The MBBS degree and Internship is done and at the end of 5 and half years the myth breaks, you realise you are not the doctor you set out to be!
At this point in life, while friends from other fields are enjoying the good life, you immerse yourself in books again and crack another entrance ( not all make it ,definitely more heartaches and tears there, than one for a curry gone wrong on masterchef! ) to enter speciality training that lasts for 3 years.
In the mean time depending on the whims of the power be, you could easily add a year or two of rural service prior to the course. The course starts with bang and you become a resident doctor, means a doctor who calls the hospital his home. The training is vigorous with no respite. This goes on through out residency and finally you end up a specialist.
Three years hardwork gets you M.S., short for Master of Surgery, personally the word “master” made it all worthwhile ( made you feel one with Sachin, the master blaster, so what if i missed my chance at cricket). My counterparts who pursued medicine ended up with M.D., “Doctor of Medicine”.
For many, this could be the beginning of a more stable life as you again get to stay at HOME. Although you are back home, years of residency training has scarred you for ever because by now you are unaffected by sleep deprivation, food is consumed for energy only, and the notion of working hours remain only a notion, but about this scar i have honestly felt like the lady in the soap commercials ” kuchh dhaag acche hain ” and nothing has helped a doctor more in practise than these virtues!
Eerily even after nearly 10 years of medical training some of us “still don’t feel like the doctors they set out to be”, so we brace our selves for another entrance and 3 more years of residency, the training continues but this time more focused on just one body part and become SUPER-specialists, wish our connection with marvel characters was not just a name sake the task is herculean , but through all this we stay normal……. nothing “strange” about us doctors. This time the degree’s called DM for super-specialty in medicine short for “Doctor of Medicine” and the surgeons get the degree of MCh , “Magister Chirurgiae”, Latin for “Master of Surgery”, basically we get a degree with the same meaning after 3 more years of sheer toil.
It has been years since, but even today when iam operating on a brain tumour, or clipping a complex aneurysm which demands extreme concentration for hours, occasionally 10-12 hours at a stretch , or when i am up all night trying to save a patient of head trauma, i can effortlessly shut myself off to the extent to which i can’t feel the ache in my neck , the strain in the eyes, the hunger for food, or the lack of sleep. Now i know, it is the years spent in residency training that come to my rescue and helped me do all of it day after day.
Today as i look back and remember my patients, many that god helped me save, some whom we could give some extra time here ,and some who proved that we are still humans and still need to get a lot better. Ive always felt humbled by each of these experiences and believe that all my colleagues out there also, feel the same.This is the story of doctors around the globe as we continue practising………… practising to make ourselves better, practising to be perfect.