A Master Physician to All the People
This term means a great physician held in high esteem by everyone, a good doctor for all the people. This is the ideal image of a physician as described by the famous Tang Dynasty physician Sun Simiao (581-682) in his Essential Formulas for Emergencies. “All the people” refers mainly to the general populace; a “master physician” is an extraordinary doctor who is great and commands respect. Such a doctor has three basic qualities or spirits: the first is equality, treating all patients with the same care regardless of wealth, social status, or kinship ties; the second is caring, treating all patients as kin, with the deepest compassion and empathy; the third is selflessness, focusing only on treating patients without regard for personal safety or personal interests. This is the most important component of the concept that “a master physician must have superb skill and sincerity,” and the highest manifestation of “the caring heart of a physician,” which is the humanist spirit of Chinese medicine.
All patients seeing a doctor should be treated equally like family, regardless of their social status, wealth, age, physical appearance, or conduct, regardless of whether they are friends or enemies, whether they are Han or other ethnic groups, whether they are intelligent or not. The doctor must not be worrying right and left, considering personal gains or risks, or caring more about his own property, family or safety of life; he must treat the patient’s suffering as his own, be filled with compassion, fear no obstacles, disregard day and night, heat and cold, hunger and thirst, and think only of helping the sick. He must not be thinking of his fame or reputation. Only in this way can he become a master physician to all the people; otherwise he will bring disaster to everyone. (Sun Simiao: Essential Formulas for Emergencies)