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The Meek will Inherit the Earth

The Meek will Inherit the Earth

What happened to Americans on the way to individual prosperity? Since I was a child, I have heard constant preaching from teachers, coaches, politicians, mentors, family members that the greater good of our society should be in our fore-minds as we take steps to improve our lives together. The practice of medicine seemed to me to be the ultimate profession that embodied the idea of the betterment of all people placing the welfare of all in front of one's ego for personal gain. I wish those where the common values of our people as I write this blog today. Unfortunately most of my peers as well as the medical industrial machine, do not share this opinion.

I confess that going into medical school was not for the reason of caring for the infirm. I thought my acceptance into medical school would bring praise and adoration from my father as well as my girl friend's father. I sincerely thought that any father who cared deeply about his daughter, would give his daughter's hand in marriage without question to a young physician.

When I announced that I got accepted to medical school, there was no marching band at my home, no party celebrating my achievement and my father had harsh criticism about the medical school I chose to attend, since he believed I should attend one of the other three. What about my girlfriend's father? He was Chaldean and arranged a marriage for his daughter to her grandfather's second cousin's son. After her marriage, she was shipped off to San Diego, California to be the wife of a man she did not know or love. So much for my plan.

My college guidance counselor was dumbfounded when I told her about my matriculation into medical school, she had the audacity to ask me who I paid off to be accepted. When I told her I did not pay anyone off, she said that there were a number of more qualified pre-med students in our senior class that deserved a spot in medical school other than me. She thought I should go to graduate school and prove myself worthy of being a physician. That was an inspiring conversation. I left her office wondering if I had made a mistake.

Medical school was not a difficult challenge intellectually, it was an educational adventure that required a lot of focus and attention to thousands of details and facts. There were no classes that challenged the mind such as physical chemistry, fluid dynamics, microeconomics, quantum mechanics or the study of Sanskrit or other ancient languages. There were no nutrition classes, no classes on psychoneuroimmunology, pharmacokinetics or comparative anatomy. We did not study the complex interactions of the big bang theory or even entertain the debate about the origin of mankind. We just were fed facts and figures and asked to regurgitate them back, over and over again. Medical school was an indoctrination, not an education.

After medical school, I did three years of emergency medicine, and two years of post graduate training in medical toxicology and clinical pharmacology. The experiences I had throughout those five years left me with the idea that I never wanted to evaluate or treat another patient again. I realized I was an introvert, my strength was one on one verbal communication even though I was not energized by them, and absolutely abhorred speaking in front of audiences and crowds. I honed my talents to enter the pharmaceutical business. My ultimate goal was to run a drug company. Big pharma was my big dream.

But something happened along the way. While executing new drug clinical trials, I became aware of the true insincerity of my co-investigators and their true lack of interest in the drugs of which they were studying. Each patient entered into the drug trial represented a payback not a chance to investigate a new drug. The study nurses who did the daily grind were brainwashed into believing that the drug study we were doing at the time mattered to all mankind, therefore their attention to every detail was important. Meanwhile the investigators pushed to enter as many patients as possible to make enough money to purchase more stock or buy a new car.

When complications manifested within the study patients taking the new untested drug, the monitors over the study would assign most, if not all of their side effects, to their intrinsic disease of which we were treating. They took great pains to discount any bad effects that the drug might have on the study population. And the reality was that those who had serious side effects were exited from the study, and some were removed from the data pool altogether. The pharmaceutical companies did multiple drug trials at the same time, and many times only one of five or one of eight would meet the criteria set by the FDA to pass a drug for its proposed purpose. The other drug trial results were buried in a mound of unusable clinical data. Its drug trial investigators took solemn oaths not to reveal any of their findings in any public arena what-so-ever. At that moment, when I realized the gravity of the situation and its impacts on the infirm, I decided my goals of being a drug king pin were built on a house of cards. This is not to say that all medications are inherently bad, but to the use of them based on clinical trials is, at the very least, questionable. Not to mention all of the issues related to hidden drug trial data and motivations to use drug treatment in the first place.

At the end of the day, as I have traveled a winding crooked road in my professional career, I have come full circle. I am still an introvert who has developed an ability to experience and enjoy the relationships of healing the infirm. Most patients who come seeking advice about their health have complex medical problems that no one wants to take the time and unravel. They have multiple medical issues that are entwined between the boundaries of each physiological system. Much the same as human existence and the complex inter-related relationships between people. In essence, illness could be considered a metaphor of life in all of its forms.

I have continued to remain steadfast in my belief that the infirm continue to have a place where they can seek knowledge and help, without the core consciousness of those providing it being rooted in the industrialization of medical care and the almighty profit margin.

I guess those people who advised me in my past were correct. I am sure there were others who were more deserving of a place at the table of the American healthcare system than me. They would in turn provide the same medical care that others do and grow the idea that healthcare is unemotional, sterile and imperfect. And perhaps that's what we need.

More physicians who believe that the practice of medicine is nothing more than a small business that fits into a large conglomerate of insurance, hospitals, pharmacies and drug companies. Physicians who can plug in and plug out whenever it's convenient.

But I also believe that a few of us will slip by the interview process in medical school and find a way to practice medicine with compassion and a patient focused attitude. I firmly always believed that the meek will inherit the Earth. And you should too!


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 11:01 AM
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