Years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a few hundred Grade 11 and 12 students from across Regina, all of whom were interested in becoming health-care professionals, and one of them asked me why I chose to be a doctor. “Sometimes I am able to save a life,” I answered, “sometimes I relieve suffering, but what draws me to this work is the privilege of accompanying a person on what is often the worst day of their life.” My daughter, high-school-aged at the time, was somewhere in the audience, near the back of the room. She has gone on to graduate from medical school and join me as a physician. I owe it to her to weigh in on some of the most important and difficult moral and ethical issues that affect our profession.
As a healthcare provider, I am drawn by the principles that my job upholds: a reverence for life and concern for the good of the person. But increasingly, the cultural values that have historically affirmed the value of life are being subjugated to newer North American cultural values that permit an individual to choose their own death, or even the death of someone else. The rights of choice are increasingly imposed as duties of service upon a medical profession that has traditionally rejected death as a therapeutic option. I want to help work through these issues, so the duty to provide death as a treatment option will not be forced on my daughter and her generation of physicians.
David Kopriva MDCM, FRCS(C)
Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Saskatchewan
Residents and Doctors in this province have been challenged in many ways over the last few years. Asking us to act against our conscience is something I have personally seen and contributes to poor outcomes for all involved. I know that provincial legislation that protects conscience rights for healthcare professionals would not only encourage myself and like-minded doctors to stay and work in Saskatchewan but it would be instrumental to patient care in this province.
Saskatchewan Medical Resident
- Anonymity requested