By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
During a recent visit to the Emergency Department of a local hospital, and following treatment, the doctor handed me a prescription, which he painstakingly stated should be given to my medical professional.
As the paper made contact with my outstretched hand, my brain jumpstarted into deeper thinking mode—Did he mean my doctor? Pray say, when did the terms “doctor” and “physician” become obsolete.
Although long retired from a lengthy career in the medical profession, I have not been familiarized with any such changes. However, judging from the drug advertisements and medical commercials I hear, not to mention the television, it is somewhat apparent that the socially or politically correct labels have now become “medical professionals” and “healthcare providers”.
Guide me gently back to reality, but if you have been arrested for a crime, which you did not commit, do you request a legal professional. Hell no! You need a lawyer.
And so when I am ill, I need a doctor, not a medical professional. I know what a doctor is, but a medical professional can be anything. Trust me, I know that doctors are, by definition, medical professionals, but so are nurses and other trained caregivers. It is also true that doctors are healthcare providers, but so are insurance companies and Band Aid manufacturers.
From whence or where did this trend emerge in our society, of disposing of the long-established conventional names of people and things in favor of more complex, nebulous descriptions?
Hospital became Medical Center. What will it be next? Wholeness Village? Is nurse still the title for a nurse or is it health provider? And if we refer to both nurses and doctors as health providers, how do we make the distinction between the two?
Is the point being made that there should be no distinction between health workers, as everyone is equally important. Bravo for egalitarianism!
Incidentally, how come pharmaceutical companies are not referred to as healthcare providers? They most definitely are not. They produce and provide lifesaving healthcare medicines to millions of people the world over. Don’t they? But to call them healthcare providers would be putting them in a positive light, and that cannot afford to be done. Instead they are disparaged and called drug companies. And the industry, as a whole, is vilified with the negative term, “big pharma”. Meanwhile without their important products many people would die.
From time immemorial doctors have been considered members of the most esteemed and honored profession in society. Everyone admired and revered doctors, and all with good reason. Your doctors possess the savvy, ability, and desire to cure what ails you. Additionally when they did not have all the answers, they had a way of making you feel better — offering a comforting word, a positive suggestion, and even a gentle touch.
From my stance, it appears as if the moment the government stuck their nose into the medical profession, the role of the doctor changed. Currently much of their authority has been taken over by government, with new complicated federal and provincial laws, many of which are in a constant state of flux.
Doctors are drowning in mandatory paperwork, demanded by government agencies. Valuable physician time and resources, which could, and should, be focused on the patients, are taken up instead, in regulation nonsense.
Another frightful part is, when one considers how deeply involved the government is, as regards a doctor’s practice, it is almost as if the once-respected, independent physician has become nothing more than just another government employee — the medical equivalent of Canada Post or Quebec Automobile Insurance.
Not wanting to appear as the harbinger of doom, but it may be only a matter of time before big government takes over all healthcare in the nation, completely. In the meantime, I will continue calling my doctor, doctor.
I have not conducted a survey on it, but I will bet my last dime that most doctors still prefer to be called doctors and not healthcare providers, or medical professionals or wellness practitioners. And certainly not government employees.
The struggle continues.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.