I would never argue with a mechanic if they told me that something in my car is terribly wrong and it could be unsafe to drive it unless it is fixed. I mean what do I know about cars? I definitely don’t have a passion for them, I haven’t grown up learning about them, knowing about all their parts and how they work, most importantly what is safe or not safe. I don’t know the slightest thing about cars, yet my car is expected to take me safely from place A to place B on a daily basis. People die in cars and on the roads. So if my mechanic tells me to do something, I do it. Because he is the expert. Sure he makes a lot of money off me and half the time I’m sure he’s adding in a few non urgent things in there to make an extra buck, but I still do what he says because I trust he knows what he’s doing and safety is just not worth the risk.
I don’t do my tax. I gather the information I need to get it done. I try hard to understand all the numbers. But at the end of the day I leave it all to my accountant. After all they are the ones who have studied it and earned a degree in it, they know the ins and outs of it, they cover us and cover themselves too. I trust them with my money and my finances because they are the ones equipped to do it. Much more than I trust myself and my useless non numbers brain that hasn’t had to use mathematics since high school. If my accountant advised me to do something to help with my finances, sure I’d have an opinion, I’d ask questions, but at the end of the day if it’s one I trust I’d do what they say. Who am I to argue when I’m not the one who has the knowledge in the field? If I trust them with my money, then I trust their recommendations.
I hate going to the dentist. It’s painful, they always just tell me off (my sweet tooth lets me down every time. Every. Single. Time) Sometimes they give me advice – sometimes I listen, other times I start for about a week then slip back in to my bad habits. My fault though. And of course the next time I go I am told off all over again and off they go doing their fillings and torture me in all their other horribly painful ways. All in the while I don’t argue with them, I don’t question them. I don’t say I know better than you what to do with my teeth. No way! I didn’t go through an expensive course, with years of learning, research, practice etc to argue with a specialist of teeth!! Sure dentists are among the top earning medical professionals and my chocolate obsession has funded the Bentleigh out the front but I still do what they say because I don’t know any better and I trust they know what they’re doing.
I can’t cut and colour my hair. I love having it coloured and I’ve always been one to try to all different hair styles – short, fringe, long fringe, peroxide blonde (yes Beyonce blonde), pitch black, “brown” which really ended up being a revolting tinge of burnt rust when I tried to do it myself. Sure I can buy the packet dye and give it a go but it always turns out shocking. So I see a hair dresser. She’s amazing. No matter what condition my hair is in she somehow fixes it up and makes it as good as new. I don’t attempt to do this myself any more. Best leaving this to the experts. They’re the one’s who know all about hair, different types of hair, best colours and styles etc so if I need advice and need my hair done there’s no one else I’d trust other than my hair dresser.
Basically every single thing in our lives, every service provider we deal with, every job we need done, we have to have a certain level of trust with them. When we need help, advice, a solution, we call the expert in that field. That’s the way the world works. We send our children to school to they can learn from teachers, we call the police when we are concerned about crime, we see the vet if our pet is sick, we go to the bank when we need a loan, hire a tradie when something in the house needs to be fixed – you get the drift. And I would have a level of trust in them because I know that they know what they are doing, and I know they have the knowledge to do it. Yes there are always some in each field who are better than others. Some with more experience than others. But in general, if it’s something they know a whole lot more about than me, then who am I to argue?
So why is it, when on a daily basis we trust experts in their field to do all the things we can’t, why is it that coming in to hospital and seeing a doctor is so different? We too have spent years studying, not just studying – slaving away. There are a billion research and evidence based practices behind what we do. We have experience in our field. We learn from those more senior who pass on their knowledge to us. Trust me when I say it is not easy to become, or stay, a doctor. There’s a reason why you require the highest grades at school and go through gruelling study and exams before even being allowed to see a patient. There’s a reason why even when you start working it is an even longer process to progress in your career and responsibility comes with seniority and experience not age or just skill. There’s a reason why they make us go to journal clubs and study the most up to date information and a reason why so many generous people donate millions of dollars every year for even more research. If being a doctor was easy more people would do it, trust me every year hundreds of hopefuls miss out in every state, country the world. Google doesn’t replace a hard earned medical degree and years of work. Just like my mechanic knows all sorts of things about my car that I would never even dream of knowing, we happen to know a fair bit about the human body, health and disease.
I’m 100% not alone when I say as a Paediatric doctor we occasionally see parents who bring their children in to hospital because they are concerned and then go on to refuse every single investigation or medication we recommend, or will pick and choose which part of our management they agree with and which parts they know better than us on. Some come to us for advice then disagree with everything we are concerned about, but they happily use a variety of medications themselves, will see various health practitioners who do all sorts of things to their child, yet something we suggest in the best interest of their child is suddenly all wrong. I had a mum refuse Vitamin K in a baby. This is something that we provide to all newborns. Newborn baby’s are known to be at higher risk of bleeding and Vitamin K injections at birth have mountains of evidence that proves to reduce the risk of bleeding especially in the brain, and death. It is life saving. But this mum, who had just had an epidural, antibiotics in the labour and was on multiple medications herself refused the vitamin K for her baby because she didn’t believe in drugs!! Don’t even get me started on the immunisation debate..
We are one of the few professionals who have nothing to gain. In the public system we are paid by the hour, and often not paid for the mountains of extra hours we do, we do not get a commission from the tests we order, we do not receive a bonus from the pharmaceutical companies, we have nothing to gain apart from trying to help the patient we are seeing, we have absolutely no one’s best interest in mind apart from theirs, even above our own. Yet we are the one profession questioned on a daily basis and we are the one profession sued when anything goes wrong. We too are entitled to be trusted. If you seek help from a medical professional, it is because they are a medical professional. If I want my car fixed I see a mechanic. What do I know about cars?!
Be healthy, be happy, be kind.
Dr. Nelu x
(Photo credit: http://www.doctorbrakes.com)