Dr. FIAZ MAQBOOL FAZILI
Noble profession or sorriest of trades?
“Knowledge is power.” The words of Sir Francis Bacon still ring true almost 400 years later, especially that knowledge, a blessing most of us gain the power to save the lives of people that we encounter, which I learned as a student in medical school. For most people, throughout most of history, the experience of work has not been very pleasurable or even comfortable. Even in today’s contemporary and biz world, for most of earth's population, work is not a luxury, but rather a "necessary evil" in their struggle to survive! From a historical perspective, work is worship - the cultural norm placing a positive moral value on doing a good job because work has intrinsic value for its own sake. Numerous scriptures from the Old Testament to Holy Quran in fact supported work, not from the stance that it was necessary to prevent poverty and destitution, but from the premise that there are many rewards and joyful satisfaction in it especially when we do our work or dispose professional responsibilities with commitment, compassion and dedication.
Blessing or Curse?
Working in Medical profession is considered a blessing, they’re chosen ones when work is considered as worship, visiting and taking care of sick to alleviate their pain and suffering is a huge opportunity to earn rewards even during their paid job, sadly some ignorant care providers (Doctors, Paramedics etc) ignore this valued returns turn it into curse because of non-empathetic behaviour resulting either out of carefree egoism, conflict of interest or haughtiness of self-esteem. As I looked at the Holy Scriptures for evidence of the virtue of taking care of one who is sick, visiting or looking after a patient I would like to share some promises on the reward that awaits the one who takes care of one who is sick. Important is to understand for whom you really work, one of the greatest of deeds before Allah , may He be exalted, one of the dearest to the Most Merciful, one of the highest in honour and greatest in chivalry, is showing kindness to the weak and the sick, taking care of them and looking after them.
The one who meets the needs of his /her brother, Almighty Allah will meet his / her needs. Whoever removes a worldly hardship, relieves His creation of distress, Allah will relieve him /her of distress on the day of Resurrection. Visiting the sick is the right of a faithful over other fellow faithful ordained in Islamic scriptures. It strengthens brotherhood and helps to psychologically reduce the pain of the sick. In visiting a sick person by healthcare provider is not only the fulfilment of duty, but it is the appreciation of spiritual happiness and satisfaction in the obedience of a godly commandment, but it is to earn pleasure of Almighty Allah who witnesses this noble act and then rewards it generously. Unarguably it is our professional responsibility to visit the sick but by expressing the light of human emotion, compassion and civility is to share in the joy of His work. It mends broken hearts, wipes flowing tears, relieves despair and depression, strengthens trust, and encourages hope and faithfulness. Most importantly, it is a means of acquiring great reward from Allah and practicing an established sunnah (way) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said, “When the Believer visits his (sick) brother, he will remain in [picking] the fresh fruits of Paradise until he returns,”.
Prophet (peace be upon him) also gave glad tidings, “No Muslim visits a (sick) Muslim in the morning but seventy thousand angels will pray for him until the evening, and if he visits him in the evening, seventy thousand angels will pray for him until the morning, and there will be for him [his share of] fresh fruits in Paradise.” [Tirmidhi]. A sick person may not be physically alone at the time of need; the warm visits, the kindly smiles, the compassionate words, the sincere supplications and the selfless empathy of the people around him envelop him and alleviate his suffering. The one who stays with the one who is sick and takes care of him /her and looks after him /her has done good by serving him /her and caring for him/her, and Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “and do good. Truly, Allah loves (the good doers)”.
Did something happen that changed society's view of work?
Medicine is a noble profession guided by certain tenets, among them the Hippocratic oath, which remained relevant for the past 2,400 years. Medicine is an art whose magic and creative ability have long been recognized as residing in the interpersonal aspects of patient-physician relationship. Nowadays one rarely finds healthcare professionals of inspiring stature with strong commitments who, unmindful of the difficulties they face in the rough and tumble of their daily duties in a chaotic hospital environment, strive hard to inculcate time-honoured values in the minds of providers of healthcare. The close bond between the care providers and receivers is missing, with the result duty has become just fulfilling formality of a job. What is expected of healthcare providers to approach work with passion and zeal. Helping the one who is sick and serving him /her is an act of charity. The same applies to helping the person himself, carrying him /her or helping him /her to walk or sleep, (be it nurses, doctors, paramedics, even attendant’s) treating him or her even talking to patients empathetically reassuring him /her -and the faith patient reposes in care provider/ Doctor, Nurse.)
All acts are recorded as charity. The one who takes care of one who is sick must have the characteristic of patience because of what health care providers will encounter difficulty in staying up at night, and watching and tending to the one who is sick. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning”. To meet the need of a brother/sister is dearer to me than praying a thousand prayers. Congratulations to the one whom Allah the Almighty enables to extend a helping hand to the weak, sick, and needy; congratulations to the one who spends his /her life and his/her time doing acts of kindness. We hope that Allah will bestow upon him/her mercy and pardon and be pleased with him /her. Your work can take on greater significance when you realize that you are not merely working for human beings, but to please God too!
Workplace statutes, healthcare quality and safety standards can save lives and encourage a safe and healthy work environment. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, founded in 1971, has administered regulations estimated to have cut workplace fatalities by more than 60 percent, and occupational injury and illness rates by 40 percent. However, long before OSHA existed, almighty God established regulations to provide for a safe and healthy environment. For example: "And if a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls in it, the owner of the pit shall make it good" (Exodus 21:33–34).
Trust in character is cumulative and earned over time as when you keep your professional ethics, morality, honor intentions, and meet agreed/implied expectations. The importance of Doctor-Patient relationships communication and trust in Healthcare are vital in medicine. Healthcare providers behaviours, attitudes come under empathetic behaviours (ikhlaqiyat) thus communication Skills of Physicians is important for patients’ satisfaction? Doctors need to have good communication skills. It is also essential that health care providers be compassionate. Those who show mercy will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Show mercy to those who are on earth, especially needy ones, sick people and the One Who is in heaven will show mercy to you.
Good communication skills among the doctors are crucial in building a trust that not only helps in therapeutic success by providing holistic care to the patient but also leads to patient satisfaction. Not many doctors are naturally blessed to have good communication skills and there is necessity of formal training in this.
Hope we all are guided and realize the bounty which we have been bestowed upon by being in the medical profession - or as attendants of sick, big opportunity to serve and earn huge rewards.
(Dr. Fiaz Maqbool Fazili is Consultant surgeon, Expert on healthcare policy planning, Quality improvement standards.)