Collegiality In The Practice Of Medicine — Dr Dhanaventhan Raman

Every action and goal in the practice of medicine should be for the greater good and should never be to antagonise, belittle or shame a colleague.

I wrote this article to address an important aspect of practicing medicine that may have been somewhat forgotten in general.

While I acknowledge that we are currently facing a crisis trying to manage and contain the spread of Covid-19, on a lighter note, I would like to bring to your attention about how doctors treat each other.

A logical place to start would be to share my experiences when I was a houseman (probably the most difficult time of my life), which was also the time I made many very good friends.

I learnt that to be good houseman meant that I only had to do two things: –

1) carry out the specialists / medical officers’ instructions and

2) work together with your fellow houseman in a harmonious and conducive way.

Housemanship was a very humbling experience for me, because I realised that I hardly knew anything during my first posting. I had a false sense of pride thinking that I might actually know “quite a lot” the day I graduated and how difficult housemanship could be?

Having done it and now being here looking retrospectively, all I can say is “how silly and ridiculous I was to think that way”.

Maybe it was not my fault to have a slightly inflated self-esteem as a new graduate, maybe that is natural. What would be unnatural will be to have too much of it. I think my insight is intact because I admit, I managed to tone down my pride and I completed my housemanship because my fellow housemen were always there to teach me and guide me.

So many of these great doctors I am proud to say are my friends, always came to my rescue when I needed help and I did help them when they asked for my help.

I would like to draw attention to a simple fundamental reason as to why they did help me. That reason is “mutual respect”. I respected them as my fellow brothers and sisters in medicine and we were sincere, and we wanted to help each other for a common goal. It was only after I did finish my housemanship I realised why I had to do it in the first place.

Housemanship training was created by the Ministry of Health to equip young doctors like me with knowledge and skills and also to ensure I was a safe doctor. Though not directly mentioned in my logbook or required in assessment, the relationship and the “working together” with fellow houseman spirit was also an equally important lesson.

It is this lesson that I have come across a couple of times some doctors may have forgotten. That at one point, some of us had our common purpose aligned and after a while, once separated by discipline, seniority and sector, we forget that we all were supposed to be friends and not foes.

We should not be competing with each other; our actions are supposed to be for the benefit of the patient and NOT for some selfish personal gain. Every action and goal in the practice of medicine should be for the greater good and should NEVER be to antagonise, belittle or shame a colleague. Even if that colleague is not a personal friend, we should be kind towards each other.

The image of the profession as a whole also lies in our professional ethics and also with the way we treat each other and mind you, the general public notices it.

What would the general public and our patients think of us if we don’t treat each other with respect? Would that not tarnish our credibility? I believe any reasonable doctor will be able to relate to this.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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