My daily life is replete with ugly sights, foul smells, and sad sounds. Such is the life of practising doctors. I had accepted this long back as a part of surgical life, and trained myself to disconnect my non-professional life from the feedbacks of life with the sick and suffering.
A very minor taste of this:

My nephew, award-winning car designer Harsha Ravi, lives in a different world, as do many of you.
Here is what he is up to. Take a look.

Is it small wonder, then, that I strongly discourage youngsters from getting into medicine? With so many things to be passionate about and excel in, why choose medicine, with all the tensions, ugliness, etc.? What do you think?
One other thing, too: I consider youngsters like Harsha to be not merely lucky to have lives like this, but also smarter, in that today’s kids know what not to do!

Pics: patient pics mine; others from Harsha’s article.

20 responses to “WORLDS APART!

  1. @ R-Doc: The key thing that drives many people is the possibility (and the potential) to make a change, a noticeable difference to bad situations.

    If the charmed life one leads is already “perfect” in every way, one has to contrive circumstances to try and make a difference somewhere.

    You on the other hand can do make a difference by just doing your day to day job, and what is better, get paid for it.

    We can go away but that does not mean that bad situations do too. Someone has to resolve them. Some do, some don’t/ can’t.

  2. @ R-Doc: Much as I am a closet petrol head, loving hours of Top Gear, engaging in raucous arguments about cars with blokes (yes, usually blokes) and salivating on some marques (one stroll down Bond St on Sunday was quite amusing in itself), I would much rather not do anything that leaves the world worse off.

    In a manner of speaking, the rest of us have to learn to make choices that exhort us to ‘first, do no harm’. πŸ™‚

  3. Every profession has it’s ugly side and one day you can have a chat with your nephew about that. About life behind the glamour.
    I think if you can see the smile on your patient’s face after you do a good job or just see patients live a good life after your work, this is enough. I cannot understand why you want more! It’s far deeper and more fulfilling that the glamour world. Which in any case has its ugly side

  4. Doc, or you could set up a business in Bollywood and have beautiful clients.

  5. Shefaly:
    Most people in the world, including the First and the Third Worlds, live to improve their economic state. In other words, people are mainly obsessed with money (not that I find it morally objectionable). “To make a difference”: would that be the exclusive calling of the driven and the motivated individual?
    I didn’t express any personal wishes. I merely stated that I think, for youngsters, there are far better avenues of professional success than medicine. Not only that, the time-honored medical profession has some serious downsides.
    I suppose every line of work has that, too….
    Huh?! D-uh!

  6. R-Doc: I doubt many hand-to-mouth people would come here to give their opinion, but beyond subsistence, even the poorest (at least where I live) try to do things right by society. πŸ™‚

    Those of us, whose jobs look like an obsession with money (mine is nowhere compared to hedge funders), find contrived means to ‘make a difference’ whereas people in medicine, social service, public services (e.g. fire service) are driven mainly by an innate desire to serve and their jobs give them that chance like a two-fer. The numbers working in the latter (essential but low paid and by no means, guaranteed) kind of jobs far exceed those in the former. I would say therefore just the reverse. Very few are single-mindedly focused on money; most want to do meaningful work.

    And all professions have down-sides, don’t they? In every worthwhile profession, one has to comply with a whole range of guidelines and diktats; one is liable to be sued with much worse punishment in some situations than others (ask Martha Stewart or Ken Lay); one carries responsibility for many people’s livelihoods not just morally but directly.

    Medicine, in my observation, needs tenacity – of the kind that few possess. That may be a deal breaker for most but the innate satisfaction is definitely greater than in many other professions.

    PS: You can see I have been drafting my work related client reports in my sleep πŸ˜‰ hence all the verbosity.

  7. I can understand when you say that a doctor’s daily life is replete with ugly sights, foul smells, and sad sounds. But is that reason enough to dissuade youngsters? I am just curious and not at all judgmental. πŸ™‚

    Have a look at this news story:

    Is the doctor really at fault here by writing cardiologist on legal pad? I thought, being in profession, you would be able to tell me?

  8. Poonam:
    I really don’t think medicine is for anyone other than the incurably romantic (you can now put me in proper perspective!)…if a youngster has other interests, I would exhort him to go in other directions. Simply because unless you have strong passion for this line, you could get sick of things or become another of those money-chasing indifferent doctors.
    In the case you refer to, I don’t see anything amiss. Issues of competence or negligence cannot be commented on because there are no details. Did the father, a Professor, realise his doctor was NOT a cardiologist, and NOT a qualified DM, only after his son died? The fact of his son’s death is unfortunate, but this does not disqualify the ‘cardiologist’.
    I agree that medicine needs tenacity. Thanks for the comments.

  9. Very sad! and On top of that loads of doctors have been sidelined by the System….

    I wanted to become Doctor but I couldn’t score much to get the Seat. For me, The reason for choosing this profession was: Caring for others, academic challenge, high degree of satisfaction in being able to provide support and assistance to someone.

  10. Nobody can disagree with you when you say-//life is replete with ugly sights, foul smells, and sad sounds//. Medicine is considered a noble profession because doctors help us get rid of all those sights, smell and sounds. Not only that, it is hard work as long as you are professionally active. Still if everybody fancies the glamorous careers there would be too much of ugliness around.
    These fancy cars can be owned by many doctors now. I know doctors who are earning crores of Rs plus respect and power in the society. They are capable doctors, maybe a little greedy but still they are helping the society. I guess saving lives sometimes becomes more satisfying than owning a fleet of fancy cars. It is a difficult profession no doubt and there are many doctors who dissuade their children from becoming doctors but can’t imagine a world without doctors.

  11. I’m with doc on this one. Sure, rewards are numerous in the medical field, and I re-live the good memories and wonderful work I’ve been lucky to do. The reality is, however, USA healthcare (sic) is a joke and quite discouraging. No coverage, lack of nursingstaff, primary care docs, resources, predatory pharma, etc etc, etc. has blunted much of the rewards.
    Everything seems to be about cost containment and budgets…
    to the point of intruding on practitioners’ work and decisions.

    If you are lucky enough to have *good* insurance (a rarity), you get everything. Most patients I’ve worked with either were underinsured or have none. Good high tech care but primary care sucks. Lifestyle issues, etc.

    At the point where I’m seriously thinking of a career change — at the very least to an allied health field. System is broken. We do NOT need more care, newer “me too” drugs, but better basic care and utilizing what we all ready have.

    Guess I’m burned out. And have not worked in direct care anymore. Thanks for allowing the rant.

  12. What ugly cars! Those, limbs, on the other hand — what beauty!

  13. Jackie:
    In my professional life, too, there are severe pressures in terms of freedom. In the sense that when I want to do x scan or y procedure on a patient, I am hampered by the fact that the patient has already neared financial exhaustion by the time he has come to me. Now, to work within these limitations, and to take the tension of anything going wrong (and the resultant thousand questions of why this happened, why that was not done, etc.)…
    There are far better ways to earn a living. Unless you are driven by the passion to heal…..

  14. Bancheese:
    Really? I am sure you were referring to the model on display and, if you were not, then I am out on a limb!
    No regrets! Something good must have come out of that!
    I fully appreciate your comment. When your practice consists of the rich and the famous, you generally tend to have a more rewarding career, not merely in financial terms. However, if you have to get your hands dirty, then you have to fight with the financially anemic patient. That is when life becomes more stressful. For hundreds of patients who say some good words about you, there will always come one who will spread ill-will about you because you ruined them financially….
    Life is like that!

  15. While agreeing with you about medicine not being such an attractive option to youngsters in comparison to the other choices they have now, personally I’d still choose to be a doctor or a teacher. When I look back on my life it is the smiles that I have been able to put on people’s faces and the ability to help them out of pain and suffering that would give me fulfilment rather than those fancy cars and five star lifestyle. I so envy you for what you are doing.

  16. Usha:
    Thanks for the comment. I would imagine you to be a person who takes career decisions not for commercial reasons but for value-based ones.

  17. Most of us don’t have the stomach for ugly sights and bleeding sores, soldiering, cleaning filth.
    However if all of us are going to avoid it and even those who do it, like you, bemoan it and prefer to eulogise fancy car designers, what can be said?
    It’s good you are not self righteous about your vocation, but please don’t belittle it over the perks of a fancy job.
    I can live without your nephew’s fancy car, but I can’t live without folks like you who can bail me out when my insides knot up.
    It’s cool and easy to be smart like the kidz of these days, but it takes grit and character to be sincere.

  18. Maami:
    While your comment is kind, it is true. Society does need people to clean the sewers, to bury the dead, and sundry more to do ugly things that are indispensable to it.
    At the same time, I would think a society should give due value to those people (and I don’t mean only doctors), and thereby prevent flight of human capital….

  19. I thought that issue in the story was that doctor was not a qualified cardiologist. I am unsure what Medical Council lays down about it.

  20. What is that rash on her leg?

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