Medicine, no longer a career choice?
I have known Dr S since her school days. She passed her MBBS and internship four years back. I remember the time when she came to see me with her intention to become a doctor,having secured good marks in her PUC. I had tried then to counsel her against her choice by giving the true picture of what awaits a young doctor in this country, especially a woman doctor. She was adamant and duly proceeded to get a seat in the government quota in one of the medical colleges that have mushroomed in and around Bangalore. She proudly said after she got a seat that it was in government quota and not in management quota which meant bought seats and generally of inferior quality. I knew of this college's unsavoury reputation, but prudently kept quiet.
Now she has come to see me, nearly seven years later. Instead of a sprightly and healthy 18 year old young woman, I was seeing an obese woman with features of hypothyroidism. I asked her where is she working and what has brought her to me.
She said.' uncle, I am not working full time, I am preparing for yet another NEET! This will be my last attempt. If I don't make it, then that will be the end for me' She was on the verge of breaking down. Long experience has taught me, that in such situations, the best way to show empathy is to remain silent. After a while, she continued, 'I should have followed your advice, this profession is not for me. I am earning 20,000 Rs working night shift and my sister who is younger to me is earning 1,50,000 working as a software engineer. She is also getting married in six months.' another pause and she continued, 'as you can see, I am also unwell, I went to Dr.... and she has put me on hormone pills and it has made me put on more weight' her torrent of misery stopped at last.
Here, with this young woman I was facing two problems. One is physical and the other is emotional.
Handling the physical part was lesser of the two problems,Though both were likely to be interlinked.
It took me more than an hour to counsel her that passing NEET is not the end all of one's life and the importance of regular exercise and managing her diet and taking care of her body and also her mind. And how earning money and comparing her with her younger sister will lead to mental illness and how improper such comparisons are.
She went with advice to get her thyroid profile, blood sugar and an ultrasound scan to exclude PCOS [Polycystic ovarian syndrome]
When she went she appeared to be in a better frame of mind than when she came in to see me.
She is an example of the fate and uncertain future many young doctors in our country are facing now.