The joys of being a healthcare professional

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Friday, February 7, 2014


THE images that one invokes to mind for anyone in a health-related profession are those of syringes, stethoscopes and white uniforms.

But beyond the superficialities of these stereotypes lie the fact that there is something more to being a doctor, nurse or midwife than mere material associations of the professions.

And this fact encompasses the social interactions between the healthcare professional and the patient that is ideally bound by a common cause for a common goal—the cure and care of the wounded body and soul.

Another fact that is within this sphere of truth is the proposition that the making of a healthcare professional entails an overdose of hard work, dedication and resources.

Firstly, there’s hard work and this is best quantified through the extent of preparations and trainings a health professional has had in terms of schoolings and clinical exposures to obtain the needed competencies both theoretically and practically.

This hard work is further elucidated by the fact that as a student of a health profession, one must peruse thousands of pages of medical literatures and memorize at least hundreds of medical jargons throughout the academic years and this habit certainly extends towards professional life as one obtains the desired license to practice his or her chosen health profession.

Secondly, being in a health profession means that one possesses the dedication to work beyond the constraints of a typical corporate time.

While other professionals are limited to the usual 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office hours, the health professional has to work in shifts round-the-clock including on their birthdays and holidays as the need for their services arises.

In the operating room, for example, the surgeons and the entire surgical team must endure long hours of standing depending on the purpose of the operation for the benefit of their client—the patient.

In a typical government-run hospital ward that has staggering census of patients yet understaffed, the nurses-on-duty must single-mindedly pursue to render the best quality nursing care with all the paper works like charting even if it means not having the bladder or meal break.

In a similar vein, this dedication is manifested at times of disasters when the health professional has to be separated from their families to render medical services free of professional fees to victims of typhoons, earthquakes and other man-made and natural calamities.

Lastly, a health professional must embrace to work within limited resources.

Often times, they attempt to deliver the highest possible quality of medical care even in a working environment that is almost void or has scarcity of sophisticated medical technologies; medications; and manpower.

On the part of the health professional, their preparatory or schooling and training years necessitate the expenditure of monetary resources beyond what an average earning family could possibly dole out.

But to make ends meet, their families walk extra mile to stretch even their last peso just to send a loved one to a medical school or any school of healthcare profession.

Perhaps a matter that is also worth pondering is the fact that after graduation and licensure, gainful employment is not always within reach as the health professional, now licensed to practice what he or she has prepared for so hard, had to undergo a series of trainings and residencies to fully enjoy and practice his profession like a rite of passage of some sort that almost no one is exempted.

And most of those who successfully passed the eye of the needle, they may practice their beloved healthcare profession but are underpaid or mismatched.

A little over unfair considering the magnanimous battles the health professionals have to hurdle to be the finest in the field.

Feeling good about getting tired helping a stranger regain his health or comfort a terminal patient towards a peaceful death are ways that the health professional finds fulfillment and whose motivations are beyond material rewards.

But in another light, as the health professional gain meaningful experiences in clinical practice, his or her perspectives about life in general also takes shape that would compel him or her to see the world in new eyes.

The realities of life—social inequalities and injustices, poverty, social diseases—that are made ever palpable through matters and affairs that come to mind of the health professional in the tour of their duty will help them grow in the sphere of their calling.

This article I dedicate to every health professional—physicians, dentists, nurses, medical technologists, radiologic technologists, midwives, nutritionists and pharmacists who have the heart to place their patients’ welfare first before themselves.

*****

[To comment, email: polo.medical.sociologist@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 07, 2014.

Lifestyle

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