When I was training to become a physician, the rules of the broken, outdated, patriarchal medical system were made clear to me. They went something like this.
The Old Medicine
As your doctor, I will sacrifice everything in my personal life in order to fix what is broken in you. I will stay awake when Iím exhausted, cross my legs when I have to pee, ignore my stomach when it growls, neglect my partner and children when they need me, allow my health to decline, and read all my medical journals so I can stay up to date on the latest in modern science. I will show up sick to work, endure unspeakable traumas in order to learn what I need to know to be an excellent physician, and I will prioritize medicine over everything else in my life. I will study what my forefathers have learned, attend lectures, consult with other physicians, practice my skills, follow the Hippocratic Oath, and vow to first do no harm, and then, hopefully, to do some good.
I will ask you questions, take notes when you talk, interpret your vital signs, and listen to the rhythms of your most crucial organs. I will order laboratory tests and X-rays to figure out whatís wrong, write prescriptions to treat you, refer you to a specialist (if I canít figure out whatís going on), operate when needed, and cover up or cut out any symptom that threatens to disable or destroy you.
As your doctor, I will bring to our relationship the hallowed knowledge of the best of modern science, the wisdom I have earned from years spent in ivory towers, the gifts garnered from the most gifted clinicians Iíve trained with, and the hard-won experience of practicing my craft. I will filter your health problems through the lens of my collective knowledge and churn out a diagnosis, a treatment, and a genuine desire to help you get well.
As my patient, you will trust my expertise, refrain from questioning my judgment, have patience when I make you wait, forgive me when Iím curt, keep your questions to a minimum because Iím very busy, and pay your health insurance premiums so I can give you the best care possible.† As my patient, you will follow up with all recommended tests and comply with all treatment plans, even if you donít understand or agree with what Iíve ordered, prescribed, or recommended.
As my patient, you will fill out all paperwork, jump through all hoops, get child care when you need it, take time off work, find transportation, and make any other arrangements necessary to prioritize your health, but if I have to cancel on you, you will understand, because some of my patients are sicker than you.