When a clever doctor is a bad doctor

I had an interesting (read: infuriating) meeting with a professor this past week.

I will not indulge in the details, but it came down to this:

Professor: I get paid to teach [insert subject]. I do not care for the holistic development of students.

Me: With all due respect, after we graduate we will work in the community for at least three years, and we will be expected to act a leaders of the community-

Professor: I’m going to interrupt you there because I’m older than you and I know more about this than you do. When you go into the community, the only thing you need to know is a whole lot of medicine. Not leadership abilities.

I did not respond. I was shocked right out of my boots. I don’t think any response would have sufficed in any case.

What shocks me is that my university is so dedicated to the idea of a well-rounded student and eventually a well-rounded professional. Even our Rector and Vice-Chancellor are ardent supporters thereof. And then academic personnel say things like that. Do they not realise the damage they do?

I do not believe that someone with a medical degree should get to call himself a doctor. What does such a person do when faced with an illness that cannot be diagnosed? Or an illness with no cure? Or terminal disease? Chronic disease?

The WHO defines health as

A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.

How does someone with no leadership skills empower their patients? How does someone like that teach a patient to live with HIV, or to prevent HIV?

They don’t. Because they speak Medicine, not People.

And how does someone who dedicates his life simply to academics, remain a whole person, a person who is well.

The answer is simple:

They don’t.

That professor, with his PhD and his acclaim in medical journals will not change his mindset, and he will continue to see me as a silly little girl with high ideals. But he is wrong; and he does not belong in an esteemed place like the University of Stellenbosch.

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