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Happy Doctor’s Day

Posted Jul 03 2008 4:12pm

Doctors’ Day is an opportunity to further good public relations for the medicos and gives patients a chance to express gratitude towards doctors.

First of July has been designated asDoctors’ Day in India. It is surprising to know how few people are aware of this. A random survey amongst the people around us, including doctors, will confirm this. Hence to expect people to know the significance of Doctors’ Day would be unrealistic.

It is indeed important that both doctors and patients be made aware of the existence of this day and at the same time, of its relevance and significance in the larger context of healthcare in this country.

Is first of July designated as Doctors’ Day all over the world? No, it is Doctors’ day only in India. For example, in the US, Doctors’ Day is on 30th March every year.

Let me give a short history of Doctors’ Day in the US. The first Doctors’ Day was observed in the US on March 30, 1933. The idea came from Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr Cha Almond, and the date was the anniversary of the use of general anaesthetic in surgery. On March 30, 1842, Dr Crawford Long used ether to remove a tumour from a patient’s neck.

To commemorate the event, the Barrow County Medical Auxiliary proclaimed the day as ‘Doctors’ Day’, which was celebrated by mailing cards to physicians and their wives, and placing flowers on the graves of deceased doctors, including Dr Long.

The United States House of Representatives adopted a resolution commemorating Doctors’ Day on March 30, 1958. In 1990, a legislation was introduced in the House and the Senate to establish a national Doctors’ Day. Following overwhelming approval by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the then President George Bush signed a resolution designating March 30 ‘National Doctors’ Day’. It is worthwhile reproducing the exact words of the Resolution that was passed by the Senate:

Whereas society owes a debt of gratitude to physicians for their contributions in enlarging the reservoir of scientific knowledge, increasing the number of scientific tools, and expanding the ability of professionals to use the knowledge and tools effectively in the never ending fight against disease and death.

Whereas society owes a debt of gratitude to physicians for the sympathy and compassion of physicians in administering the sick and alleviating human suffering. Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress as follows:

1. March 30 is designated as National Doctors Day.

2. The President is authorised and requested to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States of America to celebrate the day with appropriate programmes, ceremonies and activities.

The enactment of this law enables the citizens of the United States to publicly show their appreciation to the role of physicians in caring for the sick, advancing medical knowledge and promoting health.

Subsequently, over the years, March 30 came to be regularly celebrated as Doctors’ Day in the US and card manufacturers designed cards to help people show appreciation for doctors “those who care for us all- women during pregnancy, children from birth, those with long-term or terminal illness, those wishing to improve their quality of life through medical science or counselling - anyone who needs care.”

A typical Doctors’ Day card says on the cover:Honouring you for your skill and commitment as a doctor!

And on the inside it says:Your ability to comfort and heal means so much. Your dedication really makes a difference in the lives of others. Happy Doctors’ Day

Now, coming closer home, how did first of July get to be designated Doctors’ Day in India. First of July happens to be the birthday of a very famous Physician of India, Dr B C Roy.

Dr B C Roy was born on July 1, 1882 at Bankipore in Patna in Bihar. His career as a physician started in 1911 when he came back to India from Bartholomew’s hospital in the UK having completed his MRCP. Thereafter, he joined the teaching staff of Calcutta Medical College and later moved to Campbell Medical School and then to Carmichael Medical College. He dedicated his life to the upliftment of Indian society, especially, the downtrodden.

Not only did he excel as a physician, he was an educationist, social reformer, freedom fighter (joined Mahatma Gandhi in the Civil Disobedience movement), leader of Indian National Congress and later chief minister of West Bengal. Dr B C Roy passed away on July 1, 1962 on his birthday.

Thus July 1st was considered an appropriate day to be designated as Doctors’ Day- a tribute to Dr B C Roy and the entire medical profession.

Personally, I feel Doctors’ Day should get much more importance than it has received hitherto in our country.

There are two reasons why we as doctors need to heighten interest in Doctors’ Day. Firstly, Doctors’ Day affords an excellent opportunity to further good public relations for the medical profession. And to say that there is a need for the same will be an understatement. Hence, it would be a good idea to mark Doctors’ Day with some type of community service projects and activities.

For instance, organising Cancer awareness programmes, CPR classes, blood donation drives, organ donation awareness, anti-smoking campaigns, medical aid to senior citizens, among others.

All these can only create a fund of goodwill for the profession. However, it is essential to ensure that these projects are initiated and conducted by medical associations/organisations and not left to some NGOs or service organisations. The second benefit of promoting Doctors Day will be obvious if you were to ponder on the following:

If you were to look back in your practice, you will find that vast majority of your patients are satisfied with your treatment are grateful to you for the sympathy with which you look after them or their near and dear ones; and have a great deal of respect and regard for you. There would be many who probably owed their life or lack of disability to your timely and competent treatment.

There is also, of course, a small percentage of disgruntled and dissatisfied patients (for real or imaginary reasons). This holds true for each and every doctor. But the strange thing is that it is only this latter group of patients, who are in a small minority, who are vocal and visible in the media (print or electronic) or in social circles. This gives a skewed image of the medical profession and makes it appear that everything is wrong with the profession.

I always wonder what happened to the large majority of patients who were recipient of competent and humane treatment from doctors and have reason to feel grateful to doctors. Why do they not stand up and express what they surely feel?

Why cant their hearts at least publicly say Thank You, Doctor! And what better day to say this than Doctors’ Day ! Surely, this will provide a feel-good factor to all the good, honest and dedicated doctors.

Surely, this will negate to some extent the unfavorable, demoralizing, and vexatious pronouncements of the above mentioned minority of patients grossly exaggerated by the media and some other agencies. And towards this objective, it is worth while trying to wake up this silent majority of patients who have a prayer in their hearts for doctors but don’t speak out and let the world know.

Happy Doctors’ Day!

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