About To Medicine with Love

What could Medicine look and feel like if we restored love, caring and true compassion to the practice of our work?

We are two senior doctors and if we include our medical training, we have between us over 80 years of immersion in the world of Medicine. Neither of us has ever regretted choosing Medicine as our chosen career, because for all its flaws Medicine is an amazing Science and has the potential to be an even greater Art – if we are willing to put love at the heart of that Art.

Dr Jane Barker and Dr Anne Malatt
Dr Jane Barker and Dr Anne Malatt

All those years since that first day in medical school, brimming with that same excitement that we see in students today, we still feel like for-ever students learning from the journals, the guidelines, our colleagues, but also from our patients themselves. Looking forward from the days of our training, the progress in medical knowledge and technologies seems almost miraculous. Every door that opens leads to deeper questions, emphasising the unfathomable complexity and intricacy of the human body.

Yet despite all of this wonder, Medicine has problems here in Australia and across the globe. There is a sense of dissatisfaction among the public who report feeling that their needs are not met. There is a sense of dissatisfaction amongst doctors who find working in Medicine stressful and that they are continually battling against the “system”. There is a sense of constraint by health systems and finances, which are felt to affect patient care. Patients have high expectations of medical care, perhaps encouraged by access to information on the internet.

Answers have not necessarily been found by increasing funding. The USA is often used as an example, because despite having significantly higher health expenditure per capita, life expectancy is lower than in countries with half that expenditure. Training more doctors has also not offered a solution – in Australia we have found this has not as yet solved the inequity in provision of health care in rural areas and has perhaps led to an increase in the number of specialists and the consequent fragmentation of health care, which does not necessarily equate with better outcomes.

We feel that in part the progress in Medical science has been at the expense of the care that is given. We have been pondering on the question:

What would Medicine look like if we brought more care into medical care?

We would like for a moment to consider that we could look for true answers to the dilemmas of modern Medicine by looking through the eyes of Love.

Could that bring the insight we need to find answers to some of the moral and ethical issues we face in Medicine today?

Would young doctors feel more valued, nurtured and supported, instead of developing the cynicism which leads to a loss of faith in the profession?

Would it be an answer to the bullying described amongst our colleagues?

Could it be a way to truly meet our patients and better serve their needs?

Could medical clinics and hospitals become places of nourishment and restoration?

Could we restore medicine back to the true healing that was once at its foundation?

For Medicine to be all that it can be, it is important that we consider what love, caring and compassion in full measure could bring to our lives and those of our patients.

We invite you to join us on this exploration of true healing.

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