I concur with the writer of “Why is NUS medical school slipping in rankings?” (May 9) that the product of our medical schools must be doctors with impeccable integrity and compassion.
Over the years, medicine has been dehumanised; doctors are being forced to behave more like businessmen.
Medical care has become a commodity for sale. Patients dehumanise doctors when they treat doctors as technicians whose services can be bought for a price or when they put doctors on a pedestal and regard them as demigods who cannot and must not fail to deliver a cure.
The spirit of consumerism has given rise to the illusion that health can be bought with hard cash. Unfortunately, the reality is that even with all the medical advances, doctors will never conquer death.
Doctors are tempted to hide behind their professional mask, while patients mask their inner hurts and spiritual distress with their symptoms.
Consequently, patients are seen as consumers of medical technology, rather than humans who are struggling to find meaning in life and who need the tender, loving care of a fellow human.
The responsibility for producing humane doctors with integrity and compassion lies not only in our medical schools. Doctors are also a product of society.
The spirit of compassion cannot thrive in a materialistic, meritocratic society that measures success solely in terms of monetary rewards.
Our society needs a radical mindset change. We must move from an individualistic, competitive society to a cooperative society with the kampung spirit. To this end, we must focus on the spiritual dimension of life.
We need a spiritual revolution so that we will be able to make better use of our growing knowledge in all fields, with wisdom and for the common good.
We must recognise that to find real meaning in life, we must live beyond ourselves to be a blessing to others.
When we live to pursue wealth, health and happiness only for ourselves, we will find that meaningless and futile when we reach the top of the ladder of success. In achieving material success without spiritual growth, we may gain the world but lose our souls.
(Dr) Patrick Kee Chin Wah