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Mini-interviews with the doctors

Associate Professor Dr Jan Kábrt, Csc.

Internal medicine, head physician at the Health Plus Program

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

My desire to study medicine was greatly influenced by my father. He taught Latin at secondary schools and later also at the 1st Medical Faculty at Charles University, but all his life he wanted to be a doctor. Initially, I wanted to study the natural sciences, but then I fulfilled his dream by studying medicine.

What is the most important thing about this profession for you?

Some of my older colleagues, whom I still admire, have undoubtedly contributed to my recognition of the values of the performance of the medical profession. In the period after my graduation, it was Professor Vratislav Schreiber, an experimental endocrinologist, under whom I did my dissertation. He fascinated me with his self-discipline and the incredible perseverance, with which he endeavoured to timelessly resolve the scientific problems of his age. Another was Professor Josef Marek, probably the best-known living Czech endocrinologist, from whose example I fully understood that clinical medicine is essentially a service for ill people. Coincidentally, we have busts of both professors here at the Health Plus Program.

How do you cope with an illness, whenever you have one? How do you treat yourself?

I am aware of the fact that the older I get, the greater the risk of an illness occurring. I have the same tests done as our clients at the Health Plus Program, including preventative genetic tests. I am in a similar position to that of my patients who come to the doctor and just like them I often await the test results with some trepidation.

In your opinion, what is the best way of preserving good physical and mental health up to an advanced age? 

Our society is aging quickly and there are currently 117 senior citizens over 65 for every 100 children in the Czech Republic. If this trend continues, it is possible that in 2060 there will be 260 senior citizens for every 100 children. Such a society is economically unsustainable. As well as increasing the birth rate, it is necessary for older people to stay in good shape. I view the epidemic of obesity in our population associated with overeating and physical inactivity as a huge problem. It is necessary for older people to play sport regularly. Our society is also too tolerant towards smokers and smoking, which is something I would essentially limit.

In your opinion, what should ideal healthcare look like?

Despite the enormous progress in medicine in recent decades, one problem has been on the increase, namely the excessive dilution (pulverisation) of healthcare. Often, there is no overall (holistic) view of the patient and his or her health problems. I am of the opinion that it is important to continue in the development of specialist, often highly technical medical fields, but at the same time to respect the benefits and values of the work of a single attending physician. This doctor can be in contact with the patient over the long term and know all of the patient’s test results, including the patient’s family background. Unfortunately, the numbers of these doctors are falling significantly and in other countries, for example England, there is not even much interest in working as a GP (general practitioner).

Dr Hana Sýkorová,

An internist

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

I cannot say that I am one of those people who always knew that they only wanted to be a doctor. During my studies, I was more interested in the natural sciences. As such, medicine was one of the alternatives when I was deciding about which university to attend. However, I have never regretted my decision. But I have to admit that I did also consider studying veterinary medicine.

What is the most important thing about this profession for you?

Working with people and the feeling that my profession is meaningful. That I am able to help people to varying degrees. But I think that this can be said about many professions, if one tries to do one’s work well.

How do you cope with an illness, whenever you have one? How do you treat yourself?

If it is nothing serious, then paradoxically I avoid doctors and medicines. I am quite an undisciplined patient. If there is the suspicion of a more serious illness, I am probably like every health professional and I see an almost fatal disease behind everything.

In your opinion, what is the best way of preserving good physical and mental health up to an advanced age?

That is “simple”: try to actively maintain your physical and mental health. I have seen that, if people remain vigorous throughout their whole life, they spend their lives actively and face life optimistically, then they usually enjoy better physical and mental health and cope much better with illnesses and aging.

In your opinion, what should ideal healthcare look like?

The specialist qualifications of the healthcare personnel, doctors and nurses are particularly in first place. Nevertheless, patients often miss the “human approach”, even though they are aware that they are being treated expertly and correctly. They miss having a doctor who is not pressed for time and who can explain to them the essence of their illness and the possible alternative treatments in a friendly manner and in detail. So that the doctors and sisters simplify the examination and treatment procedure for them. And that is precisely what we all try to do in the Health Plus Program.

Dr Kateřina Bičíková,

Head physician – internal medicine, pulmonology

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

My parents came up with it when I graduated from secondary school at 17. I wanted to study exact science, but at that time and later too it was not possible to do anything with it … So I didn’t make the decision by myself.

What is the most important thing about this profession for you?

To get the patient to fight.

How do you cope with an illness, whenever you have one? How do you treat yourself?

I don’t cope, I curse.

In your opinion, what is the best way of preserving good physical and mental health up to an advanced age?  

If possible, do something entertaining for both your head and your body every day and drink 2 or 3 decilitres of good wine.

In your opinion, what should ideal healthcare look like?

Prevention – see my previous answer.

Dr Marie Rašková,

ENT

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

I experienced the healthcare sector in my family and I have always liked the hospital environment. I decided to study as a medical laboratory technician at a healthcare secondary school. In Hradec Králové, I then went on to assist at the neurosurgery clinic, where there were a number of interesting patients, doctors and nurses. It was towards the end of my course that I subsequently decided to continue my studies at the medical faculty.

What is the most important thing about this profession for you?

Concentrating on the difficulties which patients come to see me with. I always try to explain all of the possible treatments to my patients and sometimes unfortunately to tell them that there are limited options or unpleasant side effects. At the same time, however, I also explain that we will always try to do the best that is in our power under all circumstances.

In your opinion, what should ideal healthcare look like?

Ideal medical care is in the hands of the doctor, practitioner or personal physician who monitors the patient over the long term, knows his or her state of health, carries out the preventative examinations and sends the patient to see specialists after careful consideration. A personal physician should collect together the results of all the specialist tests and know about any treatment proposed by the specialist.

Dr Lucia Mansfeldová,

Dermatology

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

I have wanted to cure organisms ever since my childhood, initially as a vet and later as a paediatrician. I decided in favour of dermatology during a study trip to Spain. It was there that I first saw that dermatology also involves surgical operations and I enjoyed that. I liked the fact that this involves a complex field where the doctor makes diagnoses, treats and operates and uses lasers. The advantage is that you can treat all age groups, women and men. It is a very varied and interesting field.

What is the most important thing about this profession for you?

From my point of view, the most important thing is to preserve a human approach to patients, to carefully listen to them and to be helpful and empathetic. The maintenance of documentation is, of course, important, but papers and computers should not force out mutual communication. A kind word and a smile also have a curative effect.

How do you cope with an illness, whenever you have one? How do you treat yourself?

It is true that health professionals sometimes ignore illnesses or that they rely on some kind of “fast cure”. I admit that unfortunately this is sometimes also my case. If patients have made an appointment a long time in advance, it is unpleasant to cancel it. But I am only talking about a slight cold. If I have a fever or a more serious illness, I try to be a disciplined patient. It is not worth underestimating it.

In your opinion, what is the best way of preserving good physical and mental health up to an advanced age?

In order to preserve a good quality of life, we should learn to correctly divide our time between work and rest and get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet and spend time outdoors. It is also important to find a kind of internal satisfaction with life, to appreciate the little things, to try to think positively and to surround ourselves with people whom we like.

In your opinion, what should ideal healthcare look like?

The ideal is a qualified, experienced and pleasant healthcare staff, high quality medical equipment, good work organisation and a nice environment where patients do not feel stressed. A great advantage at the Health Plus Program lies in the excellent interdisciplinary cooperation which significantly accelerates the diagnosis and enables the correct therapy to be applied.

Dr Ivan Ročárek,

Gynaecology

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

I decided to become a doctor because of the combination of biology, chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics which is not only interesting as the sum of the natural sciences, but also as a complex of the knowledge which can influence the state of human health. I long vacillated between the natural sciences and medicine, but in the end my curiosity and desire to “give it a go” won out …

What is the most important thing about this profession for you?

It is difficult to say what the most important thing about this profession is – it is definitely a question of age, experience, the work environment etc.. I was impressed by the definite difficulty of this profession, which cannot be represented merely by a white coat, but also by the combination of knowledge and practical experience, which not everybody is able to do. The apolitical nature of this profession also plays a role.

How do you cope with an illness, whenever you have one? How do you treat yourself?

I am a typically bad patient, I try not to think about illnesses and to just live through them. I have the feeling that the situation is similar with most of my colleagues. Thanks to my education, I am a self-treater, but I occasionally take advice from my colleagues. But I hardly ever go to see them as a patient.

In your opinion, what is the best way of preserving good physical and mental health up to an advanced age? 

It is very hard to say how to preserve good physical and mental health up to an advanced age – fashion magazines hurl out many pieces of advice on how to achieve this. I personally think that genetics, the influence of one’s environs and one’s willingness to work on oneself play a significant role in this – it is important to be physically and mentally active, not to isolate yourself from your environs and to positively react to new impulses, even if they are sometimes uncomfortable and seemingly even unnecessary.

In your opinion, what should ideal healthcare look like?

I have yet to speak with anyone, either in the Czech Republic or abroad, who considers the healthcare system to be ideal. Everybody wants this system to be cheap, preferably free, highly effective, without any unnecessary waiting and administration, at the highest possible expert level and with minimum discomfort for the patient. This is probably not achievable in the standard way, but models exist which come close: I am thinking, for example, of the Nordic states, but even there medical care is also the target of criticism. I consider the quality of the medical care in our country to be adequate. However, personally I have always disliked the growth in fruitless administration which prevents human contact with the patient and is only a burden for the medical staff.