Friday, December 27, 2013

The Business of Saving Lives

Here I am, 8 months into my internship, waking up every day to new challenges, challenges where peoples lives are at stake, challenges which are a test of my personality. Have I risen to these Challenges? I believe i have. The work I do has  never failed to excite me and I think its my enthusiasm coupled with a  borderline impulsive/obsessive attitude that keeps me going, day after day after day. I am a small but essential part of Gandhi Hospital and it is an opportunity that I have rightfully earned for myself. I take great pride in being in the position that I am in now  , a feeling that gets reinforced every time I interact with  a patient. And these challenges I keep mentioning - they teach me new things about myself every day. So what else could I want more?, seems right about perfect doesn't it? Well if you thought so, then you're certainly not part of this profession, but if you're grinning to yourself thinking "yeah, right!", then wipe that smirk off your face because you, my friend, are in the same rickety  boat as I am.

I try to shut off the pain and worries and just live the moment as it presents itself.  I have many passions which I have adamantly refused to let go off and still actively indulge myself in. I think it's fine to live in the now, but the thing  about now is, there’s  another one tomorrow. I need  to start making them count. I’ve never been the guy who has had life handed to him on a silver platter, and I consider myself fortunate for that.  We chose the path less travelled  and that obviously has consequences. But what compounds these, making them worse than they ever were,  are the times we live in. If you are an outsider who believes doctors are duty-bound to serve in the downtrodden villages of this country, then you, Sir, are gravely mistaken. As a matter of fact, you’ll be surprised to note that our “Duties” are no different from yours. I hate to break it to you, but we aren’t the miracle virgin births. You see, we are born into the same kind of families you were born into and have the same responsibility towards them that you do. It would be foolish to argue otherwise.

A couple of months from now, I will be joining a rat race, for the second time in my life and certainly not the last time. This scenario does not include all my colleagues though, as some of them are lucky and smart enough to get out of this system and there’s the other rotten kind who have paid their way into the profession right from  the very beginning. I have a mouthful for the latter, but personal ideologies aside, I am here to talk about the crisis that the vast majority of us are facing now. Borrowing from the “Save the Doctors” Campaign, I want to talk to you about the crisis that will determine our future as a country. After about 6 rigorous years of medical college, We compete with 38,000 other medical students for a meager  12,000 post graduate seats, a quarter of which I am eligible for and about 1 percent of which remotely interest me.  What this means is that for every single post graduate seat that is available , a thousand young hopeful doctors will walk away empty handed, their efforts amounting to nothing. We will now spend the next year, or two years or even three years in a coaching class room or a dusty library, preparing for another chance at fulfilling our dreams. Some of us will never see this dream come true, and we will accept defeat.  As I write this, I feel overwhelmed by a fear of failure and  I feel stranded. I feel let down by my country, the country I stand to serve for the rest of my life.  This is the cost of ambition. These are the times we live in.

E. Rajkumar,