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Cut to cure

They wield the scalpel to provide much-needed succour to the suffering… Pranab Ghosh walks into an OT to check out the world of the surgeon.

education Updated: Apr 24, 2012 16:50 IST
Pranab Ghosh

A birthmark (congenital naevus), gave Sumit Sharma, 28, of Madhya Pradesh, a strangely unnatural look. The large black mark covered a substantial part of the left side of his face. Conscious of the stares and the remarks which followed him all the way through school, Sharma didn't go to college and suffered from acute depression. He became a social outcast and blamed his mother for the 'deformity'. Today that mark is no more and he's happy. Happy because he feels ready to face the world... and get married too! Surgery, plastic surgery to be precise, did the trick. "In plastic surgery (plastikos means to mould) we can mould any disfigured part, and give anyone suffering from low self-esteem a new lease of life," says Dr Charu Sharma, 36, recipient of the Rajdhani Ratna and Mahila Gaurav Award, who operated on Sharma.

"Surgery has many branches, namely plastic surgery, neuro-surgery, cardio thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, urology, endocrine surgery and cancer surgery, gastro intestinal surgery. But the mother specialty is general surgery, which besides being a requirement for superspeciality training is a specialty in its own right," points out Dr V K Malik, Vice Chairman, Department of Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi.

The doctor patient ratio in India lacks the ideal balance. With 1500 to 2000 surgeons passing out every year the number of professionals, seemingly adequate, is not enough as the distribution of skilled manpower is uneven, resulting in patients travelling to the metros and mini metros for obtaining quality surgical care, feels Dr Malik."The distribution is skewed with rural areas and distant towns not having adequate facilities, " adds Dr Malik.

It, however, takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a surgeon. " To reach the top of the ladder you have to keep achieving till you retire because a surgeon learns something new in each and every day of his career ," says Dr Vivek Sabharwal, a laparoscopic surgeon who runs his own nursing home.

However, to become a surgeon of repute you need to stay ethical, points out Dr Deep Goel, Head, Surgical Specialities, Artemis Health Institute.

What is it about?
It's a long hard slog before you can get to be called a surgeon (a specialist with the skills to cut open the body and operate). Sushruta is believed to be the first to practice surgery in ancient India. Thousands of years ago surgical instruments were made of stone and surgeries were done without anaesthesia with large incisions, leading to acute agony for the patient. Thank God for modern times - now that we have advanced instruments made of stainless steel and newer sterilisation techniques and various forms of anaesthesia. All of these cause minimal pain and fewer chances of infection, thus preventing post-op complications. Minimal invasive techniques have been developed, which lead to smaller scars, less post-op pain and early recovery. In short, we can say that surgery has been transformed from a painful experience to one bringing painless cure. Today, you can smile your way to the OT.

Clock Work
7.30 am: Breakfast
8.30 am: Day at hospital/clinic begins
9 am to 3.30 pm: Does surgery
4 pm to 7 pm: Clinics and consultancy
7.30 pm: Checks e-mails/ answers queries
8.30 pm: Reaches home. Helps son with studies.

The Payoff
MBBS and post graduation in general surgery is the basic requirement to practice surgery in India. The monthly salary (net) is:

Internship: Rs 2000
Junior residency: Rs 20,000
Junior residency (PG training): Rs 22,000
Senior residency (Post degree training): Rs 40,000
Associate consultant: Rs 60,000
Consultant: Sky is the limit

Skills
Motivation and passion to heal the sick and diseased

Selfless dedication and ability to put the patient's interest above everything

Tenacity to plough in long hours, as long as 24 to 36 at a stretch

Consistently high academic record

Average motor skills with a pair of steady hands. Gross tremor or handicap affecting the use of hand is ruled out.

How do i get there?
Step I : Biology in plus-two. Medical entrance exam after class XII. Those who pass study for an MBBS degree. After MBBS...

Step II: Qualify the PG entrance exam

Step III: Qualify for MS in surgery

Step IV : Training as senior resident

Step V: Super-specialisation - MCh

Six-years of training makes you a surgeon. At the end of the training you can opt for a government job or settle for private practice.

Institutes & URLs
All India Institute of Medical Science(AIIMS); www.aiims.edu/

Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh; www.pgimer.nic.in/

Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore; cmch-vellore.edu/t_main.asp

Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi;ww.mamc.ac/in

n Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI), Lucknow;www.sgpgi.ac.in/

JIPMER Pondicherry;www.jipmer.edu/

King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM), Mumbai;www.kem.edu/

Pros & Cons
Immense satisfaction when you save a life

Social status

High remuneration

Growth prospect

Helplessness in front of inevitable death

Long hours mean little or no social life

Stress

Lack of facilities in rural area