​A letter to non medico from a medico friend

Dear friend,

Remember me? Yes, I am that same guy/girl who used to be humiliated at times for studying rather than playing, for choosing books over looks. 

I used to see you every day through my window playing football while I was cramming my biology lessons on frogs and cockroaches (courtsey: medical entrance exam pattern).

I remember, you got admission in some IIT or NIT or may be IIIT or may be a fancy DU college. Despite Studying so much, i couldn’t clear medical entrance in the first attempt. I hope you are aware that the competition here is very stiff. 

After one or may be two or may be three attempts, I enter a medical college just to realise that the real struggle now starts. By the time, you are halfway through your degree I am still in my initial years of college, trying to figure out why the hell I prepared for medical entrances! 

While I was busy dating those voluminous books in one and a half year long second professional, you were preparing for your job interviews along with the routine fun of a college life.

When I reached third professional, you had already secured a handsome package and some among you even flew away to US for a dream job.

When I completed my MBBS, I was already 25. I thought my struggle was now over. But I was told that the real struggle has just began. After battling over 19 subjects, a hundred exams and reading countless books, I realised that the degree is of no worth unless I do my post graduation. By this time you are switching jobs to get higher enumeration. 

I start preparing for PG Entrances. Same 19 subjects, but this time along with MCQ books for each subject and coaching notes. Here again, the competition is stiff. After an attempt or two, I manage to get a branch of my choice. Some are not lucky. They have to take a branch they don’t like, because they have to, there is no option. There are many who are still struggling to get that seat.

By this time you are planning to buy yourself a car or a flat from your own salary, and I have just started earning now at the age of 26 or 27. 

The real struggle, as they always say, now begins. Straight 24,36,48 hrs duties multiple times in a week. Whether I am a girl or a guy, doesn’t matter. Whether I have had food in the last 24 hours, doesn’t matter. My family, my life, my love, my feelings…doesn’t matter. Holi, Diwali, Rakshabandhan, my birthday, any special occasion… Doesn’t matter! Whether I am being physically assaulted or abused while on duty… Doesn’t matter!

I get ripped apart on rounds by my seniors and consultants as the reports for the blood sample I took, did not came…For any job that wasn’t my responsibility, was not done. 

I make sure that the orderly and nursing staff do their jobs. Many a times I have to run to get blood for the patient or arrange a trolly or bargain for the closest date for any investigation that is required for the patient. 

When Patient’s own attendants run away from giving blood to the patient, I have to go to the medical officer requesting him to sanction blood for the patient. However the same attendants appear like vultures around a dead body, when that patient dies. Their emotions rise up and they make me their punching bag. 

I am in consistent contact with deadly diseases including TB ( including MDR and XDR varities), HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Swine flue. Many of my colleagues in different parts of the country have got infected with these diseases and some have even lost their lives. ( No! That doesn’t count as martyrdom. We are anti national breeds.)

There might be diseases, medical sciences has currently no clue about and hence no preventive measures for the same. May be decades later, I’ll again pay the price of choosing medicine as a career option after I am found to be affected with those diseases, like doctors of our previous generation are now found to be having hepatitis infection.(Again! No compensation and medical insurance)

This time I really don’t know what you are upto, because I am so immersed in my duties that I have no clue where my own life is going. 

Then comes super speciality and I repeat the same round of overburdened and hectic residency for next three years. At the age of 32-33, finally I get the chance to work in private hospitals as a consultant, with some decent salary. 

But now I have my family. I need a home. My hairs have all turned grey. Now I need to earn to feed my family and maintain the standards the society expects from a doctor.

Corporate hospitals work like any other multinational companies, where you people work as managers. Only difference being that while you create diseases (Courtesy: PepsiCo, ITC, Kingfisher et al), I save you from the same. Both work for their profit and we are mere employee. 

I often read your updates where I find you engaged in corporate parties  in five stars (No! There are no hospital parties. There are CMEs sponsored by pharma companies. There as well, we go to learn and have some fun. However, media has issues with that as well).

You can afford to have overpriced popcorn and coke in a multiplex cinema. But, when you go to visit a doctor for consultation, you have issues with the ‘rates’ charged by him. (To remind you, lawyers charge 2-3 Lacs per hearing. How do we know that? Courtesy: Our examination system and policies, we often have to fight against)

At times, you take consultations directly from the pharmacist or a quack. But when you come to visit me, you make sure that you have done whole research on your illness. (Courtesy: Google) In your attempt to impress me with your half baked knowledge, you really piss me off. 

Meanwhile, sometimes when I get time to read a newspaper, I read the following articles which makes my blood boil.

  • Doctor beaten by a mob. ( In Hindi newspaper, it reads: Doctor ko dauda dauda kar sadak  par peeta. How sensitive! Well done people. We deserve that!)
  • A resident doctor commits suicide. (Stress! Failure in examination!)
  • Nation wide exit test for MBBS passouts before practice. (A 10th fail quack can prescribe what an MBBS cannot!)
  • Compulsory rural service for doctors. ( JNU wale netagiri kare, DU wale modelling. Engineering wale private jobs ya phir US. Bas ek hum hain jinhe dharti maa ka bojh utarna hai, woh bhi bina kisi facility ke!)
  • Baba Ramdev claims to cure cancer and HIV. (Holy Shit!)
  • A 21 year old fresh graduate from IIT/DCE/Fancy DU college gets 1 crore package from a US firm. (Media goes gaga over it. What a proud moment! Will work to effectively manage a firm so that they mint out maximum possible money out of your pocket)
  • An editorial on how the doctors are minting out money from general public.

It’s not just a rant against daily physical assaults on the doctors. It’s just small glimpse of our life. It’s not just another 9-4 job. Yes there are some people doing unscrupulous things, but that happens in every field.

Do you know why we still love our profession, because It’s satisfying to see the results of your knowledge when a patient’s life is saved. At the same time we can’t save a patient who has no chances or if we do not have the appropriate setup for adequate care of the patient or if there is severe shortage of doctors (courtesy: government you voted for).

But why I am telling you all this stuff. Why should you be concerned at all? 

So that before going to a doctor, you have an idea what it takes to be one. 

So that you treat him as a human being, just a human being. Nothing more, nothing less. 

So that, one fine day, when your kid comes up to you and tells you that he wants to be a doctor, you can tell him straight away this is how the doctors are treated in this country.

Don’t save the doctors, Save yourself!

Pick courtesy: Laughing Doses (Dr Ganesh Choudhari)

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About Rahul Chawla

PG Resident, Internal medicine (M.D.), Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi. Author of Handbook of Biology and Biology @ your fingertips Website: www.pmtgurumantra.in Personal Blog: www.drrahulchawla.com
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