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Friday, March 14, 2014

Open Letter to Every Medicine Graduate

Hello Doctors!

So little is said or written about you. They ask why should we respect you ? What have you done differently than the million others who have also dreamed a dream, worked toward it and made considerable progress in said direction by studying what was to be studied.
But here's the little difference.

When we were busy enjoying after our tenth boards, my friends who aspired to be doctors, started giving entrances for coaching classes which would train them to crack PMT. They paid a hefty fee once they got through and while we were still deliberating the pros and cons of humanities and commerce, they started balancing schoolwork and tuition torture. I call the latter a torture for it was no mean deal to attend 6 hours of school, then 4 hours of coaching and then spend endless hours revising the coursework of both. They kept up with countless tests and exams at both fronts.

When we were rebelling against our parents and discovering the art of 'partying out late', they were developing the skill of 'surviving with minimal sleep'.

They skipped parties, birthdays, made no fuss about new year and went through their last years of school life with nothing to show for except a tiring routine of shuttling between school, tuition and home, all the time surrounded by papers, notes and mnemonics.

The ordeal did not end for them after the 12th boards either. That's when the real test began - medical entrances. When we went for long vacations with family or friends, they slogged still for prelims, mains and a variety of state entrances. There were crash courses to attend, revisions to do and examinations to crack.

For those lucky few who cleared in their first attempt came the first breath of relief. For those who didn't, came tears, disappointment and a grit to do better. They decided to drop year after year until they made it through or had no chances left.

We embarked upon colleges together. And while we discovered freedom, they discovered libraries. They learnt how to dissect a human body, how to saw the human skull, how to identify one microbe from the other. While we were making boyfriends and having our first kisses, they were having their first visits to the hospital.

Alliances were formed in both worlds. One for hanging out and chilling, other for studying and excelling. When the pressure got too much, the med students decided to blow off some steam by a drink or two or ten (for well, they always did have the capacity for a little extra, a little more - be it work or play).

As we entered our final year of independence, they were still just halfway through grad school. They hadn't lost sight of their aim. When we got our degrees, they continued to work alongside senior doctors, learning how to cure patients. Their day became 72 hour long for that's how long an average intern went without sleep in one stretch of duty. They got little to no sleep using the spare minutes to read a little more, grasp something they hadn't before. And finally when we took an year off, to 'think about our future' they entered their last phase of the 5-and-a-half-year-long-drill.

And, when some of us started working for our fathers, others for some little pay job, they got their license to kill.

So why do we not write about them ? Why don't we award them medals like soldiers who fight wars for us ? They are no less. They are fighters. Survivors. Warriors.

We're still clueless, we're still lost. We still don't know where our life is headed. They on the other hand, are saving lives. So next time you come across a doctor and feel life is unfair because his paycheck is infinitely more than yours, know that his education did not halt after those 5 odd years. The doctor continued to specialise, and super specialise - all so that he could be an expert in the field of treatment. He is a walking, talking superman. She is a fairy godmother, an angel. They work for us, all day, everyday. 24/7, no excuses.

For all your dedication and diligence, I thank you doctors. I can place my life in your hands, knowing you've done your homework and done it well. You will do all it takes to make me better.

You're my god. The one I can see, feel and touch. The god who I go to when I want a miracle. The god I pray to when a loved one has no hope left. You're my god on earth, doc. Thank you.

PS: Dedicated to Dr. Abhinav Ratogi and Dr. Shail Jalan - doctors who taught me the difference between passion and indifference.

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