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

In this letter a senior middle aged govt. doctor is expressing his anguish and frustrations on the increasing incidence of attacks on young doctors. In this letter the doctor directly addresses the public and explains how tough is the professional life a doctor. The aim is to raise awareness against such attacks on doctors.

In this article, we are discussing what it really to be a doctor in India and what are the various problems faced by young doctors and health professionals.

In the last slide, we discussed that it takes more than a decade for a doctor/health professional to be fully qualified as a specialist. By this time the individual is nearing thirties and has already crossed. Barring a few most of the doctors at this point in their career and life go through a professional confusion. They see their other friends who had opted for engineering and management courses doing well for themselves while the doctors are still struggling to make a mark. Every doctor or health professional has

  • dedicated 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)
  • been staying away from home in some remote area with no essential comfort.
  • got transferred from one rural area to another.
  • been carrying out the duty to help others irrespective of whatever situation or emotion a doctor is in.
  • been sacrificing family life and much more

“Why do you think Doctors still keep doing their duty?”

“What can be their motivation?”

I guess you are still trying to comprehend all the points mentioned above.

Maybe you are trying to be in denial that it takes that much efforts and sacrifices to be a health professional.

Perhaps you think they do it all to earn money.

(People tend to forget that not every doctor is a multimillionaire. Many doctors keep working for years with just the core earnings to run their family)

Maybe you think that they chose this life and they must do so.

Whatever be anyone’s thoughts, it doesn’t matter. We doctors do not care what anyone thinks. We do our duty just like a soldier who stands at the border defending the country without bothering who is thinking what.

The only motivation for all the young & old doctors working all over India in harsh conditions is to provide care to the people who need it. To do something good and make a positive impact. They take pride in providing proper treatment.

Finally, the biggest motivation is to be appreciated and respected for their efforts to help unknown people.

(By the way how many people you have helped till today whom you did not even know? Ask yourself)

Money as motivation comes secondary just as a means to run their own family.

And believe me, there was a time when the public (wealthy and poor) respected the doctors. They understood and appreciated the fact that someone is willing to stay in their remote, undeveloped locality to provide them the health care.

But sadly, in my last 15 years of career as a Govt. doctor, I have seen this respect now been kicked into the ground. The appreciation has reduced to none.

The patients do not give a hoot about the efforts a doctor is putting.

They do not care if a physician has left all the comforts of a comfortable private hospital and has decided to help them by being at their remote location.

Whatever a doctor may do, the patient just thinks that we are doing it for money.

And as for money, we have very little compared to the work & sacrifices we do every day.

The appreciation and respect were the only two points driving many doctors like me.

But, those points are long gone.

The New Reality

Do not Scare Away the Young Talented Doctors who want to Help

I may be in the middle of my career but think about the young doctors who have just started their career as physicians. They are eager to serve the public, but they are also the most vulnerable ones.

Violence against doctors

If they keep seeing public attacking doctors, making fun of them and belittling their dignity, then that day won’t be far when no talented young doctor will be willing to join Govt. job or private job and serve people in the remote areas of India. 

And do not expect the established senior doctors who are doing well in the cities to come to your rescue.

Dear public, only a young talented doctor who is willing to make his/her mark as a medical practitioner will be eager to come to a rural or remote area.

So, it is in best interests of the general public to treat such young doctors with respect so that more and more young doctors will be motivated to join the Govt. or private Service and provide health care to remote areas/villages in India.

If doctors keep getting attacked, job or no job, no doctor will be ready to serve the public.

In that way:

At least they will not be attacked.  

At least they will not lose an eye or a hand in the attack

At least they will not suffer the pain or the humiliation.

At least they will be mentally and physically fit to look for their employment in some other safer environment.

Yes, this change is not going to happen overnight. But every change is always gradual.

Neither public or the Govt. should take doctors for granted.

Violence against doctors

I have seen and felt a growing dissent among young doctors.

They question me why to take so much stress, sir? What’s the point when we are scared someone will beat us up anytime within the hospital and go scot-free? What if we damage our limbs in the attack?

I can see the fear creeping into the minds of these young doctors!

But every day they fight this fear, wear their apron and reach the hospital to help the public.

That’s what doctors and health professionals do.

I end this article with an appeal to help and support young doctors.

Before I end this article, let me state some points:

  • I am a Govt. doctor for the past 15 years with vast experience in working in rural areas all over India. I have been to the countryside where you would not even find proper roads. So, I am well experienced and within my capacity to explain the situation.
  • This post is not about blaming anyone. Not the Govt. or the public. This post is to raise awareness for doctors and also in public for the safety of the doctors.
  • When I mention physicians in this article for convenience, I am also referring to allied health professionals who work in the rural area along with the doctors. Without their help, no doctor can even last a single day professionally in remote areas.
  • If you are a young doctor or health professional reading this article, then the aim of the article is to inform you regarding the changing scenarios. It will help you in not forming romantic and false assumptions about being a doctor. It will make you more practical as a doctor, and in the current times, you need to have a reasonable mind to exist and succeed.