Thursday, May 28, 2009

Idealism, Pragmatism, and Jadedness

A few days ago, I spoke with one of my dad's associates in the ministry. He is a military official formerly assigned to teach at the premiere military training institution in our country. He has one brother, a doctor now in Singapore.

He asked me about my training plans and I told him about how the US thing didn't work out and about wanting to do residency at the Medical City. He then told me about his brother and the story got me thinking about the events that transpired in my own life these past few months.

His brother and I share the same alma mater. After the medical board exam, he did his residency training in Internal Medicine at the same hospital. Back then, his brother was the type of doctor who, when his patient died, was devastated and cried for three days. He would spend almost all his money on his poor patients, buying them medicines or paying for their lab tests. This even caused some friction between him and his mother.

After residency training, he was supposed to go into fellowship training but then decided to go to Singapore to work on a Masters degree (non-clinical work, I think). After getting the degree, he worked for a Singaporean company that does medical research. He's been in Singapore ever since.

My dad's friend also told me about how his brother, over time, lost his heart for clinical work. Towards the end of training, he somehow became pragmatic to a fault - why save someone when it was futile - when in the beginning, he was all "save, save, save." He tried to return to Manila to practice Medicine but found that there was no space for him at our alma mater so he went back to Singapore.

When asked to describe myself in almost all social media sites, I give the same description: "An occasional writer whose current preoccupation is getting through medical training unscathed and unjaded." And believe it or not, I mean those last few words with all my heart. I am journeying through this medicine thing knowing that I have as much tendency to become jaded as the next doctor-in-training and I don't ever want to become jaded.

I believe there's a very thin line separating being pragmatic and being jaded. And don't get me wrong, there is a place and time for being pragmatic. That thin separating line, however, is more often than not blurred in clinical medicine. That's why I think it's best to stay as far away from that borderline as possible. I'd rather be called an idealist doctor but knowing myself, I probably am not.

In a few months, I will enter residency training and I believe that it is then when the real battle begins. I need to be able to strike a careful balance between pragmatism and idealism without ever once becoming jaded. But the truth of the matter is, it will probably take a lifetime before I ever get there.


The Fish said...

Surprised by this post. :)

karlmd said...

Surprised? Surprised in a good way? a bad way? a confused way? Hehe.