MEDICINE AND SERVICE TO HUMANITY

Visiting Captives

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

… it may be a profitable exercise to stop every now and then and ask, “Why am I doing what I am doing? Can I still see the point of all this?”

–  Fr. Francis Alvarez, an excerpt from his Philippine Star article entitled “Do You Still Get The Point?”

There are moments in one’s life when one starts to question his or her reason for doing things.  Reaching the pinnacle of monetary success or drowning in accomplishments, an individual may tend to run out of motives for pursuing goals.  In the medical profession, when one receives all kinds of accolades from colleagues, civic groups, and high-ranking officials, there could be the temptation to bask in all the glory and simply enjoy the moment without acknowledging those who enabled you to succeed.  At the other end of the spectrum, when frustrations mount and challenges in training and clinical practice become hard to bear, it would be tempting to find the easy way out and simply quit.  In either case, one must take a deep look at the medical profession and its mandate to serve humanity.

In no other profession can one uphold the value of human life better than in the medical field.  What does it take to sustain this noble pursuit of serving others?  Some are motivated by monetary gain.  Others are energized by the status and respect that goes with the profession.  For a few others, the intellectual “difficulties” that one goes through excite them (I know of a doctor who only likes to handle ICU cases.  Simple outpatient cases bore him).  It’s funny, but the common response an incoming medical student gives when asked for his reason for going into medical school is “to serve the less fortunate”.  The idealism goes down the drain once reality sets in.

How can one truly love the art and science of medicine and be motivated by its challenge to serve?  As a Christian, this is supposed to be a given.  The followers of Christ believe in two great commandments – Love of God and Love of Neighbor.    In an encyclical letter entitled “Deus Caritas Est”, Pope Benedict XVI says that only through one’s readiness to encounter one’s neighbour and to show brotherly love can we be sensitive to God as well.  If  one serves his neighbor, his eyes are opened to what God does for himself, and one realizes how much God loves him.  The act of service accomplishes two things.  First, it shows how much we love God and makes us pleasing to Him.  Secondly, it showers us with graces and blessing from God, because He sent us into this world to spread love to His other creations.

They say the priesthood is a calling.  Being a doctor is quite similar.  And physicians have the power to heal the physical body, a God-given gift that remains with a doctor from the moment he gets his license to practice.  Doctors may not get rich.  Their names may remain obscure outside the people they serve.  They may not have much power and influence over political decisions that shape society.  But they will never, ever run out of graces from above as long as they give themselves wholeheartedly to the upliftment of the healing art.  And that could be all the motivation a Christian doctor needs to develop his craft.

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2 comments on “MEDICINE AND SERVICE TO HUMANITY

  1. Pingback: LIVING IN THE FACE OF DEATH | THE MEDICAL PHILOSOPHER

  2. Pingback: THE BUSINESS OF SERVICE | THE MEDICAL PHILOSOPHER

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