Imran Khan’s “Hospital Bed Interview” Professionalism Vs Emotionalism

pic originally published in The News Tribe  on  10 May 2013.

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Professionalism is different from emotionalism. Sometimes the hairline difference of keeping them both segregated is the real test of an individual or an organization. It is an art easy to preach but difficult to practice.

A judge giving decisions on matters as grave as death sentences learns this art through a lifelong experience, education and exposure. Teachers at all levels strictly adhere to certain rules to impart an acceptable level of competence among their students. Journalists in the field or elsewhere had to exercise control on their feelings and emotions in order to avoid being carried away by the unfolding events.And most importantly surgeons or doctors entrusted upon for their patients’ treatment or life need to set distracting emotions aside while undergoing their professional duties.

The same mantra applies to the organizations. Law enforcing agencies may not like the idea of doing a Lathi charge or tear gasification on their own people but their professional duty might dictate them to do so for the larger public interest. A professional military despite of its capability cannot always be in a “stand to” position even against the most dangerous of its enemies.

Hence all the rules, regulations, standard operating procedures, statues, policies and set of laws governing a profession or an organization are not mere beautifully drafted documents. They need to be put in practice once the need arrives.

The recent unfortunate incident of Mr Imran Khan offer many insights in this regard. The emotional aspect of this incident was spell binding where major political leaders of the country showed acumen and all Pakistanis apart from their political affiliations showed concern for a national hero. The incident glorifies a hardly pressed nation that is determined to care about its loved ones.

However, apart from endless flow of emotions amidst Mr Imran Khan’s four minute speech from the hospital bed of a world class medical facility, one can clearly see the emotionalism crossing the line and completely taking over the professionalism. This act of non professionalism was shared almost equally by the hospital administration, the wildly free electronic media and the political junta of Mr Imran Khan.

Shaukat Khanum Hospital is no doubt a state of the art philanthropic project. However its claim of adherence to international standards was put to a brutal test once on evening of 7 th May 2013 it received one of its high profile patients ever, the founder of the hospital himself.From the years back firsthand experience of visiting SKMH to see a friend’s father, I have the idea of strict discipline imposed on the visitors. Even the most nearer ones are not allowed to jumble in the room at a given time ,what to talk of media men with microphones in hand and cameras rolling!

Unfortunately the well in place regulations and procedures of SKMH were violated ruthlessly once Imran Khan was admitted after his injury. It was a unique instance when an admitted patient was allowed to broadcast a speech from the bed of a hospital. Administration of any world class health facility would never think of such violation of professional ethics. Probably medical professionals at SKMH need to learn from Dr David Nunn of Guy’s Hospital, London who in 2011 famously warned than British Prime Minister David Cameron and his media team for violating hospital procedures.

The second instance of non professional behavior in this episode of “hospital bed interview” was displayed by our well familiar, sensation seeking and ratings savvy electronic media. In near past similar displays of non professionalism had caused significant damage to this otherwise highly respected profession. Normally juniors and new arrivals go to any lengths for goal scoring while the top hierarchy hardly let go an opportunity of milking the cow .Over the years a wrong notion had grown inside media that poking their nose everywhere is just a manifestation of “freedom of speech”. Probably a segment of our electronic media needs more time to choose between journalistic “responsibility” and “rating”. The sooner the better.

The third party in this episode is the inexperienced and infant political leadership encircling Imran Khan. In this particular situation it would have been much more respectful display of loyalty and sincerity if someone would have found courage to abstain his leader from giving an interview from a hospital bed.

In the end this all boils down to the man himself – Mr Imran Khan.
What can be done? Nothing much indeed.Politically ,the goal has been achieved from the interview and the cow has been fully milked. However to avoid any future precedence, a public resolve to show respect for the rules of hospital would do no political harm.

As a founder of SKMH , Imran Khan may be in a position to make rules of that hospital but as a patient he needs to abide by those rules.

After all who knows better than Imran Khan himself that a sports team, a world class hospital, a state of art educational institution and a jubilant political party can be built based on passion and emotions but in the longer run such organizations can only survive through dedication and sheer professionalism.

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