What is our primary concern?

Medicine can be exhilarating. Many experiences during my residency will remain with me for the entirety of my life. I cherished the challenges such as maintaining adequate blood pressure in a critically ill infant, stabilizing a five year-old with severe asthma or admitting an 11 year-old with new onset kidney failure. The euphoria of using knowledge to help a child recover from a severe illness is nearly indescribable. I felt ultimate satisfaction if I could help a sick patient achieve a state of wellness.

After only two weeks in the DRC I have had an epiphany. Helping patients become healthy via secondary or tertiary care is wonderful, but preventing disease can be tremendously more effective. Yes, I recognize for many people, this is obvious. We read about primary care daily in the newspaper and hear numerous debates by politicians advocating for better services, but this is the first time I have truly experienced the dramatic affects of inadequate preventative care. Many children would be spared the ravages of HIV and AIDS with better pre and post natal care. Brain disorders from meningitis would dramatically decline and skeletal deformities from polio could be eliminated with a comprehensive vaccine campaign. Twenty year-old, paralyzed men would not present to the hospital with pressure ulcers eating away their flesh and exposing internal organs.

Since I have been in the DRC, I have seen many diseases that could have been prevented with good primary care. It is not as glamorous as placing a breathing tube in to a child’s lungs, but tasks such as taking the time to teach a mother breastfeeding techniques or how to create a safe home environment may be the most valuable thing we can do as medical providers.


One Response to “What is our primary concern?”

  1. Claudette Says:

    I totally agree Chris. Taking time is the most important thing we can do in the profession of medical care. I get so sick and tired of people telling me how much money I am going to make being a nurse . I try to explain to them that the money is not satisfaction for me. The care and time that I give to people who are sick, allowing them to have extra months or years of life is satisfaction enough for me. The money is just a bonus. I know first hand how much a smile or even just spending extra time with a patient will make them feel better. The fact that you are helping make a difference by providing good primary care is more than valuable for those people.It is life changing and hopefully by you taking time for them will allow for a change to occur in the outcome of many lives.

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