Making the problem worse, as I mentioned earlier, was modern medicine’s enslavement by technology. Cardiologists can no longer commit to a diagnosis of a heart murmur without an echocardiogram. Neurologists can’t diagnose a stroke without a CAT scan. The old art of medicine—talking to patients, figuring out what’s wrong, and fixing it—had died. In the process, actually caring for patients had also died. The replacement? Robotic surgery, high-tech scanners, productivity quotas for doctors, and precious little time for patients. Health care in America was becoming “The Night of the Living Dead.”
Medishare had originally gone to Haiti to help the Haitian people. My first trip awoke me from my own zombie curse. It was becoming clearer and clearer to me that perhaps Haiti was helping me more than I was helping it. Perhaps experiences in places like Haiti could help some in my profession shake off the curse cast upon our profession. I had witnessed firsthand how touched our students were by the heartfelt “Mesi, ti dokte” they received from every patient after every service they performed. Medicine didn’t have to be robotic, “going through the motions,” or uncaring. There was more to being a medical student than passing exams and more to being a doctor than making money. If only our school of medicine would see it that way.
The story of Joseph does, however, end on a happy note. It took him three years, but perhaps to the surprise (and consternation) of the school’s administration, he completed all of the dean’s prerequisites for reinstatement. He graduated three years ago. I cheered wildly for him when the dean handed him his diploma. He is now completing his residency in the family medicine training program here at the University of Miami. It was Joseph’s Haitianess—the dogged determination to climb one mountain after another until he reached his goal—that saved his career. If Sisyphus had been Haitian, he would have gotten that rock over the hill.