Congratulations on a provocative article
Congratulations on your article in the BMJ. I hope it inspires a
large and thoughtful response.
I have just had my 50th birthday and practise as a general medical
practitioner. I share your commitment to the spiritual side of living. I
am delighted that the local primary care trust has set up a one-day study
course on spiritual awareness, which I am attending next month. I work in
a very deprived area and I feel it is essential to acknowledge my
patients' spiritual strengths and spiritual distress in order to help them
to health and wholeness. It is also important to cherish every member of
staff and facilitate their personal growth.
There is more to life than being a doctor. Because I take a holistic
approach to the health of my city and the world, I work part-time and
devote some of my time and energy to other things. I am the chairman of a
local "global justice" group which produces a guide to fair trade in and
around Plymouth. Next month, as part of Fairtrade Fortnight, we are
organising a Fairtrade Fashion Show. I am a member of many other groups,
including Amnesty International, and take part in their campaigns.
I know the huge amount of factual knowledge you have to accumulate is
tiresome, but you need both scientific knowledge/skill and compassion to
be a good doctor. You can't do the job really well unless you have both.
You can't instill spiritual values into people; there is a limit to
what the education system can achieve. We can only hope that medical
students are chosen with an eye to their potential as truly holistic
practitioners. As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything
and perhaps for many students it is right to focus on the light-hearted
joy of life rather than the more serious issues which will need to be
dealt with at some stage but can wait.
I hope you find the spiritual sustenance and challenges which you
need in order to grow and to be fulfilled.
Competing interests: No competing interests