The Reality of Being a Doctor in India – Only the Hard Facts & Truth




If you are a young budding doctor, then let me warn you from the beginning that this post will open up many bare realities of being a doctor or health professional in India. This might shatter many romantic ideas that you may be having by bringing practicality to them.

But this post will also help you in preparing yourself for the times ahead that you are going to face as a doctor or a health professional in the second largest populated country in the world.

Now that I have given you the heads up let’s get in the article.

I grew up in an environment where many of my relatives are doctors. Since my school days, I used to hear that being a doctor is the best profession. You get to heal people, you get heaps of respect, and in the process, you also make adequate money.

Now, what is there not to like about this explanation? I was hooked on it. From that day, I devoted all my youth in completing all the tasks that would make me a perfect doctor. I will also admit that I am idealistic and saw this profession as a tool to help people.

At present, I am in my late forties, and I have been working as a Govt. Doctor for the past 15 years. In all these years I have seen the profession grow and evolve from a very close proximity. I am still part of that system.

This article is also in response to the ever increasing incidences of attacks on doctors and health professionals by the public/mob. In the last recorded incidence, a young Senior Resident was attacked by a group of patient relatives. In the assault, the young doctor lost the vision in one of his eyes and was in ICU for days. Now the young doctor feels humiliated and unprotected. Via this post, I am also trying to express his anguish and frustration like many other doctors.

I am a physician for last 15 years working in rural areas. I have dedicated my entire youth and middle age for the service to the poor just like many other doctors. 

But seeing how the physicians in the Govt. sector, as well as private sector, are being treated, I feel helpless.

I am an ordinary person who is trying to do his best to make this world a little better. But I feel helpless seeing the problems and dangers our young doctors are facing. Through this article, I want to mention the sacrifices that a doctor does so that he can be of use to the general public. 

But at the same time, we do not want their abuses and bricks or sticks that give us broken nose, broken leg, broken hand and most importantly a broken spirit.

All the doctors want in return is respect, appreciation & dignity.

I hope that if a citizen is reading this letter, then, he/she would say good thanks to the doctor and pledge to keep him/her safe.

What does it take to be a Doctor or a Health Professional in India?

Agree or not India is a country of poor. There are millions of people devoid of basic education and medical care. At the same time, due to an ever increasing population, the strain on the resources is extreme. This high pressure situation is also applicable to the process of being a doctor in India. We doctors know it, but let us state the points for the general public to know:

  • To be a doctor a student preferably needs to get a govt. or private medical/dental/health professional seat. (by clearing tough exams like NEET)
  • One needs to get a rank out of millions of students trying for it. If you do get a rank then welcome to the medical college. Many students in their dreams to be a doctor attempt the exams for 4 to 5 years and then make the exams. So, before even starting their education half of their youth is over.
  • After entering the college begins the grueling five years of books, patients & exams. In a govt. Medical college the average OPD per day will be around 5000 minima. So, there is not even the time to have some proper fun.
  • By the time a medical student reaches the final year, he/she would be working minimum 12 hours a day (excluding the classes and exam preparation). 

 

    • Many professionals in other professions will claim that they also work for 12 hours or more. But imagine working this long for people who are ill & emotional and also imagine trying to reduce their pain- anxiety. On top of that majority of these people will be poor and illiterate. A medico not only needs to treat them but also explain them everything about disease and medicine. The sick patients have to be told when and how to take the medication? Imagine doing this counseling for thousands of patients every week. That is more than the number of calls a BPO/Call center worker takes in a whole month.

  • Once the young doctor reaches houseman ship, many might think things will get easier! But on the contrary, it gets even harder. The responsibility increases ten times more. The young intern is bombarded with cases in all the departments he/she is posted. It’s true that it is the time to learn and most of the interns take up the challenge to improve their skills of diagnosis and treatment. 
  • In all these efforts, the medico is now nearing 30, and he/she still needs to plan the career.

  • Then starts another herculean effort to crack the entrance exam for post graduation. Among thousands of medicos, dental surgeons, and health professionals, only 2 % will get an entry into Govt. post graduation. 

 

    • Once you gain entry into post graduation, then the game just gets more intense. During my post graduation days, I had worked for around 15 hours every day including night shift. The logic that went around was being a PG it was your duty. Pay was minimal, but till that time there was no monetary motivation for most of the doctors. It was the will to do some good and being appreciated/respected for your efforts.

  • Then the doctor (PG or General practitioner) finally gets into the professional career as a physician in a Govt. or Private sector. All the recruits (who are also known as Senior Residents) are drafted to some of the poorest and remote areas you can think of. Places where it is a luxury to find electricity, water or even a toilet. But the young doctor adapts to those conditions and starts providing his/her services to the poor. Can you please tell me how many so called engineers, or other professionals go to these rural areas at the beginning of their career? Most of them just want an excellent salary package or go abroad. Where is their social responsibility? Don’t they have any responsibility towards India? Is working to help the poor section in India only the responsibility of doctors and few other individuals? 
  • In all these years at the Govt. or Private set up the doctors/dental surgeons and health professionals are always at risk of contracting diseases like tuberculosis / HIV from patients. Why? Because of the enormous number of patients every day it is simply not possible to carry out screening tests and proper medical history for every patient. If you get posted in the rural area, then there are no kits or facilities to do these tests. You need to treat the patient putting yourself at risk.
  • The doctor to patient ratio is dismal. As per official statistics, for every 5000 patients,  there is one doctor/health professional. Can you even begin to imagine the workload on the doctors/health professionals? 
  • What is the pay for all these life long efforts? After all, the doctor also needs some dignity and finance to run his family. The salary is average that will keep increasing with experience. But it is nowhere near his/her friends who are earning five times more working half the time at some air conditioned MNC office.

So, in spite of:

  • All the long years of studying (around 14 years in total),
  • Insufficient pay in comparison to others & difficult conditions to work in (doctors are most susceptible to contract infectious diseases from patients)
  • Staying away from home in some remote area with no essential comfort.
  • Getting transferred from one rural area to another.
  • Carrying out duty to help others irrespective of whatever situation or emotion a doctor is in.
  • Sacrificing family life.
The young doctor is still struggling to make a proper life for himself/herself.

The article continues in the next slide. 

In the next slide, we are going to raise some direct questions and is it worth to be doctor in a country like India




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