To Help People

During orientation for my third-year obstetrics rotation, one of the senior obstetricians picked on me and asked, “Why did you choose to study medicine?” and I almost immediately answered, “To help people.” Then he accused me of being a liar insisting that we had all joined medicine to make money.

He was right actually, making money was high on my list of criteria for choosing a career. With the job security and decent pay, at least I would be able to keep a roof over my head and put food on the table. What he wasn’t right about though was that I didn’t primarily choose this career to help people.

In fact, number one reason why I chose medicine was for the benefit of others. I wanted as I have always wanted to, to help people in need and I had reasoned earlier that the best way I could do this was by becoming a doctor. But after four years of med school, a ton more exposure and wisdom, I offer this advice, if the sole reason you want to do medicine is to help people, then don’t!

Not only did I consider medicine the best way I could help people, it was to me the only way I could. I had long given up on all my hobbies and talents that I couldn’t look beyond the academic path that had somehow invariably led to medicine. Worse still, I didn’t have the courage to try anything else. What you realise sooner than later in medical school is that there are many ways you can help people and many of these may actually be at your disposal.

Patients in hospitals do not only die because the doctors are bad or incompetent but also because the nurses are negligent and there are no drugs and sundries in the hospital or the health workers are overwhelmed by the workload. The public health systems are ineffective, family supports are lacking, morals are decayed…There are many reasons for our suffering and all of them are worth our time and efforts to solve them.

Not all philanthropists are doctors and neither is medicine the highest form of altruism.

I appreciate that people who are not doctors can have a tremendous effect on the health of patients. One wonders, if to save lives was one’s primary goal then why choose to become a doctor. If all you want to do is help people, then let that be your primary goal, not becoming a doctor!

Consider yourself, your abilities, opportunities, and weaknesses. Is this really the best way you could be of help to others? And it might be true for you that this is indeed the best way you could be of service to other people in which case you should waste no time in applying to medical school and putting in the hard work because the world needs you. But if you could help people better in another capacity, go for it. You could save a life now and then as a doctor but you would be much more effective in another profession say as an educator, business person, politician, spiritual leader and so on. By insisting on pursuing a career in medicine, you are not fully exploring your potential. In fact, medicine is in a sense below you because it does not display you in all your colours; it does not challenge you in the ways that matter. Think outside the box, outgrow your childish ways. Believe it or not, there are more ways to help people than by being a doctor.

Featured image: Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, a philanthropic organisation. Bill is not a doctor!

Short of rape and gender based violence

I am not a big fan of cultures be it in music or conversations that belittle the dignity of women. By refusing to buy into these cultures I hope to do my part, no matter how small, even if only for the benefit of keeping a clean conscience, in protecting women, my girlfriends, sisters and mothers from these harmful cultures. Surprisingly though, I am often shocked to find that the women I am trying to protect do not share my concerns.

When I used to hear a song objectifying women, promoting their subservience to men, I used to think that the women wouldn’t dance to it. Well not only do they dance to it, they also promote it to their friends. And I am not referring merely to explicit content cos that’s fine by me so long as it’s to an appropriate audience and there is mutual respect between the parties involved. Rather my issue is with the fact that this music is not only explicit but also demeaning to women.

And what’s the result, sexism is validated. Because if I called you a bitch and you replied with a yes sir, then there couldn’t be anything wrong with that. And it might be that these women do not actually like being called bitches and whores but that they have given up altogether on trying to fight a losing battle. So they have bought into the sexist culture because it seems to pay more than being stuck up bold by demanding respect in a misogynist majority.

What they don’t realize though is that the situation only gets worse for women. For what is to stop a boy that has been taught by his older brothers that the number of women he can deceive into sleeping with him validates him as a man from seeing women as merely a means to feed his ego? What is to stop a man who was told since childhood that sex is a right as opposed to a privilege in marriage from raping his wife? The problem is that these boys were introduced to the hardcore porn equivalent of sexism at a time when they were supposed to be schooled in matters of gender equality and manhood.

When we allow for our culture to be polluted with explicit and subtle sexism, it eventually gets to our heads and the occasional talk, presentation or sermon on respect for women can not reverse it.

And the concern here is not only that boys become sex offenders or assault women but also that they will not respect their female superiors, women will be passed for promotions in favor of less-qualified men and women aspire to be less than their male counterparts so as to protect their egos.

When you call a woman a bitch, slut or whore; when you objectify her God-given endowments like it’s a crime she was born that way; when you insult her intelligence in front of other men, it feels good, doesn’t it? But you can not do these and love your mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, and daughter at the same time. Because the abuse you personally spare the women in your life you instead perpetuate by instructing other men to inflict it on them.

In the end, it’s not just a riddim, it’s not an innocent joke and it’s not just locker room talk but rather an instrument of violence on the people we love and care about. And I understand that we can not simply shut down all the sexist voices around us for they are quite a number but that we can all do our part in stopping their propagation for as long as it depends on us. With our collective efforts, who knows there might be a time when all such voices would be a thing of the past.

Featured image: Lil Wayne graffiti from pixabay

The Measure of Success

Who’s a successful doctor? Especially when we can succeed or fail in a number of ways like financially, in family, career, friendships and society… all these are important and yet it is hard to succeed in all of them. All of these have the potential to be of great concern in choosing a specialty as a doctor or any career for that matter. But I also think that for all health professionals, one thing remains most important by far and that is patient care. Care for the patient is still more important than any other factor because of the nature of the commitment we made when we first set out on this journey, to be the protectors of life and good health and these, life and good health, are invaluable.

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Induced by loneliness

When I confessed in a post that I suffer from depression, a lot of my friends took interest in my mental health. A few (very few) were willing to consider my claims but the vast majority were not buying it. They thought that I was over appraising my symptoms and that basing on their own observations, I was a very happy guy. Now I know I was wrong to diagnose myself as I couldn’t have been objective about it. I have been psychoanalyzed by a specialist but his verdict was not to the specificity that I offered in that post. For this reason, I have since deleted that post from here. Nonetheless, I still have depressive symptoms from time to time which is how I have the audacity to continue writing about it.

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Who’s a hoe?

I was chatting with a friend the other day when the subject of whores came up. Particularly, what’s a woman’s number got to be to earn her the title whore? I was shocked by his opinion. By his definition, nearly all women were whores. So I hoped to challenge him by noting, “So you are most likely going to marry a whore,” and to this, he replied, “Definitely, for me, I accepted a long time ago that I would marry a whore!”

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Be a Man!

 

Recently I offended a lady and she said to me, “You know wearing trousers is not sufficient for being a man.” And of that, I thought, well of course! For instance, women wear trousers; I don’t think of them as men, do I? But then she wasn’t just offering a piece of common information but rather implying that I was not a man.

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What’s in a name?

I have been going to the gym since late Jan and these are the results:

While there I met a guy; interesting one actually! It was my first time at the gym and since he had joined only a week after me, also for his first time, we were naturally paired as gym partners. Other than his francophone accent and undeniable novelty to the scene, his unapologetic social skills made him pop out of the background of gym rats.

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