Research Scholar in Psychology, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore
Black belt over white coat
Common men have begun to attack professionals. Divine aura surrounding the professionals is melting down. Times of India (daily) reports that AIIMS doctors are going to get self- defense training. Doctor in white coat has to secure a black belt in karate to ensure his professional security.
The patient entering into the doctor’s cabin seeking service is getting a new tag--- likely to be violent at any time. Along with his disease the patient (or his attendant) might be carrying elements of violence. The doctor might be attacked at any time. Attention…!!
Inside the doctor’s cabin anytime attack from the patient must be defended by martial tactics of the doctor. When anticipation of an attack is in the air it nullifies possibilities for building up a rapport. As the doctor is always in defensive mood his empathy is not likely to flow as expected. The incompatible emotions --compassion and fear ---choke doctor’s awareness of a life throbbing in the patient. Doctor separates the disease from the patient and treats the disease avoiding the patient.
Yoga for teachers
Teachers too are in a defensive mood. Any student can file case against any teacher at any time. Any sort of corporal punishment or mental harassment or any practice that are likely to induce stress in students can put the teacher in the dock.
In the classroom, a teacher is more or less in defensive mode. She practices mentally supportive martial arts—like yoga for this. As yoga philosophy advocates, she creates a comfortable “detachment” with students. She creates a lotus like posture in mind. And just like lotus leaves do not allow drops of water to cling to it, she too doesn’t allow anything from the student world to glue to her mind. With the ever decreasing autonomy, she is becoming more or less a spectator, witnessing everything in yogic sense of equanimity.
As students are not advised to “see their teachers as gods” as advocated by ancient Indian philosophy, teachers have to defend themselves from being docked. So teacher punishes less and less and smiles more and more. She is reluctant to enter into a particular student and explore him, but somehow keeps herself in receptive mode when approached by needy students. Misbehavior from students is seen through the grid of rules and regulations provided beforehand. Spontaneous emotional interplay arising from a cordial rapport between the student and teacher gives way to predetermined ways of interacting with students. Spontaneity in teacher student relationship is dying.
Doctor, you are no more a secret
In the modern world, the person at the receiving end of a professional service is in a better position to sense negligence and detect lenience in professional hands. The common man of modern technological era has clear answers to what a professional is meant for and in what way he/she is expected to discharge his/her duty. The mystic aura surrounding the professional service can never be maintained in the time of internet and knowledge explosion. There can no longer be any professional secrecy to defend professionals.
A common man can verify the authenticity of the diagnosis and the accuracy of medicines prescribed by the doctor just by a click on the mouse of his desktop or laptop. Doctors’ world is open to anybody. Anybody can amass standards to assess the service of a doctor and raise his voice against negligence in the service extended to him and come out with evidences that validate a legal inquiry into it.
But, if negligence from a professional hands result in death, the common man cannot wait for a legal route to calm his sense of loss and grief. He must attack the cause to quench his grief. In this juncture professional doctor’s social skills can protect himself from being attacked. The doctor must be able to communicate in common man’s language what has caused death in case it is not his negligence. For this, a doctor must be trained in social-emotional skills for this. No amount of martial training is needed for this.
Teacher, you are no more intangible
Common men spot, negligence in teaching professional mainly through comparison. To determine whether a particular teacher is loyal to his daughter or son a common man need not master any pedagogical skills. He can just compare the teaching practices in a bunch of schools in his locality. Whether certain practice in the classroom is justifiable can be assessed just by observing schools within his reach. Proliferation of educational institutions has made this task of comparison so easy and even sitting in the home a parent can clarify whether his/her ward is getting their due in educational institutions.
Electronic era has empowered parent world in such a way that each parent is in a position to detect even traces of negligence a teacher commits. No wonder that teachers are losing their God like mystical aura. Right to information act is for those who set out for legal route and attempt for a corrective measure. And nowadays a lot many laymen are relying on RTI.
In this juncture teachers have no option but commit themselves to excellence and explore novel ways of executing their professional duties. Here also those who stick to outdated ways and show resistance to change are more likely to be attacked by common men whose expectations come into conflict with what a teacher can offer as a professional.
Why they attack?
Failure to fulfill expectations: Physical assault towards professionals arises when a professional fails to come up to the expectations of common men. Though it is difficult to cater to unrealistic expectations, professionals must go into the reasons that create unrealistic expectations of common men. Every common man at the receiving end of a professional service longs for apt excellent service in return for their paid money.
A single case of negligence is enough: Professionals are viewed as community by common man. According to him, professionals are of a different breed. “Fidelity” that the common man has bestowed upon professionals is like religious beliefs. Single scientific evidence is enough to destroy many blind religious beliefs. Just like the Sun and Moon lost their god status when the science dawned upon common men, one or two negligence takes away the fidelity in the infallible dedication of professionals towards society. Divinity attributed to their professional call shatter into pieces. Any pronounced negligence by one professional is viewed by the common men as permeating into the behavior of the entire professional community.
Low tolerance for uncertainty: Every common man is well aware of the subjective nature of professional service like teaching and health care. And they know that success of service not wholly lies in the provider of the service. Still, they unleash attack on the professionals just because their willingness to comply with uncertainty has reduced considerably.
Lack of fidelity lowers tolerance for uncertainty and there is an increased chance for attributing fatal outcomes of professional service to the negligence of the professional. In June, times of India daily reported that health care errors are the 8th leading cause of death in the world and 61% of doctors have been sued at the fag end of their career. Reading this report, how can a patient enter into the operation theatre entrusting his breath in the doctor’s hands?. When the patient is declared as “no more” near and dear ones agitate with paranoiac thoughts and the possible negligence of the doctor will be one of the causes they attribute as the reasons for the death. And some act upon it. This outburst manifests as a direct attack on the doctor.
Some doctors are not doctors some teachers are not teachers: In the modern world all doctors do not deserve to be doctors. Two streams of professionals are there. Merit and money are the two pathways to become a professional. Common man’s awareness is not oblivious to this fact. He is in a position to compare who really deserves to be addressed as a doctor.
What differentiates a teacher who began her career with the money she handed over to the school manager from those whose merit made them teachers? Though common man is not able to articulate this difference in academic terms, when the said difference pronounce it through negligence or dereliction of duty in teaching the common man will question the professional dignity attributed to the teaching community. Remember, this is a country where teachers are being fired on charges of child abuse (including sexual). As mentioned above the entire teaching community will bear its brunt as inevitable erosion of trust in professional service is the end result.
In health care service there arises disgust against doctor community and “never trust the diagnosis of the first doctor” is the norm. Consulting at least three doctors before entering into treatment is becoming a usual practice at least among people belonging to better socioeconomic groups.
The way out
· Reinstate the lost professional dignity by committing to the core professional values.
· Establish professional excellence by committing to personal growth and keeping abreast with social changes and demands.
· Regain accountability by adhering to objective standards and norms of meritocracy in recruiting professionals.
· Train professionals in social-emotional skills rather than martial arts to deal with unrealistic expectations of common men.
Research Scholar in Psychology, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore