Below are the comments arising from my article in a previous posting 'A doctor's opinion on the medical and pilot profession' (see here)
I'm now medical doctor in Malaysia. I've gone through Singapore Airlines' interview for cadet pilot years ago and succeeded. However, I gave up the dream of becoming a pilot and went to medical school instead.
After reading the comments made by Dr JB Lim,
---'Fortunately most doctors are too preoccupied, lazy, or academically not competent enough to understand highly academic literatures and highly specialized technical languages used in research papers. They cannot understand what's going on even in their own areas of medical sciences.' --
I felt disturbed as this statement is a bit overboard. Well, some doctors may fall into that category but I'm sure majority of the doctors DO actively involve in obtaining more knowledge and understand the advancement in medicine on daily basis.
I myself have even written a few case reports and randomised control trials and get published in both local and international medical journals. Thus, with all due respect, Dr JB Lim, your statement may be biased and need correction in some way.
Well, my opinion on Pilot vs Doctor, both come with great commitment and responsibility. Either one will take your social life away but at the same time will provide you with maximum job satisfaction.
It just depends whether you feel more satisfied and happier saving a life at the brink of death, or you like seeing smiling faces of your passengers and enjoy the blue sky out there.
A medical doctor
Here are my further comments on the doctor's view:
Correct! Not all doctors are preoccupied only in clinical work, lazy to read to update themselves, or academically incompetent, and able to understand highly academic literature and highly specialized technical languages used in research papers.
It all depends on individuals. Most of the doctors who academically knowledgeable in the latest advances in medicine or scientific research are those working in tertiary teaching hospitals where they have to train medical students and other doctors doing postgraduate work.
They have no choice but to update themselves on the latest research findings or a clinical procedure in order to teach.
In such institutions like a university or a medical school, their promotion is based almost entirely on the number of papers they published, and not on how many cases they saw and treated in a day or a month, or how many working hours, or overtime they put in doing all sorts of clinical and non-clinical duties, or how many meetings they attended in a month.
It is the number of research papers they have published, especially in international peer-reviewed and referred journals that counts.
This criterion is the hall-mark in any institution of higher learning, whether it be a research institute, a university or a medical school.
There is no escape. No one in the medical and scientific community is going to recognize the dedication and time or family sacrifice a doctor gave by seeing and treating patients routinely as this is his or her job.
It is the advances in medicine he /she contribute that gives him /her the recognition at least seen within the medical fraternity. Maybe to the patient it was the treatment he received that matters.
So the rat race for promotion goes on, say from an ordinary doctor to a registrar, onward to a consultant, then an associate professor, then a professor and finally the head of a medical department.
All these promotions depend crucially on the numbers of papers published in a refereed journal, and also on the numbers of papers presented at a scientific meeting or conference. This is what matters to the medical and scientific community.
For an ordinary doctor, especially GPs in retinue private practice, this is beyond his means and ability. He just does not have that sort of teaching, clinical or research exposure as found in a tertiary or teaching hospital.
So most doctors once they go into small private practice or works in a small hospital or clinic in a small town they just ‘rot’ away there unrecognized and unsung.
Of course in many countries, especially in advanced western countries, doctors now need to collect credit points by attending courses as part of their continuing medical education in order to renew their annual practicing license. But that is just a requirement forced into them. This does not constitute their contribution to the advances in medicine.
In order for doctors to achieve that, they must do research, not just treating patients. In Singapore for instance, they now want clinicians to be trained as scientists too, and the newer generations of medical students are being trained for that.
The student will be taught to be a researcher too as well as a clinician by the time they graduate. They don’t want doctors to be just clinicians, and leave research to the biomedical scientists. Both professions are needed in order for medicine to advance. These days, they work hand-in-hand.
So the current scenario of training medical specialists do expose the doctors to be academically competent and to be research orientated, not just be a doctor doing clinical work only.
My experience with specialists working in teaching hospitals, do find a handful them able to publish technical papers, although most of the papers published these days involve multi-disciplinary team work from many other scientific expertise.
Specialized areas of the work need to be referred to them for specialized laboratory investigations. The clinicians alone cannot do that.
Research based on just clinical work cannot go far. There is nothing to investigate beyond mere physical examination.
Hence, to be a clinician-scientist is much more recognized and in several ways far more interesting than just routinely treating patients.
However, in the end, it all depends on a person’s interest. Some doctors like just clinical work, others research and laboratory medicine, yet outside this spectrum of interest I know of doctors who just like to fly only.
Dr JB Lim
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