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Doctors around the world are often viewed as wise, knowledgable, figures of authority. A doctor’s opinion regarding a person’s health is usually accepted as the right one by most patients, hence the reason for most people’s frequent seeking of medical help in hospitals. But behind the white lab-coat and fancy educational background, usually stands a person just like everybody else, who sometimes makes decisions based on instinct and emotion rather than proper judgement, and who takes action without knowing all the possible outcomes. When judging a doctor from a professional perspective, one must remember that in general, a doctor’s main goal is to provide whatever means necessary in order to aid the patient and reduce greater risk to their health or life, while at the same time not letting emotion get in the way. Much like a computer engineer fixing a broken computer, a doctor fixes the problem that needs to be fixed, but cannot predict what the outcome might be, because there is always a possibility for an unexpected variable. In the two short stories: “The Use of Force” and “Indian Camp”, both plots tell of two doctors’ messy and bizzare encounter with a patient in need, and about the different distractions in the environment around them that have brought about the gruesome results. Both stories demonstrate how doctors, no matter how professional, need to make very fast decisions on the spot when operating. And despite the years of study and experience that they require, it is incorrect to assume that they always know what is the best decision for each case.
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Many examples in the story “The Use of Force” point to the fact that the doctor, who is also the narrator, is not the typical kind-hearted children doctor that most people would imagine. He came to a concerned family’s house to check whether their young daughter has the deadly disease Diphtheria. Throughout the story he displays an irritated and unmannerly behaviour towards the parents and even the helpless daughter. The procedure was supposed to be a very quick and easy one; simply to check the inside of the daughter’s throat for signs of the disease. But the circumstances in the room didn’t allow for this procedure to go as smoothly as expected. Instead, the doctor, who has had his glasses broken and his temper pushed to the limit, was forced to use aggression and power, only to result in more pain, agony, and fear for the daughter. By the end of the procedure, the doctor’s violent doings have led the hysterical girl’s mouth to bleed, but have also confirmed everyone’s big worry, that the daughter does in fact have the disease.
“Indian Camp” had a very different setting and mood, but follows a similar sequence of events. In here, the doctor brings his son and brother along to a native American camp, where a woman has been trying to give birth to her baby for nearly two days. The doctor was brought into the reserve in order to perform a Cesarean Section on the pregnant woman, who was in risk of losing her child’s or even her own life. In relation to the previous story, this doctor is not as impolite and impatiant with the rest of the group, and although using a painful method for the operation, he gets the baby out safely and quite smoothly. The plot then takes an unexpected turn when it is revealed that the pregnant woman’s husband has taken his own life shortly after the operation, for reasons that are not entirely clear.
Both stories are similar in that the two doctors’ primary goals were without a doubt achieved. In “The Use of Force” the doctor managed to get a positive diagnosis, and in ” Indian Camp” the baby was delivered with no harm to himself or his mother. The two doctors came from a different place to get a certain job done, and so they did. Their methods for doing so may be criticized as too harsh or improper, but the important thing to remember is that a doctor’s primary job is to complete the medical procedure necessary, and not to socialize or try to be kind towards the patient. These are things that depend on each individual doctor and their personality, and should not define the level of profession a doctor has. It is important not to misinterpret bad personality as poor work or lack of profession. The doctor in “The Use of Force” may have injured the young girl, but had done so only after confirming with the parents that it was purely their decision. “I explained the danger but said that i would not insist on a throat examination.” The doctor did what was really in the best interest of both the parents and the daughter, and that is to keep her safe. “Indian Camp” does not tell the reader whether a Cesarean Section was the only option and whether the mother even agreed. But here is where fast decision making comes in for the doctor, and based on how long the woman was in labor, it was probably the right choice. “Her screams are not important. I don’t hear them because they are not important.” The doctor explains to his son when asked why he did not use anesthetics to reduce the screaming woman’s pain. This sentence shows that the doctor is not affected by the hysteria that surrounds him, and knows that there is a job that needs to be done as soon as possible.
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Taking into consideration the two doctors’ reason for visit, it is evident that the job they were hired to do has been successfully completed to the most of their capabilities. Any medical procedure’s smoothness also largely depends on the amount of cooperation the patient gives. The mess that was brought as a result in both stories was not an outcome of the doctors’ wrongdoings, but were unexpected events that could not have been predicted. Each doctor has used the method they find most effective to complete their job, and succeeded.
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