During the course, we discussed topics like organ donation, surrogate mothers and even topics not directly medical-related such as legalization of prostitution. Our teacher advocate such discussions as well because he felt that as doctors, we should care for our society more and we should learn what the others are facing and the problems they have, so that we can help them, being people who can in the future influence the formation of policies.
I learn the invaluable lesson on communication skills during the group discussions. Being able to formulate different ideas is vital during discussion, but what is more important is the persuasion in your points. I think it is vital that the other people in the group can understand what I am talking about and this requires effective communication skills. Learning this enable us to communicate more effectively with our patients and put across complicated ideas simply so that our patients can understand. During lessons, we have learnt that the main reason why we got into trouble with patients and why we are sued is due to miscommunication with our patients. This is what group discussion tries to teach us and I believe that I have learnt invaluable lessons from the course.
Furthermore, group discussion also teaches us the invaluable lesson of tolerance as we need to agree with different point of views and criticism on our viewpoints and therefore, we must be good listeners and this applies too, when we face our patients in the future, when they criticise us or when we listen to them describe their symptoms.
I am very confident that group discussions can make us a better doctor in the future.
Interestingly tomorrow is the presidential elections, and here I am browsing through the pamphlets that they provided each household regarding the candidates and the goals that they want to achieve. Yet after seeing so many political leaders breaking their promises, I know I am being cynical about whatever they say, but I just can’t help but leaf through the details to see if there is any medical-related. Disappointingly for the two huge favorites, none of them mentioned anything about healthcare or doctor-related welfare.
I know President Ma for once did try to say that he will change the working conditions for nurses and healthcare professionals, but what about doctors? (A point to note: even the nurses seem to think that the regulation doesn’t work and they are still overstretched). Whenever can the working hours of doctors be regulated just like in United Kingdom, where a doctor works in shifts and each of them enjoy a good rest. Many a times we say that the healthcare in Taiwan is deteriorating yet we forget that the causes might be that the doctors are too tired and that increases the chances of wrong diagnosis etc. Dr Tsai, the other candidate, too did not really make any emphasis on such issues. So who is there to voice our concerns?
Perhaps that we as doctors should have more political awareness and we can start as students now. I am not advocating that we should go to the extremes of going on the streets and making violent protests for our rights, for we are already a privileged bunch whom the rest of the society still look up to, maybe till now. The training in school is not only to equip us with clinical skills, but we as students of NTU Medical School, we are trained to be future leaders and for that, we should learn to know about politics and be more socially aware of the happenings in Taiwan as well as in the world. I always believe that having a global outlook is imperative because it allows us to compare ourselves with others and ask ourselves if there are models from outside that can be adapted for our systems. Many of my friends I believe will become future department heads and even hospital executives and leadership qualities can be learnt and even if the political leaders in Taiwan cannot provide a good enough example, maybe we can learn from overseas. Furthermore, we can fight for our own benefits and create a system that suits us best.
We also need to see that many of our seniors emphasized the importance of caring for the society, people like 蔣渭水and 賴和, whom taught us to fight for the less fortunate and be their voices because we, as the so-called elites, should not be restricted to our own circles. What resources we have today is due to the efforts of the rest of the society, and therefore we should learn to give back to society and help to improve the lives of others, not only ours. I am not one to encourage people to go into politics, but sometimes our little collective efforts in voicing out our dissatisfaction at policies may bring politicians to think twice about carrying on. And if in the event that one day, we become politicians ourselves, we must not forget the lessons taught in school, to treat every one as equals, just like we treat every patients as equals and to serve with a compassionate heart.
In the first semester of our second term, we had studied an interesting subject called Medical and Society. It is a very thought-provoking subject because it is a combination of many fields such as economy, sociology, law and anthropology. After going through the entire course, I learnt valuable lessons that I want to share with you friends out there.
Firstly, the course is meaningful because it provides a thought-provoking insight on philosophical questions such as is human life qualitative or quantitative. Is the life of one person worth more than the life of five? A good example is the question on train tracks which left a lasting impression on me. The question as goes: If the train brakes are malfunctioning and towards the front there are five workers on the track and they did not notice you and imagine that on another track, there is only one person working and what you can do is you can switch the path of the train to kill that one guy or to remain on the track and kill the five workers, how would we choose?
This is an example of a dilemma. Many of us would say that killing one person is better off than sacrificing five, but if we always say that life has infinite worth, what is the difference between infinity and five infinities? Furthermore, Kant says that we should never use humans as a way of method but should always view humans as our objective and in such a scenario, switching to the track with only one person meant that we are viewing humans as a tool to be sacrificed and not as an objective to be saved. Such philosophical questions sometimes do not bring any right and wrong answers. Sometimes, even the idea of fate comes into play. Some say that the train should not switch tracks because it is the fate of the five to die since everything occurs in such a way as if it seemed that the five workers are predestined to lose their lives in such an accident. Through evaluating such dilemma, we learnt more about decisions that we face, especially when it comes to dealing with patients in the future. Should we continue to allow terminally ill patients with no hope of cure to use up one of the hospital beds or should we free up the hospital bed to someone else who is in dire needs and has hopes of being treated? This is the same moral dilemma that medical professionals face everyday and there is really no right and wrong answer to such questions. What we can do is to make use of what we learnt during lessons, whether it by Kantian school of thought or Jeremy Bentham’s preach on maximizing happiness, or even practical thinking to make the best decision.
I enjoy this lesson for it brought to me attention on the various questions that we would face in the future, but I have a very important suggestion that I think that now is too early for us to really feel for such scenarios and we can never really comprehend what is the working system in hospitals etc. I would rather hope that such a subject can be shifted to the later part of our medical education when we have undergone clinical practices and then, we can probably understand more and enjoy the lessons more. This is my humble input regarding this course.
The final exams had just ended and it is time to finally enter my posts in the e-portfolio system. Perhaps it is due to a lack of time management, but I wasn’t able to find time previously for entering my entries here due to various commitments, however, now is the end of the term and the time for reflections for what has been going on in my life in the first semester of the second year.
Honestly speaking, what I have heard is that the second year is the best out of the seven years of medical school education in terms of time offs and opportunities to develop our interests. Therefore I decided to take part in SCORP (Standing Committee on Rights and Peace), a department that is part of the 醫學系系學會國際事務部in charge of promoting rights and peace. Many people do not know that we existed and yet we have undertaken many activities, like the annual camp on the Emergency Medicine as well as the Human Rights Workshop.
I participated in the Human Rights Workshop held in Taichung at the China Medical University and it was a really meaningful experience for me. The main aim for such a workshop was to promote the social determinants of health, a topic that was also brought to our attention during our class for Medical and Society. We had three fantastic speakers who gave us insight on the importance of recognizing the social determinant of health. For example, I learnt through the speeches that the main reason why patients fall ill is due to the social conditions that he or she is staying in. As doctors, our main goal is to help ensure that we bring our patients back to good health, but what we always forget to ask is, after we treat our patients, are we sending them back to the conditions that make them fall sick again? This only forms a vicious cycle that is never-ending and yes, funny as this may sound, this keeps us in our jobs. We should therefore focus on finding out the social determinants of health and provide solutions to them because only by doing this can we truly help our patients. As doctors, we are even more well-equipped with such abilities since we provide the diagnosis and would first-hand be able to know what cause such illness like cholera and what are the possible sources of infection.
Even in Taiwan, with such well-supplied clean sanitary water in many places, there are still much other social determinants of health such as poor working conditions, pollutions in many forms etc. As proponents of human rights and peace, it is therefore our job to bring such awareness to fellow medical students so that in future, when doing diagnosis, if we know what really causes such diseases, we can ask ourselves what we can do to eradicate such conditions that the patients would not suffer a relapse. This certainly adds to the social responsibilities that we doctors should undertake and make us better proponents of healthcare in the future, at the risk of losing our jobs of course. This is the most important lesson that I had taken away from the workshop and would like to share with the rest of you friends out there.