If I ever become a physician, then it will always be because of Professor Bhatt. Whenever I want to tell a story of passion, he always comes to mind. He represents an ideal physician, the typical physician that Hippocrates had in mind when he wrote the oath of our profession. He is one of the oldest in his department. One would expect him to be tired after years of practice but that is not the case, he walks upright, his teeth are intact and he is still as vibrant as he ever was. The wine gets better with age, the professor becomes classic with the passing of the years.
Professor Bhatt is of Indian descent. He claims Kenya is home. He understands Swahili very well and speaks it way better than any mswahili that I know. He understands kikuyu too and even luo. Often times he would say Jaduong abirochwadi matek in a weird accent to mean he will cane you hard. You know when you speak luo with an Indian accent, it does not sound as sweet, actually one would think he speaks one of the native Indian languages.
When you find professor in your clinical exams you are screwed. But you are even more disadvantaged if you find the other professor from my village, Prof CFO. Let me start with the professor from my village who having left the village, sunk deeply into medicine and nothing else but medicine. He knows the hydrazine ring of isoniazid, a drug used in TB treatment, and he expects you to know it too, too bad for a clinical exam, right? Then if you think that is hard,try this, do you know the circum-oval proteins of the eggs of Schistosoma? Well, I also don’t know. Professor Bhatt will approach the situation on the extreme end of the spectrum. He believes common things occur commonly. When a spotted animal crosses your path as you are walking, it is more likely to be a cat than a cheetah. this is entirely true but that is where he catches you, he will ask a simple question and expects you to list your answers in order of how common they occur. And that alone will shift you off your balance.
Ward 8D is always the place to be. Professor Bhatt brings along the enthusiasm of a young man and the wisdom of an old man. This sets him apart from the rest of the consultants. I always stand right next to him during the ward round for two reasons. The first one is obvious, I always want to get the best out of his ward rounds without missing a thing. The second reason is to hold the professor when he is about to fall, some of the answers we give to his questions almost always make him fall, so I hold him.
The patients love him in equal measure. Some of the patients would not go home until the professor discharges them by himself. In the rounds, the patients look up to him with great admiration. They see a man who practices medicine as if it were a craft, they see an artist and his art. He would greet the patients and ask them how they have been and how they are doing. The patients would always warm up with a smile and say all is well even if they were in great pain. The terminally ill patients in our ward are kept alive by Professor’s smile and nobility. If there is nothing else to look up to in life, they always look up to Prof’s rounds.
The nurses too bear witness that Professor’s passion borders on obsession. He works with everybody and collectively, patients get the best of care. He always emphasizes on clinical acumen as the most important tool for a doctor in resource malnourished areas such as our setting. Under professor’s leadership, everyone feels obliged to do what is right and to play their part in patient care.
Professor Bhatt has made me love medicine. He has reminded me that medicine is an enduring art passed from generation to generation with utmost fidelity. Above all he has brought to my attention that curing is not always the main aim of medicine, healing is. This is someone who has beheld the ‘gods’ of medicine and the ‘gods’ have found a way of loving him back. So tonight I renew my vows with medicine…’ I swear by Apolo…to be true to you, to love and cherish you always…’