Medicine: A Whorl of Excitement, Demands and Challenges
It was her second day at medical school. She was nervous yet excited, and was cherishing the moments while walking through the corridors, along with other students, when she entered into a room with ten tables, each covered with a white sheet. And then the professor said, “Okay! Pull back the sheets.” And as one of the students pulled the sheet back, her eyes could not see what they saw.
There in front of her was lying a man; pale, calm and showing no signs of life. Yes, here was her very first cadaver for dissection. She shrieked in fright and her nerves were on edge but she mustered up the courage and started dissecting, with rest of the students, following the guidelines given by teacher. While working on the cadaver she thought: “This man must never had thought of coming here, on this autopsy table, to be played by the students, with scissors and scalpels.
He must have been through thick and thin, had enjoyed life and laughed and cried……”, and then the professor’s voice caught her attention, bringing her back to the class room from the deep valley of her pensive thoughts, “Dear young doctors! Remember, you have taken a huge responsibility so from now on, you are going to be responsible for the lives of other human beings…..” “The lives, oh my God”, she thought.
Getting admission in a medical school and becoming a doctor, it was all what Sarah always dreamt of but before entering in this new world of responsibilities she was not exactly aware of the challenges she would have had to face. Burden of studies, a fire hose of never ending information, time management, then the ward rotations and ever growing responsibilities and what not. Sometimes she used to think,”Whoever said I could be a doctor? No, I could never be. What if I kill somebody? What if I bring tears to someone’s eyes instead of bringing smile on their face?”
And every time she was engulfed by a bitter-sweet sadness. Still she was motivated and excited as becoming a doctor was her passion. But the situation was quite distressing after she stepped in her practical life. But Sarah was not the only sufferer.
These are the challenges faced by every student and every doctor. Life gets harder after medical school and even harder after that. Rapidly mounting debts and expenses, lack of sleep, burden of studies, never ending exams, ward rotations, hazing from seniors and doctors, these are some bitter realities faced by every medical student so it would not be an exaggeration to say that when you have entered in medicine you can never get out of it. They have to learn an ocean of knowledge in just five or six years.
There is no other profession like medicine, so demanding and so challenging. And when time comes to step into the professional life they have to face the problems regarding job opportunities, salary issues especially in developing countries like Pakistan. And when they don’t get enough to live up to the standards, their dreams get shattered, badly.
Apart from this, working for insane hours leading to mental burn out (24-36 hours on call and sometimes even more than this), professional distress, mental exhaustion, shattering of self esteem, demoralization, low sense of personal accomplishment, anxiety, depression, poor social and family life and even suicidal tendencies among students and doctors are some of the bitter realities of this glorious profession.
Medical students and doctors make a group most vulnerable to diseases. Patients really do not know what the doctors had to go through to get to be doctors. Getting hazed, abused and publicly humiliated by patients is commonplace.
So is it not likely for a doctor to become cynical? How can a doctor feel empathy for his/her patients in such circumstances? So the whole system needs a change to make the world a better place.
But apart from all this there is nothing more glorious, exciting and challenging than getting medical education. Serving the humanity and treating the ailments of those who suffer, gives a doctor thousand reasons to smile. There is nothing more precious than seeing a smile on someone’s face when you know that you are the reason behind it.
About the Author: Aqdus Noureen is a final year MBBS student at Army Medical College, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, a campus of National University of Sciences and Technology Islamabad (NUST). Aqdus is interested in the fields of Cardiology and Psychiatry and can be reached at [email protected]
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