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  Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 92

Comment on “A glass of water”

Family Physician, No.1056, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication4-Apr-2019

Correspondence Address:
B C Rao
Family Physician, No.1056, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_127_19

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How to cite this article:
Rao B C. Comment on “A glass of water”. Indian J Cancer 2019;56:92

How to cite this URL:
Rao B C. Comment on “A glass of water”. Indian J Cancer [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Jul 6];56:92. Available from:

“You will become a good doctor someday”

“Cure sometimes, treat often, and comfort always!”

“A good physician treats the disease; a great physician treats the patient who has disease”

These are three quotes I have taken from the real-life experience narrated by Dr. Chauhan.[1]

Most of us become good doctors as we progress in our profession, if we have the right attitude. The very sick Mr. SN realized that doctor is after all not such a bad doctor when he was given that much needed glass of water. He did not say “you are a great doctor” but said, “you will become one someday.”

Many of us when we enter medical school harbor high ideals of service, compassion, helping the sick and needy and other similar ideals. During the many years of grueling training, these take a back seat and are replaced by the ambition to become somebody, earn reputation and money, and climb the social and professional ladder. Patients and their ailments become steps in this direction. In the bargain, many of us ignore health, sleep, exercise, family, friends, and other interests. Real happiness becomes a casualty and quality of life suffers in this pursuit.

Focusing on the management of disease becomes more important than handling the human being with the illness. This is particularly so when one climbs the ladder of specialization. When one is stressed with work, especially the work as described by the doctor who is a plastic surgeon working in a hospital, where one must be seeing very many seriously ill patients, one is in danger of becoming inured to suffering.

One major complaint many patients have is that we are not concerned about them. One hears patients stating, “he did not even place the stethoscope on my chest” or “he did not even ask me why I am there” or “he just looked at my reports and wrote out a prescription.” Often, we take our patients for granted and do not think that their concerns are of great importance, as we already know what is wrong and what to do. But patients have many worries and concerns and want to share these with us. It is our duty to listen to them even if these do not always make sense to us.

We sometimes forget that in their own field of endeavor, they are more accomplished and they are here at the receiving end, not out of choice but because there is no other way. When we seek help from other professionals, say an engineer or an accountant, don't we expect courteous interaction? We, more than in any other profession, need to be better at human relationships because we are dealing with the suffering.

If one removes the relationship between us and our patients, we become mechanical robots---often very efficient ones---as many of us must have become. This is the death knell of our profession. Relationship, whether transient or prolonged, is the foundation of satisfaction for both doctors and patients. As aptly described by the author, the act of giving a glass of water triggered the development of this relationship and made the author progress towards becoming a “good” doctor.

This relationship is not just with the patient but also with his/her family, relatives, and other well-wishers. It is not merely medical, it is also social and psychological. Can one have a relationship without getting affected? The answer is no. Involving oneself with the social and psychological aspects of a patient's illness can be distressing. However, one needs to participate and be a part of patients' worries, concerns, and not infrequently, their joys.

We, more than in any other profession, have this unique opportunity to become better human beings if we learn to treat patients as persons and not a collection of organs. There is also a possibility of being healed ourselves.[2],[3]

  References Top

Chauhan N. A glass of water. Indian J Cancer 2019;56:89-91.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
Rao BC, Prasad R. Principles of family medicine practice: Lessons gleaned over a lifetime in practice. J Family Med Prim Care 2018;7:303-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Yawar A. The doctor as human being. J R Soc Med 2005;98:215-7.  Back to cited text no. 3


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