I’m 27, a junior doctor from India here in UK, will be appearing for PLAB Part 2 exam soon, and will be appearing for the MRCS Part 1 & 2 exams in January 2006. I had a dream to become a great general surgeon. My dad is a great, great laparoscopic surgeon, and so was my grand-dad a doctor. But now due to certain circumstances, which I shall be mentioning in detail in this article, I want to be different, do different and step aside from "standard protocol". I want to end this pattern of "insult" to our once-upon-a-time GREAT profession. I am therefore looking at alternative career prospects, simply because of the following:
I remember that, when I and my friends had cleared the medical joint entrance exam, we all went crazy with joy, and praised ourselves for the big achievement. Little did we realise what uncertainties lay ahead.
It was a 5.5 years gruelling course, which demanded many years and lots of hard work. And with each university exam of the MBBS course we cleared, we felt that greater glory, and that feeling of almost "being there". In the meantime, all our non-medico friends, and relatives would look up to us, and tell us how lucky we were to being to-be-docs. A combination of all this made us feel great! Little did we realise what uncertainties lay ahead.
Then it was that almost final moment of glory. We passed our final MBBS exam, and we all enthusiastically expressed the same feeling from within saying..."I’ve done it!” Little did we realise what uncertainties lay ahead.
Finally, it was that ultimate glory, the moment of our lives, the stamp of authority, when after our internship we stood in that black cloak, received our certificates, and read the oath. Boy! Were we happy that day? But, again, little did we realise what uncertainties lay ahead.
This is what we realise, after all these moments of immense joy, that we are nobody in today’s world. Just try telling a person/patient that you have an MBBS degree, which you got after clearing one of the toughest exams like the JEE's, then worked hard to clear 4.5 years of fat books, tough exams and viva's, and then went through a back-breaking internship year, where we had to give duties as long as 36 hrs at a stretch. That person/patient will think "just a simple MBBS"!!! Now how is that going to feel.....huh? They want MD's, MS's, etc., etc., or else we are nobody. What can be more unfair, and insulting? So here's what we all do to counter that insult. Read on...
We battle it out to take an even tougher exam, which sometime we try to clear for years on end....the post-graduate entrance exam! Some of take us the PLABs, USMLE's, AMC's, Royal college exams and what not. We spend more brain power, more time, more money, all in an effort to be able to regain what was so mercilessly taken from us...our respect and our recognition as being really nice, efficient, honest and hardworking guys. There is a reward waiting for us at the end of it all!
And here are the rewards:
a) You work like crazy from early morning to late night.
b) You see that other professions around us are getting paid loads more with half the effort. And if you want to equal that pay-level, then you have to leave home an two hours earlier in the morning, and come back two hours later, trying to squeeze in more private practice/surgeries, etc.
c) You have no family or social life left. It makes you a mechanical being.
d) You have no time left for anything else in your life, and whatever money you earn is spent by your wife, kids, etc. because you don’t even have the time to spend it.
e) Do you get that respect? Well, how can you when you have a million consumer protection acts looming down on you for the slightest unintentional mistake. You face disgusting protests and abuses when miracles don’t save a patient, even though you have devoted yourself a billion percent to save a patient.
f) You being bossed around by managers and administrators, and being told what to do by them, and even getting less pay than them. When most of them are not even docs!
g) You see that even in the so called “developed countries” like UK, where I am now, that as far as respect goes, the doctors, all these hardworking devoted doctors, are at the bottom of the ladder. They have to be meek-health-providers to the patients, and it’s as if the patients and nurses and managers rule. They err, no problem, but if you err, all hell breaks loose. You make the tiniest of "mistakes", as in, talk in a bit of a grumpy way to a patient/nurse, simply because you have had a long and tiring day, and haven’t had the time to even grab a bite and the patients end up complaining that the doctor misbehaved and what does the doctor get? An official warning!
h) Even back in India, doctors just try and earn an honest living by working that extra bit harder and they are branded as scrupulous or dishonest who are using their profession to make money! How many people on planet earth are not into a profession to make money? One percent, I’d say. Yet the respect and the nobleness of this profession have been thrown out of the window, and instead replaced with sickening accusations!
Well, that’s about it from me. Besides, every single bit that you others have mentioned about the so-called "golden days" of being a doctor being gone, you are truly right and I’m sure my small article will make things all the more clearer. By the way, I do not mean to say that being a doctor isn’t good anymore. Let me make myself clear on this point. Doctors are still the greatest individuals on the face of our planet, who sacrifice so much, and give so much for humanity and they'll always be that way. So all you people who want to be doctors, who are in the process of being doctors, and who are already doctors, just keep up the great work. Planet earth needs you guys. It’s just that this "humanity" and society has taken us for granted. So that’s why all this talk about us doctors thinking of looking after ourselves and our lives now, by looking at better career prospects, other than medicine.
I am signing off for now. Anyone who supports what I say and feel, please feel free to discuss the issue with me and anyone who disagrees with anything I say, please feel even more free to tell me where I might be wrong. Last but not the least, no offence meant to anyone.
Just one more thing, I am seriously looking into the career shift option. All others out here, who are thinking or planning on similar lines, who are executing such plans, please get in touch with me out here. I'd be absolutely delighted to hear from you all and share the information you might be having, so it can help me and others too, in making important decisions in their lives. Take care all of you and all the best!
Note: please do participate in debate on this topic which is going on in offbeat forum at http://www.rxpgonline.com/postp156281.html