Saturday, July 3, 2010

Becoming a doctor

Yesterday was doctor's day. Like so many other days that we celebrate these days, we have a doctor's day too. Many people came and wished me and suddenly I was filled with so many mixed and confused feelings that they are now paving their way to this blog post! ;-)

Yes I am a doctor. I have slogged almost 5 gruelling years in being successful to write the "Dr' in front of my name. And let me be frank, it was such an amazing feeling that time to write that prefix in front of my name, it made all the madness of those five years seem absolutely sane! Hmmn, now you are wondering why I am calling this five years of medical training as a madness! If it was such a madness,why did I even think of a further madness of three years in achieving a post graduate degree! Well, let me explain.

What will you call the experience of trying to keep awake the whole night with intermittent intake of raw coffee powder in order to understand some weird biochemical pathway of how cholesterol is formed in the body step by step? Or may be trying to learn by heart words like Cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene and trying to even remember what this weird sounding name looks like (for the uninitiated, it is the structure of a steroid!). Or how about spending a whole evening in the spring, that too when you are only 19 years old, trying to understand something called tricotilomania! Well, I call them madness, esp when the experience continues for whole 5 YEARS!

I tell you what, actually what is even more maddening is that after spending so much of time and energy in learning many inane pieces of information (and some useful ones), when you think you are the walking talking knowledge bank on this earth and land up the hospital wards for performing your duty as a doctor, you are completely taken aback at the utter disillusionment that awaits you. For one, many a times you are being called as a "sister" (of course you have to belong to the same privileged sex as me), in the medicine OPD the medical representatives don't even pay attention to you, in the hospital wards you are only being asked to make i.v channels and take blood samples and do catheterization by your seniors, in the surgery OT, you just get to pass on the scalpel and worse still, in the orthopedic OPD, you try your best to keep holding someones heavy legs, which seems to betray you at every moment!

So, somewhere people like me, esp the first generation doctors, who thought, the day we pass out from the medical school, everybody will start treating us with awe and wonder, we will become rich and famous soon, started a process of disillusionment which seemed to deepen by the day! We felt small and let down when we saw our school mates, who got in to engineering, started to earn hefty packets soon after graduation while we were searching for redemption in a successful lumbar puncture or may be by taking out blood samples of 100 patients in a day. And on top that, the only hope to get out of this routine was to qualify for a post graduate exam for which you are supposed to outperform thousands of equally brilliant doctors for one seat! Isn't it all sheer madness!

OK, so is it all about a mad bleak picture for which I started to write this blog? Not at all. Contrary to whatever you might have thought after reading till this, I am very happy to be a doctor. Yes, it is true that I don't actively see patients everyday as my chosen field of work does not so demand, but I have come a long way from a very scary winter night some fifteen years back,when I was scared when my father was having an asthma attack and I could not fathom what to do, or a day when I used to be scared if somebody in my home fell ill. I am scared no more. I know how to reach out to many in pain, in illness. My friends and colleagues who actively work in the clinics, most of them somehow or the other feel redeemed (apart from the monetory redemption ;-) ) at the end of a hard day's work. For me, I work in a domain which allows me to help the process of new drug development in a minuscule way and I know every medicine is a hope for somebody somewhere, someday.

Yes, I love my profession. Today, all the madness of five years and beyond of my medical education makes absolute sense to me. I have no regrets and I am proud to be a doctor. One of my colleagues passed me a beautiful quote yesterday and I am copying the same here:

"For Years we pore over black and white,
The pages may blur but not our sight.
For we have a vision of the serpents and the wand,
The sign of healing under which we bond.
so here's to all who sail the same boat,
united in our goal by the same white coat"

Cheers to being a doctor!


  1. Another incredible piece of art came out from your mind although the opinion varies among our generation doctors from different family background. Absolutely clear picture of a first generation doctor is being reflected here I understand. I knew many of our batchmates whose father, grandfather all were established doctors and they used to come driving their own car to attend college. I am sure their views might be diffrent. Cheers and wish you Happy doctors' day.

  2. A wonderfully thoughtful post!
    Being close to your heart, the topic has been beautifully dealt with. I am happy to see that the underlying zeal and passion quintessential in a doctor has come out with flying colors in your write-up.