Sunday, February 13, 2011

Doctors: The Origins

So, how do people decide that they will become Doctors? Do they even decide that at all? What drives them, what inspires them? Ever wondered? I'll tell you how.

When you first thought about becoming a doctor, you must have been a bespectacled (or not) school kid bent under the weight of your school bag, who wrote an essay about "What do I want to become when I grow up?" (Obviously, everyone wrote that they wanted to become a doctor, it was the noblest profession of all, and the teachers and parents loved it!). However you may have ended up being one of the few who actually remember that essay from your school notebook, and then actually follow it in real life. You actually tried to become a Doctor after you got out of school. You remembered what you'd written.

Or you may have been a teenager who had lots doctors in the family, and it was always understood and assumed that you would carry on the tradition. Hell, you don't even have to think about it! It's in your genes. And, if your family's rich enough, you don't even have to get the marks for it! One way, or another, you find your way into a medical college.

It could have been your parents' biggest dream, you've heard them say, all your life: "Mera beta bada hoke Doctor banega" -  to the neighbour, to the relatives in the U.S., to your Daadima,  to the postman, to the God in that tiny roadside temple, to your friends' mothers, and anyone else who happened to listen. After hearing it being repeated to you for umpteen times everyday for 17 years of your life, how could you even have thought of anything else but to be a Doctor?

Another scenario would be that you had a life altering experience. Your loved one, a family member, a friend, or even a perfect stranger, could have suffered from a disease, borne a loss, could have died. You watched them go through it. There was nothing you could do. You decided, that day, you would change the world. You would not let that happen to someone else. You would become a Doctor.

It could have been that you were sailing through your life, carefree and clueless, as to where you were headed, you know, just enjoying the ride. One fine day, someone (could be absolutely anyone) happened to mention: "Hey, why don't you become a Doctor?" and you sat and wondered, "Yeah, why not?" And so you went about becoming a Doctor.

You could have been one of those hardworking, sincere competitive people. The ones who gave all the exams that came their way, because they loved to. It was their birthright to give exams. So, they ended up giving the entrance test for MBBS, and voila, they got admission (coincidentally or not), and then they puffed out their chests, and proudly, went on to become Doctors, and gave loads and loads more of exams.

Then there are some who are just plain masochistic. They see someone who's a doctor, slogging, working hard all the time, buried in books and patients, with no signs of a life, and they think: "I want that! Looks like so much fun! I'll torture myself, and one day I'll become a Doctor, and it will be awesome!" There goes.

Others get drawn in by the glamour. Their Doctor charges in four digit numbers for a 15 minute consultation, lives in a duplex flat, has bungalows in all the nearby hill stations, plays golf on the weekend, hob-nobs all across the world like he's taking an evening walk, and drives sports cars. Hell, who wouldn't want that?  So they decided to become a Doctor, and get that.

And then there are the few who actually develop an interest in science and medicine, they wonder about the sound of the heart beating through the stethoscope, the feel of the pulse thumping under their fingertips, the cold handle of the scalpel on their palm, the mystery of the shapes they see on the X-ray. They wanted to know more, they wanted to learn more. They were curious, and eager, and excited, and passionate. So, they became Doctors.

These stories are how most Doctors originate, that's how take birth. And then, provided they have the IQ, or the monetary power, they enter a medical college, and begin their journey.

What is my story? Well, I was a confused teenager, who didn't seem to have any particular interest in any vocation. My mom said, "You're intelligent, you should become a Doctor" (like all Moms should tell their kids). A Vocational Guidance Counsellor told me, "You're a lazy bum, incapable of studying for 8-10 hours a day, and slogging. I strongly advise you against becoming a Doctor." I looked at her with hatred, joined coaching classes for the medical entrance test, made it through with difficulty (the difficult part was altering my 'I never study' lifestyle) and managed to get admission into a medical college.

And then, all hell broke loose! But that story is for another post...

So. If you're reading this, and if you're a Doctor, tell me your story. How did you end up becoming a Doctor? What was your origin? Do you know other interesting stories I may have missed out? Or do you not agree that this is how Doctors are born? Let me know.
If you're not a Doctor, tell me what do you think about this. Is this why people should become Doctors? Or are these reasons not good enough? What's your opinion? Let me know.

Till later.


  1. hi dearest! i didn´t know you had this blog too :)

    a friend of mine is studying to be a doctor too. i admire her ´cause even if the career is so hard she knows what she wants and puts a great effort to get it.

    i´m not a science girl... i´ve never been good at that. i prefer letters and art ^^

    hope you become a brilliant doctor one day, m´dear

    thanks for the lovely comments!


  2. I'm an Engineering Student with a medical college in vicinity. I guess they all love their books and tantrums more than us and that's why we are engg. and they are docs.

  3. Blessings ....

    Good question, with the quality of doctor on a steady decline one really have to wonder why. Most doctors today seem to push you in an out like a machine just swipe your healthcard and they are done with you, $250 a pop and they tell you not to talk about more than one ailment.

    The really fabulous ones are few and far between and when you finally land one the wait is an hour plus but you don't mind because you know this one actually listens and value the knowledge you have on yourself.

    Have a great week.

  4. Wanted to be an architect, a pilot, an engineer, a superhero but never a doctor.
    One vocational counselling later, I generated such an awe for medicine & dislike for maths so quickly it surprised me.
    Now, I love it. I've even started looking back at our last exams & thinking, "What a bloody (quite literally gruesome) experience that was! Should jot that down in the blog"

  5. I have always held doctors in high regards..without really looking in to the reasons of their becoming doctors.. for it needs lots of patience , time, intelligence and willingness to make efforts, utter devotion, dedication and intense desire..traits of a soul are must.. if someone becomes a doctor without these.. would be a miracle..

  6. @Stella: Thank you:) I started this blog recently only.

    @Rachit: Not all medical students throw tantrums :P

    @Rhapsody: This is a problem a lot of people are facing everywhere, the so-called dearth of good doctors. I don't know how things work in your country. I have had lot of family members complaining to me as well.
    I'd still like to believe that major part of us Doctors try our best.
    In India, in the government setup, most Doctors are extremely overworked and underpaid. They do what they can with the facilities available.
    In the private setup, Doctors have more control over their workload and tend to give more personal attention to the patients. However, most patients come away feeling they were overcharged. I wish that would change.
    I do agree that not all Doctors can be good, but I still believe the better part of them at least try their best.

  7. Hi! Just realized that your url was different and this blog is a pleasant surprise! Nice post btw. I am not a doctor. But work in a field which is closely associated so get to see a lot of doctors..ones who practice and even ones who have moved away from direct patient care. In India at least, more often it seems like the lure of money and a well settled life are the main reasons why kids(or their parents) dream of becoming doctors. Choosing a career out of passion is a fairly new concept which I'm hoping will stay.. Interesting to know more about you :)

  8. Gave every entrance exam I was eligible for, ended up with quite a few counseling dates which somewhat overlapped and were in different states. Went for MBBS counseling as it was before the engineering one, was bogged down by its speed bumps and never got to attend engineering counseling. Similarly, dissimilar confusions arose amongst the rest of exam results and their deadlines and was left with medicine.

  9. I always wanted to be a watchman but it didn't work out because I keep falling asleep at night. And then I saw Dr Hannibal Lecter.

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  11. I love this post! Especially the masochistic types, pure gold. For me, it was an arranged marriage - it was the safest option, with good money and a near-perfect chance of getting *some* job *some*where in the world, at any point in time in my life. Sure, I had an appreciation for medicine, but that was more just really understanding what it is doctors do and really appreciating their level of dedication and hard work. But I wouldn't call it love for medicine. I don't think you can love something (or someone) unless you 'have' it (or him/her)? So it was only really after starting medicine that I began to see what a wonderful, challenging, beautiful pain in the ass field it was. And even now, 2.5 years into the course, I still have moments of hating it with my every core and cursing my Indian luck in having an arranged marriage with medicine, but then along comes that moment of realisation when you *finally* understand how symptom X works, or when passionate doctors are teaching you about a field they think the sun shines out from, and you smile to yourself inside your head.

    Given a chance, I would probably run away at top speed from medicine (that is, if I don't get kicked out already... I TOTALLY get the altering the 'I never study' lifestyle! Sigh. lol), but as I get older and more able to handle the crazy, crazy demands of a medical course, I would probably come back to do it. And I always think, in that regard, USA has got it down pat!

    Anyways, I am going off on a tangent now but yeah - those are my experiences with medicine! :)

  12. Again, BRILLIANT post! [At this point I feel like a stalker, going through your blog and leaving random comments!]

    For it it was basically a case of Love science> Hate math> Take Bio> Now what> Pre-med of course!

    Plus there was this genetic lineage of parents being docs and the fact that I was that kid who lived from one exam to the next! Then by some strange stroke of fate managed to crack the PMTs (I still have no clue how though :|)

    And its been downhill since then.

    PS: Err.. four digits for a consult, duplex flats.. not in this neck of the woods mate. :O In fact, maybe not anywhere in India except for places like Delhi or Mumbai.

  13. Awesome.. I'm a mixture of three stories on your blog.. Loved it! <3