“I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity.” The first line of Geneva Declaration is such. But how many doctors act in accordance with these words from the bottom of their heart? The number is hardly any, but the people memorising them are countless. Being a doctor is one of the noblest professions. They heal the sick, they need to take lifesaving decisions from time to time. Doctors make a real difference to people’s lives by helping to alleviate pain and suffering. On our journey as medical student, we meet mass number of people but only a few make their place in our heart by their action. They guide us throughout our journey, show us the splendour of this beautiful expedition of a doctor’s life. They guide us to the right decision. They are the superheroes with white coat, our true idol.
Today we shall be talking about such a man whose entire life is devoted to his patients. For whom this Geneva declaration or Hippocratic Oath is not just a stockpile of words but actually means something. On my visit to Chennai due to my father’s treatment, I was blessed to meet this great human being Dr Ravi Ramalingam, a respectful surgeon by profession with a down to earth approach.
Dr Ravi Ramalingam being the topmost ENT surgeon in South Asia I did not see a bit of arrogance in him for his designation. He is the past president of the Association of Otolaryngologists of India. A well-known and leading cochlear implant surgeon who has currently performed one of the largest series of cochlear implantations in India. An eminent surgeon and is primarily a middle ear cochlear implant and endoscopic sinus surgeon. He has performed the largest number of stapes surgery in India in addition to many hundred mastoidectomy and tympanoplasty every year. The way he empathise his patients, listen to their difficulties thoroughly is remarkable. It is said that good communication is one of the most vital doctor skills. It helps them to understand their patients’ concern and explain a diagnosis.
Now, do you think this entire thing is possible solely by gathering immense medical knowledge and piles of degrees? For me the answer would be a no! Because, reaching this level of greatness require more than that, something extra, very small yet quite meaningful, that could change the perspective of so many people regarding doctors, hospitals and many things related to this field. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little ‘extra’. This tiny little thing we call ‘Humanity’.
Dr Ravi Ramalingam himself created the ambience where his patient can talk to him regarding their health issues with no hesitation in mind. People say half of the treatment is done just by assuring the patient about his health condition. A good doctor knows how to make a patient feel as though they are being cared for, that their concerns are valid and they are being heard. We have seen the calibre in him. Even regarding any procedure that he heeds to follow he consults with his patient and their attendant. Every step of the surgical procedure is explained elaborately to the patient by doctor himself.
Although I was not fortunate enough to watch him conducting the surgery, but I was constantly being updated about the surgery, every details of what is going on behind the doors of operation theatre. One thing I must include during my visit to KKR ENT Hospital is that their dealing with patient is highly professional yet so cordial. They do not prescribe infinite numbers of test, only those required for diagnosis of patient health status. Limited number of medicine is always expected from patients’ side. Surely no one wants to take tonnes of medicine for a longer period of time, not that it is doing benefit to one’s health either. KKR ensured the patient does not need to take too many medicines for a long time, only a few and that too within the range of an average income person. We could even share our issues distinctly. Patients visiting there share a healthy doctor-patient relationship status with no barrier in any case, event or manner.
What makes a quality doctor is not the CGPA, but the insight that helps better understanding what distinguishes a great physician. Being a doctor means a lot of hard work. But this hard work is futile if one has no sense of humanity in them. If they emphasise more on the disease than the patient himself, if there is least chance of communication between the doctor and patient. While a very noble field, being a doctor is still first and foremost job and as such being professional and not at all commercial is vital.
W H Auden had said, “A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist; he is either, like a surgeon, a craftsman or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist. This means that in order to be a good doctor a man must also have a good character, that is to say, whatever weaknesses and foibles he may have, and he must love his fellow human beings in the concrete and desire their good before his own.”
Mitra Guha Neogi, a final year student of MBBS under Medical College for Women and Hospital, Uttara