What Does it Mean to be a Doctor?
By Richard P. Holm MD
I think it is pertinent to this week’s topic of “ask anything” to pose the question: “What does it mean to be a doctor”? This is especially apropos as a new crop of doctors will be graduating from medical school this spring.
Did you know that in order to enter into the profession of medicine, each new doctor must make a serious promise? It is to profess or to give one’s solemn word to do the right thing in the name of all that is sacred, and this pledge is given in public for all to see and hear. By the way, it is this professing or promising that is the basis for the word “profession”.
In an issue of the medical journal Pharos, editor Edward Harris writes about the three parts to the promise. First it has to do with valuing service to others over personal reward. That means medicine is a profession that should not be undertaken with profit in mind. I would state here that clearly most premed students do not go into medicine for profit, although there may be a few that do, and I see them as the least blessed of the profession.
Next, Harris points out that as a medical profession, we should be responsible for monitoring who are ethical and competent enough to graduate from medical school, to be licensed to practice, and to continue to practice. It is important to protect the public from unethical or incompetent physicians, and that is why we have a State Board of Medical Examiners. Finally, we profess to keep the sacred trust of a valuable body of knowledge, to continuously critique, question, and challenge that knowledge, and to pass it on in order to benefit every individual patient.
Passing on knowledge is what we are trying to do with our television show On Call with the Prairie Doc®. That’s a promise.
Watch On Call with the Prairie Doc® most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central on SDPTV and follow the Prairie Doc® on Facebook and YouTube for free and easy access to the entire Prairie Doc® library.
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