Graduation address to new medical doctors
Every new doctor needs to read this, and more importantly, every person thinking of going into medicine.
Congratulations to all of you as new doctors of medicine. It has been a long and hard journey, much longer than nearly every other degree you could have chosen. Even after your graduation today, you still have a year or two of internship, and perhaps years of specialisation if you so choose.
You were among the brightest, most intelligent school leavers. Those of you who started medicine as mature-age students passed all the tests, and showed special resolve to do a long course when your compatriots were settled into their careers. You have shown determination and self-discipline, and endured many late nights (and early mornings) to get to where you are now. In addition, you have somehow paid for the cost of these years of study, both in monetary terms and in terms of other opportunities forfeited.
Some of you entered medicine out of a deep longing to help your fellow human beings, coupled with an aptitude for, and interest in the workings of the human body. If this is what you really want to be doing; if you wake up excited by the prospects of your day's work; if you relish the opportunity to discover what really works and what does not; then I wish you every success and wish you well from the bottom of my heart.
Of course, there are many other perks that come with your graduation today. The excitement and prestige of being called doctor, though that will probably wear off quite quickly. The feeling that you are of value to your community, and that you have a real need to fill. The range of opportunities before you, specialising in your chosen field, working in a place of special need, or starting to build your own reputation.
In America, Australia, Western Europe and other rich countries, you will be among the elite when it comes to the money that you will be paid. On the one hand, your earnings will reflect all the hard work you have done to get here, and the costs of the many years of your studies. But you will be paid more than that. There are millions of other graduates and post-graduates around the world today who will never earn anything like you will as a medical doctor. You are being paid an additional premium because you are about to become a member of an exclusive club.
This club is your medical registration board. Membership is strictly limited. Years of study and many examinations and assessments are required for entry. Your devotion to the cause and your loyalty must be unquestioned. You must play by the rules, keep the club exclusive and above all, keep it profitable.
The most exclusive privilege your club will grant you is the right to dispense patented medicines. This is where the money comes from. This is where the power and control lie. This is the key.
Your medical association ensures that it is illegal for non-members to hold or prescribe registered pharmaceuticals, and for good reason. If anyone could make and sell them, their price would fall to the same level as other over-the-counter medicines.
The main reason that only doctors may prescribe pharmaceutical drugs is that they are toxic and harmful, and have nasty or fatal side-effects. Your years of training and experience will hopefully ensure that any benefits from prescribing your patients their drugs will outweigh the harm the drugs do.
Don't worry; your club will do absolutely everything that it can to keep these medicines exclusive, desired and expensive. Your club has extraordinary power, reach and influence. It is one of the richest clubs in the world. It owns the decision makers in the government and the faculties in university medical schools. The boards of every big pharmaceutical company in the Western world are members. All the traditional media - television, major newspapers, websites, radio and magazines are compliant.
It doesn't matter that a patented pharmaceutical drug is not the best remedy for a particular ailment, or that it has horrible or deadly side-effects. Your club will do absolutely everything that it can to hide the alternatives, discredit them, and even outlaw them. Perhaps you noticed during your years of study that you used few (if any) natural, un-patented, or non-pharmaceutical medicines?
Hopefully the reason will now be clear. Pharmaceutical products that cause harm need careful, experienced and registered dispensation. On the other hand, natural, traditional, and easily-available home remedies that have no side-effects are a disaster for your club's exclusivity and profitability.
This is why non-pharmaceutical remedies were kept hidden from you during your years of medical training. This is why you only spent a couple of days during all those years looking at the effects of food as a medicine. This is why so much of your time revolved around drugs and set procedures. This is why you were given no freedom to look at all the simple, healthy alternatives.
This is why your medical registration board will be watching you very carefully for the rest of your professional life. You must keep prescribing the recommended pharmaceutical products for every ailment that presents before you, or your membership of the club will be in jeopardy.
So keep an open door for the pharmaceutical reps who will regularly visit you. They will give you samples, literature, and attendance at free or subsidised conferences that will comprise the core of your professional development, if you let them. Above all else, their goal is to look after the profitability of the industry, and to reward you, the crucial and exclusive experts with the power to dispense such carefully-guarded products.
To close, I wish you well in your new careers as doctors. You face many disruptive changes such as computerised diagnostics and medicine; smarter patients who have investigated their ailments before presenting to you; and pharmacists, registered nurses, naturopaths and other alternative medicine professionals who will be nipping at your heels. But as long as you remain a dedicated and obedient member of the club, you will be richly rewarded.
David Niven Miller.