When I was a very little boy, I had a special image of three types of people: priests, queens and doctors. Priests never did anything morally wrong, queens never had to go to the bathroom, and doctors never died.
Soon I realised that reality proved to be different. As a grown-up I look back smiling on this childish naiveté. Only now I realise that there was actually logic to these thoughts. Let me restrict myself here to the idea that doctors never die. Apparently I made the following assumptions:
1. All disease is preventable or curable.
2. Doctors know how disease can be prevented or cured.
3. Doctors know how to live in order to prevent disease in themselves and/or
4. are able to recognize and cure their own disease.
From a psychological perspective, the third assumption is the most interesting: doctors live a healthy life. As a child I never understood that also doctors have to weigh future health and happiness against short term pleasure, enjoyment and ease.
Now I understand that doctors are human beings, with also this human weakness, and not demigods. What surprises me still, is that also many professional organisations as hospitals suffer from this human weakness. Apparently I did not learn much since early childhood, because I still do not understand this at all.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about smoking and eating. How can it be that a respected medical institution impresses upon patients (and everyone else) that smoking is very unhealthy, when at the same time it allows smoking on its own premises, as is the case in some hospitals? And how can they allow doctors and nurses to smoke in public?
And how can they state that healthy food is very important when also offering sausage rolls, cheese soufflés, bacon sandwiches and kroketten* for lunch or at a reception? How serious are they then about their patients and guests? How serious do they take their own words?
The child in me, however, remains strong and optimistic. It will even make a daring prediction for all the hospitals in our country: within at most ten years their integrity, self-respect and real concern for their patients will triumph! And their restaurants, lunches and receptions will set the example of how healthy foods can be delicious as well. I am looking forward to it.
A blog by Frank Geene
* a kroket is a dutch deep-fried ragout filled snack coated with bread crumbs.