Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Medical Liability or Asset?

It has been a few months since I last wrote, which may tell you something about the mid year schedule of a medical student. With snow days, postponed exams, and the completion of the ischioanal fossa in gross lab, I am at my breaking point, but maybe that is overly dramatic.

There has been several national disasters recently. First the devastating earthquake to Haiti an already devastated country and then the worst earthquake to hit Chili in recent history. I had the good fortune of being able to visit haiti when I was in high school. I remember thinking two things, "Where did all the trees go?" and "Where can I buy a machete?" Now that I have matured slightly and seen a more small parts of the world, my eyes have begun to defog, and I am more able to learn from past experiences that were previously forgotten. These two recent events have me thinking about a new question posed to my class by a physician of wilderness medicine, "Will you be a medical asset or a Liability?"

When people are sent into disaster zones initially it is search and rescue effort and basic medical help. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other medical professionals are some of the first to enter into the scene. Yesterday, at a lunch talk about wilderness medicine this question was proposed, "Will you be a medical asset or a hinderance?" I pondered this for a while. What classifies a physician or even a person as an asset. The first thing I though of was humility.

My dad constantly told me, "Approach others with humility and you will go far." Hearing this as a teenager, I never believed him. To my teenage self I knew for a fact that putting yourself behind others is no way to win at anything. I think the words of Green Day's song 'Nice Guys Finish Last' echoed a little louder in my head than my dad's words. But on the field if there is a truck that needs unloading or dishes that need to be cleaned, does it matter that you are a pediatric vascular surgeon specializing in neurovascular trauma? NO!

Being a medical asset has little to do with how well I preform on my next biochemistry test or even my class rank, but to remember the task at hand, understand what the team is working towards, and by whatever means necessary achieve the common objective.

3 comments:

Beverly said...

True words for anywhere we are in life....thanks.
Beverly White

ayush said...

hi colin,i m a 1st grade medical student at india,i think ur views r justified,but u must understand that these calamities have been eternal ,they can't be avoided,but a few of them like the effects of global warming which can be attributed 2 human contempt on nature can be tackled by individualistic&socialistic self realization, at the same time we must try 2 see that war for self greed &non ethical support 2 violence have same rather more devastating effects on the lives of the people living in that part of the world, for ex. I qoute us war on afghanistan, the us ,in times of cold war with ussr promoted terrorism in that country ,for nearly a decade it aided them to run a tyrant and dictatorial govt. In that part,& when they attacked the wtc ,only then the us govt. Fought awar against the taliban,it is ashame that in the in between time.from end ofcold war 2 9/11,thousands of people were killed accross the south and south east asia due 2 terrorist attacks by the taliban,these countries were helpless as against 'the us supported taliban '&now still about adecade has gone for us fighting off the same taliban which it supported earlier,lacs of people have been killed (BOTH AMERICANS AND AFGHANS)&millions left homeless&poor!(more than that of haitiorchilean earthquake)&the irony is that it could be avoided easily,see we can't prevent natural calamities ,we can't win over mother nature,the cycle of happiness&misery will continue forever,we should understand the essence of humanity that we r here not for violence(both against nature or man himself ),but 2 serve the poor or those in need,& to create a better world 2 live in!

Colin said...

Thanks for commenting, and I know how difficult it is to get into medical school in India so "Cheers!"

I agree with you completely, and living in India you bring a unique aspect to the discussion. Not all of is in the USA are unaware of the world crisis of health, hunger, and war.

We both must remember humility as we go through our education. because our chosen profession is primarily a service position. We are hear to create an environment where healing can occur.

thanks again for the post, and good luck to you in your endeavors.