When I was a child, whenever my mother took me to the hospital to see a doctor and I saw all the doctors and nurses in their white gowns scurrying around, I always thought that they looked like angels in white. I was full of admiration for them, and I used to think: If I could be an angel in white too when I grow up, that would be so great! As a young adult, my school grades were exceptionally good and I was able to pass the entrance exam for medical college, and eventually my heartfelt wish came true when I was sent to a certain city hospital to begin my career as a doctor. You can’t imagine how happy I was on the first day that I put on a white gown! The professional duty of doctors is to cure illness and prevent death, and that makes the profession highly respected, lofty! I was determined to live up to the nickname, angels in white, by being a totally responsible and professional doctor committed to relieving the suffering of my patients.
My Dream Begins to Crack
Following the trend of China’s reform and opening up, my hospital enthusiastically responded to the central government’s slogan “It doesn’t matter if the cat’s black or white as long as it catches rats.” The old system of jobs for life on fixed salaries was done away with, and everything became performance related. I worked in the hospital clinics and the hospital set a quota for the number of patients that we clinic doctors had to transfer to the hospital wards. For every patient short of the quota we were fined RMB 50. When I first learned of this I got very angry. I thought: So even if there is nothing seriously wrong with the patient, we must still send them to the wards? Isn’t this a kind of fraud? It’s completely heartless. Continue reading