Thousands of young students dream of wearing that crisp, white lab coat, sporting a stethoscope, busily bustling about in hospital wards. Few, however, realise the hard work that goes into becoming a man (or woman) of medicine. Read on to find out if you have the mindset or skills required for a medical degree
1 You should have above-average capacity to handle the vast syllabus, the stamina for extensive study
2 In a professional course, students need to keep pace with classroom teaching. This is not something you can afford to leave for the eleventh hour before the examination. Practical classes are too important to be missed
3 The scale of human suffering can often be overwhelming. Do you have the ability to remain focused on work and be compassionate at the same time?
4 Some cases present ethical dilemmas which require professional and morally-sound handling
5 There’s no room for error and slackness. Patients entrust their lives to their doctors
6 You should have strong inter-personal skills to effectively communicate with patients and their families. You may have to attend to patients from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds. Inter-personal skills are important “because you may get rural patients who have a different history, different cultural rites which you should be able to understand so as not to make an error,” says Satendra Singh, member, Medical Education Unit, University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) and GTB Hospital, Delhi. UCMS has an orientation-mentoring programme for students in its fifth year now which uses street and “forum” theatre (in which the audience suggests the script) to develop soft skills
7 Clinical practice is not for the faint-hearted. You have to be very careful to ensure your patients’ mental and physical well-being and handle their families patiently, too.