In yesterday’s blog entry, I told you how difficult it was for a less educated employee of ours to get an abortion at a local gynecologist. Ramona was with her and while the difficulties that she had were quite surprising for her, she told me about something else that made her feel uncomfortable in this whole situation: the way how the doctor talked to our employee.
To clarify the situation, it was not a village doctor with no experience. We are talking about a woman with a clinic who has completed her medical studies and has even worked in big hospitals in metropolitan cities of India. She was able to lead a whole conversation with Ramona in English as well and also didn’t lack any eloquence when they shifted talk into Hindi – as long as it was directed at Ramona. Once the turn came to talking to the woman whom Ramona was accompanying, her patient, tone and expressions changed.
Not too long ago I told of my visit at the eye specialist and how I was not explained what they were doing. In that time I told how many doctors did not actually explain anything about their diagnose and treatment but could even excuse them a little bit by looking at the fact that many of them have a majority of fully uneducated patients who don’t know anything about their body and don’t care very much either. They just want to get healthy as quickly as possible. This time however Ramona felt it was different.
She knew that our employee was not very educated and had very little knowledge about pregnancies, contraceptives, medical treatments and all those things. She knew that this woman would not be able to understand the medical terms that doctors often use and might not know the full meaning of even some commonly used words. Nevertheless however this woman was now there, a paying patient of the doctor, a human person who deserved to be talked to with respect and dignity! No matter how uneducated your patient is, she doesn’t pay less than any professor that comes to you and you have given an oath to help anybody who comes to you!
You are not only supposed to heal their bodies but also help their feelings! These women come to you with an issue that is dear to their heart! We are not talking about a fever, a flu or a broken arm! It is a matter of life, of their offspring, for some of them their purpose of life! They have their own opinions, emotions and ideas and although these may seem strange to you in your world, they have a justification in theirs. You can and have to explain what you are talking about, be polite and give them the freedom of choice that other patients get instead of ordering them around and trying to force them to do what you think is right. Yes, you do have a certain authority to give advice – but you have to consider their emotions as well!
It made Ramona truly uncomfortable to be treated on a higher level than the woman sitting next to her. She told me how she again and again tried to turn the conversation to the actual patient, explaining her calmly and in detail what was going on, talking to her on the same level, not down from a higher point.
Dear doctors, your knowledge and experience is why people come to you and puts you in a higher position – don’t misuse this position and stay aware of it that anybody who comes to you is a human being with wishes, emotions and dreams!