'Take up this profession only if you want to serve humanity'

Though every profession, when conducted ethically and with passion, leads to service to the society, there are few areas of work where you can claim to save lives every day. One of those select few, where you are catapulted to the status of God, is the occupation of a doctor.

Several hundred youngsters in our country take up ‘medicine’ every year, knowing well that a long journey of rigorous studies lies ahead; that financial returns, if any, will take time to come; and 15-18 hour shifts, including night-time emergencies, will define their lives from now on. The fear of unwittingly harming someone, considering you are dealing with human lives daily, is obvious as well.

So what makes a significant percentage of every generation take up this noble but tough profession, how it has evolved over the years and what more can be done, Metrolife decided to speak to some doctors and find out on the occasion of National Doctors’ Day.

Most of the doctors laugh off the first question with the reply, “Well, during our time, there were only two professions acceptable to parents: Medical and engineering. We got through the first!”

Dr Ashok Jhingan, diabetologist and chairman, Delhi Diabetes Research Centre (DDRC), particularly, says, “I remember the time when my father, also a doctor, would go around on a bicycle, attending to his patients in Gwalior. It was his dedication and humility which inspired me to follow in his footsteps.”

Probably like most of his counterparts, it was also the suffering of patients he encountered that inspired him to take up the choice of his specialisation. The doctor says, “During the early days of my practice, this young man came to me with diabetes. I recommended some tests and medicines to him, though, he didn’t seem to be serious about his condition. Three days later, I got a call from his wife saying he’s expired. That day I realised that there is so little awareness regarding diabetes and that I, as a doctor, need to do something.”

His Delhi Diabetes Research Centre, today, has over 47,000 registered patients, runs several centres across the city and also conducts the hugely popular ‘Diabetes Health Melas’.

Dr Anil Dhall, director of Cardiology at Delhi Heart & Lung Institute, on the other hand, acquaints us with medical practices in the military and private hospitals and also medical teaching, having experienced all three.

Dr Dhall says, “Serving in the army as a medic is probably the most satisfying experience in the world. You don’t need to worry about the remuneration but only execute your duties as a doctor. The 25 years I spent in the army were a time of great learning for me including the one year I served with the United Nations Organisation in Cambodia.”

“In private hospitals, on the other hand, you have to keep in mind various things besides honing your skills and serving the patients. Nevertheless, working in the private sector is an experience in itself.”

Dr Harshavardhan Hegde, Medical Director, Orthopae-dics, Nova Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital, recommends at least a short stint abroad for every Indian doctor to “broaden their outlook and gain more knowledge.”

“There are several aspects of our work which are not emphasised upon sufficiently in India. These include instances like how to tell a patient who has just returned to consciousness that his leg has been amputated, or an elderly, that he’s now wheelchair-bound forever. In the West, doctors are trained in these important aspects too.”

For those youngsters who may be considering the medical profession, Dr Jhingan
advises, “If you are looking for money, better not look in this direction. Become a doctor
if you want to serve the society. You’ll not find a comparable experience.”

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