A letter to medicine hopefuls

The right reasons Come from a place of fascination for the process of healing  

Dear Parents and Students,

The time for college applications and the final preparation for NEET and other competitive examinations, is here. But before you decide on taking up medicine, know a few things from someone who has been there.

Reality bites

I believe there is a contradiction between expectation and reality, which begins very early in our professional lives. For most students like me and a few of my close friends, opting for medicine is not because of an interest in the subject, but because it seems to guarantee a secure future. I chose the medical stream as early as Class XI, because I was lured by my father’s respect in society and the money he earned. From the time they were very young, my friends’ parents kept hammering into them that the way to mansions and luxurious cars is through medicine.

In my batch at medical school, a lot of students enter college after years of hearing: Bas yeh exam pass kar lo, phir maje hi maje hain (Just pass this exam and then it’s just a fun life). Others thought that life in a medical college, away from home, would be full of booze and fun. The reality is a huge syllabus, weekly tests, and tyrannical professors.

Ragging and bullying

When I had to fill in the choice of colleges, I was fearful of putting down the names of a few due to ‘Strip Badminton’ as part of their ‘induction’ culture. Now, ragging has been renamed PDP (Personality Development Programme).

Seniors feel that an interaction with them will help juniors sail through the tough years. They’ll mark important questions from hefty books, help you cheat, give you their notes, or teach you. In return, you should be ready to entertain them anytime, anywhere — when they are abused by their seniors, or have had a fight with their girlfriends, or fail or even pass. Bullying is not only limited to your introduction with head and neck bent, but goes on to you having dummy-sex with a chair, or being called meetha (gay). Some of my friends, who looked strong on the outside, came out crying after this night-long session.

It is not as if the college authorities are not strict — you can find large hoardings with ‘Say No to Ragging', so there is no physical ragging; it’s at an emotional and psychological level.

Day in and day out

Another important factor to consider is the heavy workload on doctors. Residents often work five days on the trot with little sleep, unhealthy food, and sometimes no bath. They are sleepy in the OPD, get easily get agitated, and start making mistakes. They fall sick and many have low immunity, contracting tuberculosis easily. Medicine and surgery — the core branches of our profession — are said to have bright prospects, but they are the most strenuous. How can a doctor who has no self-care take care of a patient?

During our college fest, I met a photographer who told me that he had dropped out from AIIMS just because he was more interested in photography. I joked, “Had you told me earlier, I would have tried to get your seat.” He asked me, “Getting into AIIMS was my dream too, but, at what cost?” I had no answer.

My relatives enrolled their son into medical coaching the year I got selected. He did Class XI under stress, but failed intentionally in the exams. Eventually, his parents realised their mistakes, but it cost him an entire year.

I ask all students who choose medicine: Come from a place of fascination for the process of healing or the desire to bring positive change in others’ lives.

My father says, “No one can eat money.” I couldn’t agree more. Look for a profession that makes you happy. Money, for a decent living, will always follow.

The writer is in his second year of MBBS at a college in Delhi.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 7:09:39 PM |

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