What If No One Wanted to Be a Doctor?

A thought experiment: What if literally no one — not you, not anyone — had any desire whatsoever to be a doctor, nurse, emergency medical technician, or any other healthcare worker?

Imagine, for the purpose of this thought experiment, that no one had any interest in anatomy, physiology, or the like; and no one studied fields like radiology, oncology, pharmacology, or whatnot; such that the entire medical profession was unknown and therefore unavailable.

Then, under those conditions, you get sick or injured.

How would you obtain care? Upon whom would you rely?

If you were alone, you would have to treat yourself as best you could; or, even if you weren’t alone you could make the attempt if your symptoms or wounds were slight. Maybe you remember some First Aid from the Boy Scout Handbook, or some folk remedies from one of the Foxfire books, or maybe your parents “doctored” you when you were young and you recall what they did. (In this modern era, you might even try to pull up a YouTube video in hopes that someone had documented their own ordeal.)

If that failed, or your case was beyond your (or the Net’s) abilities, you would¬†likely try to find someone else to help you. You might first ask someone you know, who you know cares about you, to treat you as best they can. If they couldn’t help, you would have to venture further afield and ask someone outside your immediate circle if they might deign to treat you.

Does that sound about right?

How would you ask them? What would you offer in exchange for their trying to help you? Would you promise? Would you plead? Would you threaten?

Doctor
(Image: “Doctor,” by Matt Madd, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

If asking didn’t get you the help you sought, would you demand it? Would you — could you — force someone to help you? Would you recruit others to do so? How far would you go, if you had the power?

Thankfully, we don’t live in the world of this thought experiment. We can be grateful that so many people choose the caring professions and study the medical sciences, so that we don’t have to treat ourselves when we’re in distress.

Their numbers, alas, are relatively small; and whenever limited supply meets significant demand, economics can deal heavy blows with its invisible hand. But even though their numbers are small, their impacts are tremendous. How we show our gratitude for their knowledge, skill, and dedication, of course, is up to us.

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Apropos of nothing, other than the fact that this is my blog: If you missed the announcement, I’m running a series of giveaways for Audible downloads of the Walking on the Sea of Clouds audiobook, which includes what I’ve been told are rather realistic emergency response and medical scenes.¬†Sign up at this link!

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