Doctors’ Day???

It’s the time of the year when we celebrate Nurses’ Day again. And the President will give out the much anticipated President’s Nurse Awards to several nursing leaders each year on Nurses Day. In every hospital in Singapore there will much revelry and gaiety. Hospital administrators and doctors alike will have to demonstrate their affection for the nurses in some way or the other. These include serving food, singing a song or maybe swallowing a live cockroach (especially if Nurses Day falls near a JCI audit). Huge bouquets of flowers will be sent between each and every hospital. I have seen a hospital give out one stalk of rose to each and every nurse. This is no mean feat as some large hospitals have more than a thousand nurses.


Naturally, this begs the all important question, what on earth is the male nurse going to do with all the flowers and bouquets.? Instead of roses for male nurses, can we just give the guy a can of beer? Just kidding.


I don’t know, call me skeptical, my take is all this fanfare and gushing of goodwill on this one day every year is but an annual short-acting anaesthetic to the fact that nurses are still underpaid and overworked in the other 364 days. Of course, seeing Prof Chee Yam Cheng playing the piano may be balm that lasts more than a day but that is only once-off for TTSH.


So we have Nurses Day. We also have others like Teachers Day, SAF Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Children’s Day, Youth Day, and maybe in the near future Harry Potter Day and Flood Day. This Hobbit thinks we should also have a Doctor’s Day. I hope respectfully the newly Elected President will take up my humble suggestion.


The reason for having a Doctor’s Day is obvious. It is to remind everyone that some doctors think they can make miracles and cure every father-mother-son like Harry, talk like teachers, behave like children, work like nurses, dress like youth and of course earn money like a tropical rainstorm flood.


What can we actually do to celebrate Doctors’ Day?


First, we can conduct an Unlucky Draw whereby the unlucky winner gets to be CMB for one day to see and understand actually how sucky a life of CMB is. The winner will get to sit in the CMB’s office for one day. In the morning, he will hear non-stop different doctors coming into his office to complain about poor pay, promotional prospects, lousy patients and the residency programme. In the afternoon, he can then try to feedback to the higher authorities his problems and of course the unlucky winner will either get no response or be criticized as being “not progressive”. Finally at 5pm, there will be a simulated incident whereby one of his heads of department comes in to hand in his resignation letter. Lunch is not provided, but his personal assistant for one day can buy a kopi and red bean bun from the hospital canteen for this unlucky winner (at the winner’s expense). If we are really going to have serious fun, we can even get this guy to give a talk to 200 doctors in the auditorium on why JCI audits and residency ACGME accreditation are necessary.



And then we can also have Singapore Doctor Idol where folks show off their talent. Possible items on show could include


  • A GP trying to do a liposuction on a guy with a BMI of 23
  • A residency program director trying to explain why his department fulfills ACGME’s requirements even when obviously everybody is working 101% everyday trying to clear the patient loads
  • A foreign trained surgeon who only speaks English trying to take informed consent in accordance with SMC’s standards (warning – long performance hours lasting >2hours)
  • Two very senior surgeons meeting after 30 years and dancing the tango till midnight


Next, similar to nurses, we can of course also have the President’s Award given to outstanding doctors for their outstanding contribution to medicine and health. Immediately, at least three possible candidates for the award come to mind:


  • The doctors on the disciplinary committee that set new standards for informed consent, specifically for purportedly running hearings from 2pm to 2am on a few days and on one occasion to 4am and for deciding that obtaining consent in a suboptimal place is a critical factor in deciding what is professional misconduct. Such dedication and prowess cannot be ignored, including the great ability to give and hear sound testimony, think clearly and decide fairly at around 2 to 4am. It is interesting to note that while most resident housemen (PGY-1) cannot work past midnight but DC can run till 4am, bearing in mind folks have been working since the morning (of the previous day). This hobbit stands in awe of the stamina and incisive thinking being displayed…


  • The doctor that was rumoured to have paid ~$6,000 per square feet for clinic space also deserves an award. After all, he has gone where no man has gone before and has showed that clinic space prices have joined the realm of other gravity-defying manifestations such as COE, Superman and push-up bras.


  • Finally, we should give the President’s Award to the doctor who decided Singapore should adopt the ACGME Residency system. He symbolizes what a great leader is all about, a man/woman who dares to go it alone, without prior consultation with the professional bodies/stakeholders and goes for a vision that many think is impossible to achieve. This sheer improbability and audacity of thought ranks up there with Singapore in World Cup – Goal 2010 vision, Mao Tse Tung’s Great Leap Forward and Dr Evil’s plan for world conquest in Austin Powers movies parts 1, 2 and 3.


And of course, as part of the pomp and pageantry of the Presidential Awards for outstanding doctors, we must get Chee Yam Cheng to play the piano again at the award-giving ceremony.

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