A Doctor’s Touch

During my interview yesterday, the interviewer asked me what I consider as the most important quality of a physician. I answered the human touch. After seeing this TED Talk by Dr. Abraham Verghese, I became aware of how physicians are tempted to simply see the patients as a series of numbers from test results. Although technology continues to improve and can provide physicians with more statistical information about a person’s condition, it isn’t the role of a doctor to simply analyze the test results and only treat patients physically; I believe that emotional and spiritual healing is their responsibility too.

When I visited Korea this past June, the aunt that I stayed with had to be admitted to the hospital due to a defect from her recent brain surgery. This left one side of her body nearly paralyzed and she had to be assigned to an ICU bed, which only allowed visitors for a total of an hour per day. She was miserable during the entire week that she was in the ICU, and this misfortune made my desire to become a doctor even stronger.

But it also made me despise some doctors, particularly my aunt’s neurologist. Not only did he hold appointments with his patients for no longer than 5 minutes, but also he refused to look at his patients in the eyes. It was sickening. Sure, he has the smarts as a doctor in one of the most renown hospitals in Korea, but I would never want him as my doctor. He taught me what kind of doctor I don’t want to be in the future and how I shouldn’t treat patients.

Yesterday’s interview was my first and only one so far, but I just hope that wherever I end up, I’ll be happy and hold the principles I value now.

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