If getting into medical college is tough then qualifying with 12 gold medals after four years of gruelling studies is like a dream come true. And M. Harshavardhan, 23, has not only achieved the rare distinction but is also preparing for an M.D. in Radiology, with the aim of taking up intervention radiology as a career.

He has won the coveted Johnstone Medal awarded to the best outgoing student of Madras Medical College but he is proud that he won most of his medals by participating in competitive examinations, which require higher diagnostic skills.

“The curriculum-based examinations are on simple, regularly seen diseases but competitive exams are a challenge as we are given only 20 minutes with the patient.” The most challenging case he was asked to diagnose was a patient with rare autoimmune disease that manifests as back ache and restricted movement. “Most of the diseases in rheumatology are difficult to diagnose. I did not get through that examination,” he declared ruefully.

Harshavardhan has taken the entrance examination for several colleges that offer his chosen course and has secured the 14th rank in the All India entrance examination. But he has little hopes of being admitted to King Edward Memorial Hospital, which he says is the best. “There is a lot of competition for radiology. I hope I get into at least the third best college in the country,” he says.

He hopes to get a fellowship in an internationally recognised hospital abroad. “I will return to India and serve here. I hope to build a hospital in India, perhaps when I turn 40,” he says.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012