The Journey of Becoming a Doctor
On my fifth birthday, I decided I wanted to become a doctor. I proudly walked to my mum with small hushed steps and broad lifted shoulders to loudly declare “’ Mum, I want to save lives.” My mum looked at me and gave a knowing smile. I looked at her with curiosity. At that tender age, I probably didn’t understand why she smiled. But now as I look back I wonder, she must have been thinking “Child, you have no idea what you are getting yourself into”.
A doctor is assumed by many to be equivalent to the real world Spiderman. A superhero that is always right. For whom the smallest mistake is no less than a sin. He is supposed to take long shifts, perform herculean surgeries, deal with blood and sweat all day and still manage to wear a smile for every patient he sees. In the worst days at home, a doctor is expected to be all cheerful and pepped up in the hospital and save lives flawlessly. Social and family life is a definite NO. And money is not what a doctor should be aiming for. These are some of the standards that have been set up for a profession which stands at the highest altar of humanity.
As a student, as we delve into the profession, as we educate ourselves, as we understand the status of this profession, we become scared. Scared to step in this real world! Because we after all are humans! By dictionary a creation who is highly capable of making mistakes. Unfortunately, in a doctor’s world, a mistake is not a mistake, but it is negligence. It is a lost life. We are scared because we have emotions too. We cannot always stand rock steady in the worst of situations, we tend to breakdown, our systems tend to collapse, and the smile sometimes betrays us. But we can’t, because a collapsing doctor can never restore the pulse of a dying patient.
We get scared because our physiology is very much humanly, Spiderman does not run in our blood. We tend to get tired, our legs give up, our mind whizzes and the long shifts exhaust us. We need sleep and a warm bed at home. But we can’t let our body give up; there are nights that we need to be awake so that we make sure our patients sleep peacefully in bed.
And hence we start doubting ourselves .Is this the profession we really want to pursue for the rest of our lives? Are we ready to sacrifice so many things? We look at our friends earning a good amount of money right out of their business schools. We look at them buying expensive cars at a mere age of 25. We on the other hand take years to settle and be capable of supporting our families. It’s a long and arduous journey understood only by those who have went through it themselves. We weigh the pros and cons day by day unable to reach a conclusion asking ourselves the question is it really worth it?
As we finally take our oath on our graduation ceremonies, we finally get the answers we have been looking for. That for us is a moment of pride and a moment of promise to be faithful to this profession that we have decided to stick to for the rest of our lives. We have decided to travel in this one boat through thick and thin. As cheesy as it may sound, what made the decision for us is nothing else then the smile on a satisfied patients face.
How much we complain about social lives, we know we enjoy nothing more than standing in the Emergency Room (ER) and saving a life. How much we complain about tough schedules, we know nothing is more rewarding then the prayers of someone we healed. How much we complain about less money and more work, we know that no other profession can give us the satisfaction that we have earned here. And at that moment we realize that this is what we want to do for the rest of our lives.
The decision being made, the next step for all of us is to stick to the promise we have made to ourselves. To give this profession the respect and dedication it deserves. To not get negligent and carefree with time. To progress and not regress. And to make sure that smile never wears out. And from that moment starts our journey of becoming the Real world Spiderman. Literally of becoming “better doctors”.
About the Author: Saba Fatima Ali is a final year medical student in Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan. She can be reached at: [email protected]
About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2012 for the theme: Becoming better doctors
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