless medical professionals over the years.

More trust

A recent study by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) shows more than 75 per cent doctors in the country have experienced some form of violence - verbal or physical - while on duty. Men (and women) in white coats are no longer considered God incarnate; there’s growing distrust among patients.

What doctors want is for us to understand that they would never knowingly harm a patient. Without mutual trust and respect, the very foundation of healthcare practice will collapse.

Less Google

The new-age doctors’ biggest challenge, arguably, is to deal with patients who are armed with ‘Googled’ information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.

Knowledge is power, but half-knowledge can be dangerous. Especially when it comes to health. 

What doctors want is for patients to realise that not everything that’s found online is true. There’s no harm in discussing what you have read, but finally only a doctor can take a call on what’s in your best medical interest. 

Better public health system

According to the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017, drugs, diagnostics and emergency care services will be offered free of cost in all government hospitals. However, most patients are likely to continue to pay out of their pockets to avail of private healthcare services.

What doctors want is greater confidence in the public healthcare system, aided by latest infrastructure and more manpower. That way, there’ll be lesser burden on the private sector, which currently caters to nearly 70 per cent of India’s healthcare needs.

Change in perceptions

Despite a dismal ratio of 0.7 doctors and 1.5 nurses per 1,000 Indians, skilled medical professionals are struggling to find employment. The growing incidence of suicide among doctors in India - due to financial hardships – calls for urgent attention.

What doctors want is acknowledgment of the fact that medicine is not really the most lucrative profession. Doctors need to slog for years, after completing their MBBS, before they can earn a living.

A little empathy

Doctors have never really had a nine-to-five job. But, thanks to smartphones and Wi-Fi, the work-life balance of most doctors is going for a toss. This leads to an increase in cases of burnouts and stress-induced ailments among medical professionals. 

What doctors want is some empathy. For patients to understand that it’s not always possible to respond to queries on WhatsApp or email. Sometimes, doctors need to switch off too.

Let’s do our bit to make this wish list a reality. Because there isn’t a better way to wish them a Happy Doctor’s Day!