Hypocratic Oath – A Letter to All the Doctors

Why do people become doctors?

I’m sure for some it is for that altruistic “I wanna save people” reason.

For others, it may have been because they saw a family member or friend die, and they don’t want that to happen to others.

But….

in my lifelong experience with doctors, I have been convinced that a lot of doctors become doctors because they think it’s going to bring them

  • Prominence
  • Fame
  • Riches
  • Bragging rights
  • Approval
  • Pats on the Back
  • Hummers and Lamborghinis
  • Nice Suits and Louboutins

And guess what, it usually does. So yay for them.

But, after a couple years, or five years, or 10 years, or however long – I’m not really sure, because I’m not a doctor… They lose the feeling of what a doctor is really supposed to be. And guess who loses out?

ME.

Well, not just me, obviously. You, too. Specifically, us chronic illness patients that have to go to doctors – one after the other after the other – to try to fix what’s wrong with us. Some of us don’t even know what’s wrong with us; so we go to doctor after doctor after doctor to try to figure it out. Others know what’s wrong with us, but we don’t know how to fix it, so we go to doctor after doctor after doctor to try to do that.

So, in the end, we face doctors constantly – once a week, twice a week, three times a week, a couple times a month (whatever) all the time all we see is doctors!

So, I’ve been able to form quite a scientific theory, if you will, of this group as a whole. And I’ve asked myself —- why do they become doctors?

I had an experience yesterday that was very upsetting. It was because of this doctor that I have been trying to get in to for months (you know the kind). One of my *other* doctors was humble enough to tell me that she did not know what to do for me anymore, and recommended another physician that she thought would be able to help me to a greater degree to get out of the situation that I’m currently in (namely looking down the barrel of death). Out of this concern, she referred me to another guy (I limit myself on using the term doctor at this point, because *well let’s just face it* I don’t want to call him that).

It’s not that this person didn’t have any appointments, or was too busy, it’s that he picks and chooses who he wants to see like it’s American Idol. He looks over my records to see whether or not I’m good enough or bad enough or interesting enough or not interesting enough (I’m not really sure) for his caseload. He dangled me like a carrot on a stick for months. And then what happened? A big fat no! And then nothing. No, I’m sorry that you’re in a tough situation. No, I’m going to make a suggestion or another referral or something else to help you out. Nothing. Wow. That is some serious compassionate care right there, I’ll tell you.

I understand that doctors can’t say yes everyone. And I’m not saying that I’m so arrogant that I expect doctors to make concessions for me in every case. I would understand that if this guy had a bazillion patients he could say “I can’t take you on as a patient because I have too many patients already and it’s too much.” But, I know for a fact for my other doctor that this is not the case. He comes into the office once a week (yes people once a week!) And on top of that, chooses patients via The Voice, American Idol, America’s Got Talent sort of way – like it’s a competition.

And I bet he leaves the hospital driving his fancy red Lamborghini, and cruises up to the circle drive of his giant castle mansion lined with fancy orchids, with his house smelling like cupcakes every time he gets there, too. So yay for him.

But boo for the rest of us!

Why is it that doctors can be doctors without having the fellow feeling for people that they should have?

ALL doctors should want to be doctors because they want to help people. Shouldn’t there be some kinda class in medical school where they teach doctors the reason for being doctors in the first place? Wouldn’t that eliminate a lot of the problems we have right now?

Who am I kidding? If no one was sick in the first place we would need doctors at all!

So, if you’re a doctor reading this post ponder this:

When you’re in medical school, I assume you read something called the Hippocratic oath – doesn’t it say something along the lines of “I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm?”

Well…

You’re harming me if you put me through some kinda weird sick person gauntlet to determine whether or not I get to be your patient.

You’re harming me if you come to my hospital room and talk to me about my illness without ever making eye contact with me at all.

You’re harming me when you treat me like a number on a chart and not like a human being.

You’re harming me when you don’t allow me to have a choice in my own healthcare, and assume I’m just going to do whatever you say without questioning you at all.

You harm me when you say it won’t hurt, or be so bad, or it’s fine, when you’ve never experienced it yourself and therefore cannot say.

You harming me when you’re not straight with me about what happening to my health. Just be honest.

First, do no harm. That’s how the saying goes. Think about that when you say it.

It’s not just words.

Why don’t you try putting yourself in my shoes for a minute before you treat me?

Try applying empathy – it will do your patients so much good.

13 Comments
  1. Claire

    Hi, as an ex nurse (due to chronic illness) in the UK there are so many things I want to say! I have gone from medical professional to professional patient and it has been extremely difficult – our system here is very different from yours, so doctors don’t get to pick and choose patients, particularly not for their own financial gain. But over the years as both a nurse and a patient I have come across personalities like you describe – particularly amongst surgeons. I would like to think that the majority of our young medics would be horrified to know patients might think they have chosen their career for the reasons you list…..but undoubtedly some go into it for the wrong reasons, and others definitely lose perspective along the way. Some have no idea how to communicate with the person who is their patient! Thanks so much for sharing on Blogging in Bed -I would happily do a guest post swap with you! Really pleased to find you – I’ve shared a link to your great post on my regular PainPals feature Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You! Claire x

  2. Amy

    I’m sure doctors get wrapped up in their job & forget that we are people sometimes. It’s such a blessing to have a compassionate doctor!

  3. Chelsey

    This was really great I really loved it! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tina Martin

    I lost a lot of my respect for doctors in my previous job as a cleaner and overheard a nurse looking for the doctor’s wedding ring in the operating room because he couldn’t find it, for one.
    Interesting points of view!

    • Miriam

      He lost his wedding ring “in” someone! Oh no! That horrible!!!!

  5. Rosemary

    Again you hit the nail on the head. Medical care has become a money making business and is operated on the bottom line instead of a concern to get people well. Sad but true.

    • Miriam

      Exactly – sad but true!

  6. Michaele

    Truth! The good Drs are long lost and far and few between these days. Whithout the ill, they would have no paycheck. Not many people can say they have the ‘luxury’ of picking and choosing each ‘job’ they do. A painter may take even the hardest job so as to feed his family. Same with the mechanic, the contractor, the Wal-Mart employee…you get the idea. Keep fighting Miriam! Keep praying! Your readers are pulling for you!

    • Miriam

      Thank you Michaele – you make an excellent point — my family are plumbers and they will do just about any job!!! ? The experience I had made me feel like I was back on the playground at school… doctors should not make you feel that way. thanks for your encouragement! I really appreciate it so much!!!!

  7. Julie Doherty

    Hi Miriam,
    This is a huge subject that you have tackled and who better than yourself, who has been put through the ringer of the medical system. This is so much more serious than any individual Doctor or Practitioner can ever imagine.
    In general, the medical system is programmed to keep people sick, to keep them coming back for treatments that not only don’t help, but do more harm than good.
    On becoming a Naturopath some 27 years ago now, I heard all of the stories and more about the hidden scenes behind the medical model that we are now subjected to. There are also maybe not so unethical, however you also had many people in my field, not practicing by their authentic code of that Naturopathic medicine is a way of life, teaching and empowering people in essence to become and stay well. This has far gone beyond this to a world of supplements, vitamins and pill taking. And as these may not do the harm per say of medications, poor operating procedures and such, there is still that element that people are being taken advantage of during vulnerable times of ill health.
    I remember at the time thinking that I couldn’t fight the medical system and I didn’t have control of every Naturopath or Natural physician treating properly, so I went about learning as much as I could about both modalities so to speak, then to educate each person who came in my door, as to empower and educate them with detailed information in order for them to make informative decisions in regard to their health and treatment protocols. So that they can stand up for themselves as to their wants and needs, as no-one or no test available can determine someone’s health as that person themselves.
    They say – “There is no money in getting people well”! How foolish, because the bottom line isn’t about the money it is about having people become well. By becoming well they will trust you and you then have a life time legacy that no amount of money can buy.
    Great article Miriam, I will definitely share it.

    • Miriam

      Thank you, Julie! You have so much knowledge in the medical field, so your opinion on this matter is important. I appreciate that you keep your practice patient centric in order to make people feel heard. I feel the same as you that the best determiner of one’s health is oneself. thank you for your insight!

  8. Miriam

    Thanks for including me in your Must-Read list! I am in very good company!! ?

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