Shaalan Health System

TIME FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS TO PUT THEIR BEST FOOT FORWARD. A.K.Shaalan, M.D.
The EgyptianTahrir square revolution was not simply about overthrowing the government but the transformation of an entire society that Egypt has struggled with over the past six decades exacting its price on behaviors and attitudes of all people including all professionals. I shall limit my discussion to my area of experience and that being the medical profession. Historically, the health care profession in Egypt was held in high esteem since ancient times and continued to do so until the turbulent times of the past six decades when failed political experiments and major ideological differences seriously impacted the professional culture including medical education, core competence and ethical behaviors. We physicians as individuals and groups, must grab this momentous occasion and take it upon ourselves to reinforce the needed behaviors immediately at the micro level while radical reform strategies are simultaneously taking place at the macro level. The first and most logic locus to start this immediate change is with the individual physician himself. HOW TO START Medical ethics inculcates physicians to keep the good of their patients as their highest priority and to act in the best interest of their patients. This altruistic ideology places a heavy responsibility on physicians who are genetically not any different from other members of human society that is not inherently programmed to be altruistic. First and foremost, physicians must be well versed as to the Patient s Bill of Rights, a statement of the rights to which patients are entitled as recipients of medical care. Typically, a statement articulates the positive rights which doctors and hospitals ought to provide patients, thereby providing information, offering fair treatment, and granting them autonomy over medical decisions. The medical profession has long subscribed to a body of ethical statements and standards developed primarily for the benefit of the patient. As members of this profession, physicians are expected to bring to bear their responsibility not only to patients, but also to society, to other health professionals, and to themselves. These are not laws but standards of conduct that define the essentials of honorable behavior for the physician. They are aimed at cultivating humanistic qualities in patient encounters. Despite the fact that they are common knowledge to most of us, we all know that they are not universally practiced because they are not included as a dedicated educational program in our academic curricula. Briefly, the statement addresses the patients; needs and expectations as outlined below: To be treated with courtesy and respect. To be charged appropriately for their medical care. To be given, on request, information on financial resources. To have their privacy protected.

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Shaalan Health System

To be assured of the confidentiality of their medical record and the right to access information from it. To have information about their diagnosis, choices, risks and benefits of treatment. To refuse treatment if they wish. To recognize the differences in individuals values, beliefs and life philosophies. To be cared for by skilled doctors. Anessential requirement in any healthcare provider is to be socially intelligent. This is an acquired attribute that can be learned. Two important prerequisite are: A. Social Awareness - that is awareness of the needs, expectations & individual differences. Physicians must be keenly attuned to these two facts. They must be considerate of individual cultural characteristics such as socioeconomic status, educational level, occupation, family issues.They should be well aware of the national economic and cultural norms as well as the capabilities of our heath care industry given that more than 40% of the population live under the international line of poverty. The vast majority of the 45 million Egyptians under 35 years of age are concerned with survival, trapped in circles of economic suppression and political repression; new business or work opportunities are beyond their capabilities and acquired skills. B. Social Capability - meaning how to interact effectively. How to interact effectively, presenting oneself effectively, interacting smoothly at the verbal & nonverbal levels; how to influence and shape the outcome of the interaction; how to have empathetic concern for others and acting accordingly and above all how to treat compassionately, for compassion is the sine qua non of a good physician;by committing to applyingthe Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and better yet is the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them .

As we celebrate the triumph of this monumental and awe inspiring revolution led by our young people and joined by citizens of all ages, genders, and classes, providing hope and inspiration for all of Egypt, the Arab world and beyond, Egyptian medical professionals must put their best foot forward and show their solidarity in regaining the dignity, civic identity and honor of their profession.

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