I am Dr PV Siddhartha, senior resident at the department of orthopaedics, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi. I did my MBBS from Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore and followed it up with MS (orthopaedics) at Dr RML Hospital.
I have always wanted to learn more about the functioning of the human body. I was a very good biology student. My initial days while pursuing MBBS were challenging, with subjects like anatomy in the first year being slightly difficult to cope with since it was different from what we learnt in school. This is also the period where most of us leave home and that makes it all the more difficult. Once settled in though, things begin to fall into place. Students are usually worried about the long duration of the course of more than five years, but the silver lining is that you make a lot of friends, and some of the bonds last a lifetime.
MBBS is a regular graduation programme with hospital postings built into the eight-to-five routine. A one-year internship follows in which we are posted in each department for a specified period of time and learn the nitty-gritties of every specialty. This year is crucial in deciding what specialty suits us.
Postgraduation is a different ball game altogether. The first year in the PG programme is the most rigorous, with long hours, on-call duties and strenuous work. Typically, PGs in the MS (ortho) programme and other surgical specialties have two weekly emergency shifts of 24 to 32 hours. They are on call 24X7 in case of any problem in the wards or elsewhere. Routine OT also runs twice weekly, as do the OPDs. All this translates into a hectic lifestyle with sleepless nights, but we continuously discover, learn new procedures and develop new skills and this is by far the most exciting time of our medical careers. We learn on the job, consult seniors and read on our own as well. Since there is only one exam at the end of the three-year MS course, the syllabus is immense.
Senior residency is much more relaxed vis-a-vis postgraduation. We have 24-hour shifts once or twice a week with the other days being the usual nine to five. Research is a thrust area in the medical field. The challenge is updating one’s knowledge while working long hours and contributing to research and publications as much as possible. Balancing personal and professional life is also a challenge in this busy lifestyle. Each patient that we take care of teaches us something new. Empathy and compassion are integral parts of every doctor’s psyche and go a long way in reassuring the patient. That moment when a patient with multiple fractures recovers after surgery and comes for a follow-up, walking into the OPD, is the most fulfilling.
For an aspirant, being a hard worker is very important. More than brilliance, students who have a good work ethic and move ahead steadily do better in the medical profession. A student who studies regularly and stays in touch with the currricula will do much better than the one who procrastinates and then, towards the end, spends sleepless nights. If you aspire to become a doctor, be mentally ready to work hard and make sacrifices in other spheres of life.
As told to Gauri Kohli