Prof (Dr) Viyatprajna Acharya
Biochemistry, KIMS, KIIT (DU), Bhubaneswar
When the sun is trying to manifest itself lifting the veil of mist, dogs turn and twist their body to gear up for the day, vegetable vendors just arriving with their baskets, women lazily walking with the buckets and pots towards the common hand pumps of the village, some people coming out of their slumber sipping their hot cup of tea; I was speeding at 70-80 Km/Hr on a cold morning to take the class through Chandaka route, for 1st year MBBS students at 8 AM after finishing the household chores, looking after kids’ studies, instructing maid and cook, serving tea and varied snacks for all.
On reaching the lecture theatre after putting thumb impression on 2 different bio-metric devices (one for college, one for MCI; after being highest educated, our caliber is finally funneled to our thumb impression) found my obedient 150 students, all well-dressed, neatly groomed, full of enthusiasm waiting for me to pour out knowledge to them. Yes, they are future doctors, they may be thrashed, crashed under pressure but they are taught to be well-dressed and groomed as the patient wants to see them always cheerful. This is just the beginning of the trap.
From lecture, they’ll run to the dissection hall in Anatomy department to lovingly handle the formalin treated human carcass, half gulping the volatilized fume coming out of the cadaver. Then they’ll run for pricking their own fingers to study their own blood smears in Physiology under microscope too. With studying day in and day out also they’ll be told in the exam that they pass by mercy, as medical science is inexhaustible.
They’ll sacrifice their sleep, food, comfort and recreation to learn multifarious subjects in the next 4 years in the names of Pathology, Microbiology, Forensic medicine, the rum-pel-stil-kin like terms filled in Pharmacology, Medicine, Surgery, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, community medicine, Ophthalmology, ENT, Skin & VD, Psychiatry and even dentistry rushing from classrooms to OPDs to bed-side teachings. They’ll be enforced to learn about Indian penal code to the water seal-level of commode and Indian latrines to drugs and all kinds of encyclopedic knowledge about almost everything on earth (Please don’t think that physics and astronomy are excluded).
When their friends in other curricula would have come out successfully with a job in hands they’ll be still doing their internship. When others would have chosen their better-halves, they’d be juggling with the decisions of buying guidebooks for PG entrance exams. Even if they choose one, it’ll be very serious and a well-guided by parents’ love-cum-arranged relationship (a medico can’t take added burden of marital related problems).
We will teach them how they have to consider their patients as God, how our profession is a noble one, how the profession is a respectable one….etc if not money, at least they’ll have lot of respect in the society
But….when they come out of the cocoon of their medical colleges to face the real world, they will know that as per the efforts put, it’s not a very rewarding stream. They would try to cope up with the dilapidated doctors’ quarters at periphery hospitals which will be lacking even a proper toilet system, forget about water supply (a bharua= man/ woman carrying water may kindly pour 4 buckets of water everyday), non-co-operative pharmacist (doctors are considered chief competitors), drunkard attendants and other staff, with hovering thoughts of clearing PG entrance exams (Nowadays people want their doctors to be not just specialists but super-specialists).
Without their knowledge village guys would be encircling the OPD to supervise whether the doctor is seeing patients or not properly, when the poor doctor is surrounded by 50 odd patients at any point of time of all category.
If amidst all these ordeals he clears PG entrance exams, 3 years fly away learning more and more about less and less (specialization). Either again they have to join a peripheral hospital or stay in medical colleges.
Nope, the story doesn’t end here. the vulnerability of getting thrashed by the public in fact grows further because people think that if a patient comes to a doctor, then death has no right to come. Know not how many political leaders get away with their false promises, bridge collapses but only we hear some suspension orders, know not how many innocents get penalized in the court of law…we never hear public beating, man-handling or accusing them of neglecting their duties…but what happens to a doctor? The newspapers are flooded with the stories of negligent doctors, doctors being thrashed. But who knows the real story after all!
Does anyone know that if a doctor earns more, it’s at the cost of his rest, recreation and health!
Otherwise, they are the least paid of all the intellectuals. Indian doctors see each patient for 2 minutes as per a survey, but they do it immediately, unlike their counterparts in Western countries who give appointment after 2 months (even for painful conditions). Is anyone aware of the doctor-population ratio of India?? Yet, every patient is immediately attended.
If the malice and violence towards the doctors continue thus, maybe someday they’ll be forced to withdraw from their profession ready to be even become vegetable vendors (who are better-off financially than doctors and neither have risk of life from the public).
People believe actors on television who have no vision regarding health or health system, yet after incurring disease due to their own irresponsibility, ask the doctors thousands of irritating question regarding their treatment protocol. For the money taken by hospitals (patients want 5-star treatment in hospitals nowadays, no one wants a general ward or non-AC cabin), diagnostic procedures etc the patients and their attendants take out their anguish on the helpless, over-burdened doctors if anything goes wrong.
With such breach of trust there won’t be any good doctors left who put their heart and soul for the patients’ benefit (thankfully India is having ample of such noble doctors today also), all that we’ll hear will be judiciary battles, insurances and commercialization of health.
Ultimately, deluded and lured with the charm of whitecoat and stethoscope curled around the neck and again deluded by the respect from the society, the doctors who embrace this all-sacrificing stream should not be made to believe that they have been deluded to choose the wrong path.