Not long ago, I happened to attend a small get together of my MBBS batchmates. With soft music playing in the background and dim lights, the topic of discussion soon shifted from frivolous things to the more pertinent question which, I feel, every professional must have dealt with multiple times in his/her lifetime. If the decision to become a doctor was right or wrong? I was taken aback by the responses. Majority did not know the answer and acknowledged that. But, the more surprising part was that seven out of 10 felt that they do not want their kids to choose this profession. This left me pondering over a bigger question. What has changed in the recent times that the so called earlier sought after "medical profession" seems to have lost its charm. Is it the availability of alternative and more rewarding alternate careers or the changing attitude of society at large?
So what's the hardest part? Firstly, it is a hard, ardous and long journey. Unless the desire to excel is strong, it is really tough to go through the ordeal of never-ending studies, tutorials and further studies. Secondly, the prolonged incubation period between entry into MBBS to becoming a full-fledged specialized doctor drains many. While your batch mates in other fields are planning retirement, a doctor after completing his studies and super specialization has just started making a name for himself/herself in the field.
The above two hardships are known and most people willingly embrace the two but the hardest part is the paradigm shift in the expectations from this profession. The harsh reality and the challenges the profession faces today is worth a thought.
The recent change in the attitude of the society is catastrophic. The doctor is perceived more as a 'service provider' rather than a dedicated professional. So, the medical practice has become more defensive. Physicians always worry about missing a threatening diagnosis, unintentionally spreading infection or committing a technical error. The fear stems from a profound anxiety of dealing with the many grey areas of medical practice - the realization that medical science is also an art rather than simple scientific formulas. The fear is also the result of self protective paranoia of being sued for malpractice, which haunts majority in this field at present.
However, there is the other side of the coin also. The life of a practising physician is incredibly rewarding. Making challenging diagnoses, helping patients deal with and overcome devastating illnesses and comforting families after a loss of a loved one - these are powerful emotional experiences. No other profession can provide such profound sense of fulfillment as this.
On a personal front, I feel no other profession can give such an opportunity for deep insight into life as this. Seeing the miseries of disease and death at such close quarters, changes the perspective towards life. If nothing else, it definitely evolves the soul and forces almost everybody in this profession to ponder about life and death questions. Especially in specialties like cancer, nephrology etc where you see prolonged illnesses - one sees humanity and human behaviour at its best and worst, both. The harsh realities of human relationships and complex equations guiding human behaviour may be depressing for some but definitely, teach a lot.
Yes, being in this profession can be quite stressful and hard especially while announcing critical medical conditions and near death situation. But equally rewarding part of being a doctor is watching the relief, happiness on the faces of the patients and the attendants of a cured one.
Undoubtedly, it is still the best profession to be able to give back to society.
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