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How To Find a Competent Physician

Susan Gammage | Jun 23, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Susan Gammage | Jun 23, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

The Baha’i teachings advise everyone to seek competent physicians when they’re ill — yet another reflection of the primary Baha’i principle of the agreement of science and religion.

Seeking the best medical care is a fundamental aspect of maintaining good health — and we all deserve to be as healthy as possible.

Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, recommended that when we get sick, we should consult competent physicians: “Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen …” 

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But sometimes, it’s hard to find a doctor who we can trust. So, given the complexity of modern medicine, how do we determine a physician’s competence? The Baha’i writings give us some clues:

1. The doctor should know the patient, as well as the disease and its remedies. In his book Some Answered Questions, Abdu’l-Baha suggested:

The physician must be fully aware and informed of all the parts and organs, the constitution and condition of the patient, in order to prescribe an effective remedy. Indeed, it is from the disease itself that the physician deduces the remedy, for he first diagnoses the ailment and then treats its underlying cause. Until the ailment is properly diagnosed, how can the treatment or remedy be prescribed? The physician must therefore have a thorough knowledge of the constitution, the parts, organs, and condition of the patient, and likewise be acquainted with every disease and every remedy, in order to prescribe the appropriate cure.

2. The Baha’i teachings emphasize the value of knowledge and education. 

When evaluating potential physicians, individuals should consider the doctor’s educational background, qualifications, and experience. Researching a physician’s credentials can help ensure that they are well-trained and competent.

My husband had glaucoma, and in the early stages, while it was being monitored, he had a retinal detachment. Unfortunately, the retinal surgeon prescribed medicine, which caused his glaucoma to activate, causing further vision loss. You’d think that diseases of the eye, such a small part of the body, would be understood by all the eye specialists, but this was not the case. The retinal specialist only understood the retina, and the glaucoma specialist only understood the disease of glaucoma, and neither consulted with the other. These were not competent physicians, no matter their credentials, by the above definition!

3. The Baha’i teachings place great importance on trustworthiness and ethical conduct. 

When choosing a physician, individuals should assess the doctor’s reputation for honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior. Reading reviews and seeking recommendations from trusted sources can provide some insight into a physician’s character.

4. Importantly, doctors should know the different remedies and medicines, as Abdu’l-Baha pointed out in Some Answered Questions:

A human being does not remain always in the same condition: Different ailments occur and each calls for a specific remedy. Thus an able physician does not treat all ailments in the same manner but varies the treatments and remedies in accordance with the requirements of these various ailments and conditions.

Unfortunately, in many material civilizations, much of the doctor’s knowledge of prescription drugs comes from pharmaceutical companies, who have their own agendas to promote, which aren’t always in the interest of each patient.  

5. The Baha’i teachings emphasize a holistic approach to well-being, recognizing the interconnectedness of physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Individuals should seek physicians who consider the whole person and promote well-rounded care.

Therefore, as Abdu’l-Baha counseled, doctors should know how to use both spiritual and material forms of healing:

O thou distinguished physician! … Praise be to God that thou hast two powers: one to undertake physical healing and the other spiritual healing. Matters related to man’s spirit have a great effect on his bodily condition. For instance, thou shouldst impart gladness to thy patient, give him comfort and joy, and bring him to ecstasy and exultation. How often hath it occurred that this hath caused early recovery. Therefore, treat thou the sick with both powers. Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments.

Your health belongs to you, and the treatment and cure of various illnesses must be specific to your needs. My most competent physician — a healer who used his own special blend of homeopathy, body work, astrology, talk therapy, breath work, mindfulness mediation, and radionics in his treatment — definitely advanced my own wellness under his wise counsel.   

So, in today’s culture, how do we find such a caring and competent person?  

Prayer and consultation are essential practices for Baha’is. When searching for a competent physician, we can start by praying for guidance and seeking divine assistance in making the right choice. Consultation with family members, friends, and trusted individuals in the medical field can also provide valuable insights.

The Baha’i teachings encourage individuals to seek multiple perspectives and consider different viewpoints. When faced with complex medical issues, individuals should not hesitate to seek second opinions from other competent physicians to ensure a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan.

RELATED: The Hidden Toll: Mental and Physical Health Effects of Racism

Selecting a competent physician is a critical decision that directly impacts one’s health and well-being. The Baha’i writings offer guidance on approaching this decision with prayer, consultation, a focus on knowledge and education, trustworthiness and ethics, a commitment to service, respect for diversity, seeking second (and even third) opinions, holistic well-being, and community support. By incorporating these principles of the independent investigation of truth into your search for a healthcare provider, you can make informed choices that align with the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and contribute to your overall well-being. 

In the spirit of the Baha’i emphasis on knowledge, unity, and service, many individuals have found competent physicians who prioritize their health and healing. I’m one of them, and I am grateful!

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