“I want to be a doctor”. This is the most common answer from kids when asked about their future plans, and parents too would be happy if they follow this.
Medical profession is certainly the noblest of all professions and doctors are respected all over the world. But this social recognition, respect and money is really-really hard earned. Years of dedicated hard work, determination and personal sacrifices makes a good doctor. It is not just about being good and earning money. There are certain things which parents and students need to ponder on (especially those who are from non-medical family background), before taking up the medical course.
Basic traits of a good medical practitioner
There are certain basic traits which are important in the medical field. Parents should look for these traits in the child or explain and develop them gradually, if the child wants to pursue medicine. These important traits are-
Logical and analytical skills- Diagnosing a health problem and planning the course of treatment requires a sharp analytical mind. A simple headache may have several causes, connected to different parts of the body. Our anatomy is a complex structure each related to each part in some way or the other. The common patient does not know this. For example, if a young woman has toothache and gum bleeding, she will obviously go to the dentist. The dentist finds no cavity or any external, visible cause for the problem. But the problem exists. The dentist must be sharp enough to think about all the possible causes of problem. In this woman’s case, the cause was pregnancy. She was three months pregnant. Because she was tall and fit, there was no visible sign of pregnancy.
And since she never knew that gums bleed during pregnancy, she did not mention it to the dentist. Similarly, some people experience tooth ache when they have cold. The doctor has to analyze all possibilities logically to go to the root of the problem. Not all patients are aware or knowledgeable enough to tell about all the symptoms or their medical history. The doctor has to find out and zero in on the cause out of the several possible causes. This skill therefore has to be essentially developed, because when you are handling life you cannot risk trial and error method. Theirs no scope of errors. You have to logically weigh every risk involved. The ‘how’ and ‘why’s should constantly push the mind till it finds the answer.
Meticulous- The dictionary meaning of meticulous is ‘particular about details’. This is exactly what a doctor has to be! He/she cannot ignore a single small symptom. During the time the patient is sitting in front and telling the problem, the doctor has to not just listen to what the patient is saying, but at the same time, he also notes down the color of eyes, teeth, hearing, twitching and other such small details which may lead to the cause.
Disciplined- A disciplined life and lifestyle are very important to be a good doctor. It is a mentally and physically stressful profession where you are dealing with life and death. You cannot risk other people’s life by doing late night parties, drinks and then a couple of hours of sleep. Doctors need to maintain a healthy routine to stay calm and alert.
Patience- Sometimes some problems are puzzling and diagnosis may take a lot of time. But you cannot give up. You have to keep pursuing the matter in your mind, discuss with other doctors, read up books, ask several related questions to the patient and their relatives, and wait for the effect of the prescribed treatment. Doctors also need to have patience to answer all the queries (however small) made by the patient and her relatives.
Caring- A caring attitude helps to win over the patient’s confidence. This helps in the treatment as the patient responds positively with faith in the doctor. Respect, love and care do half the healing. A good caring doctor never frightens the patient, while tactfully telling the facts.
Team spirit- Doctors have to co-ordinate and work with each other as a team as our anatomy is interrelated. Whatever specialization you may take up, you will have to remain connected with all the doctors. Not just doctors, nurses, radiologists, and lab technicians everyone is involved.
Determination- You have to study hard. There are lots of books to be studied and understood. The hard work does not stop with the MBBS degree. It goes on through the internship and forever. Starting with the first year in medical college, one need a minimum of 8 to 10 years to settle down as a doctor. One must have the ability to push oneself through uncomfortable situations like failed treatment, death, bleeding etc.
The expenditure on medical course is comparatively higher than other courses. Earnings too start pouring in slowly, because a doctor earns reputation with experience which does not happen all of a sudden. It takes time.
Life of a Doctor
It is an immensely satisfying and rewarding life, if you can make your patients happy with your healing touch. The smile and lifelong respect you earn from happy, healthy patients, will make you love and admire life all the more. But to earn this, you have to be truly in love with and passionate about your profession.
A doctor cannot easily switch off his work, once he is home, because he deals with real people who need his help, both physically and psychologically. Some cases keep poking the mind every single minute, till a solution is found. There are many patients with many different problems, a proper record of which has to be maintained. Then there are emergencies, to which you have to rush, leaving aside your own personal life. If you have your own hospital, it’s a 24 hour job! You then not only attend to your patients, but have to handle the administration of the hospital too. It’s never a 9 to 5 job for doctors. With time the stress often starts showing on the general health of the doctor himself, who then has to forcibly curtail his appointments and maintain a comfortable schedule.
A good family support system is required, so that you can share family and professional responsibilities. Sometimes spouses and children of doctors feel lonely, due to their work load, which may not have any Sundays or long vacations. One has to be prepared for a hard working life. Doctors need to judiciously plan out their life, so as to allow sufficient family time, along with devotion to the profession, even if means a little less income.
The medical course
To appear for pre-medical entrance tests, one has to clear 12th standard with Physics, chemistry, biology and English with a minimum of 50% aggregate (may be higher for some entrance tests). Almost all states of India conduct medical entrance tests for admission to various state medical colleges. Besides, there is All India Pre-medical test (AIPMT) for admission to the best medical colleges in the country.
The lower age limit for appearing for pre-medical test is 17 years and the upper limit is 25 years.
Other medical related fields
• Ayurvedic medicine.
Plan out your life with a positive frame of mind. There’s no happiness in the world which comes by giving happiness to the needy. If you care for humanity and inculcate a healthy, spiritual life, medicine is certainly the field for you.