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Choice of medicine as a profession
Posted Date: 15-Jul-2011
Dr. Ajay George Akkara
Many of our students take ill informed decisions regarding their choice of career. This has disastrous results for the candidate as well as for the society. In this article I touch upon this malaise in the field of medicine
In our country most of the students are forced to choose their life time profession at the tender age of 17. At this age the average middle class student has very limited idea about the options available to him. Also the structure of academics and society is such that it is difficult to change ones profession after having chosen it. This leads to students choosing their profession based on biased opinions or fanciful thinking. This sort of selection process for one's life's calling is nowhere more disastrous than in the field of medicine.
Challenges in Medical Profession
A career in medicine means exposure to disease, disability and death day in and day out. This takes an immense psychological and emotional toll on the physician. The voluminous study output required, the excruciating examination process, the long incubation period required before one can be financially independent and the constant pressure to deliver without any margin for error can be very frustrating to any candidate pursuing this profession, leave alone students without aptitude or motivation for the branch.
I find that most of the common motivations for taking medicine are: (1) The parent/s are doctors with a flourishing practice which they need to continue (2) Dream of quick money which is reinforced by examples of successful practitioners who seem to be minting money (3) For a better social status. This is especially true for girls who aspire to improve their prospects in the marriage market by becoming a doctor (4) Fulfillment of parental aspirations. When students take up the branch with misplaced motivations and when they find things not panning out as they had thought, they succumb to mediocrity with disastrous results to themselves in particular and the society in general.
There are two aspects to this scenario where students take up medicine without careful consideration. One is the toll taken on their own psyche which results in unpleasant outcomes. Almost every batch in every medical college has at least one student who has committed or attempted suicide when they could not take the pressure of academic performance. The other more disturbing outcome from the point of view of the society is the 'production' of doctors with inadequate skill and training who are only interested in making a quick buck to compensate for the time and money they have invested in becoming a doctor.
One solution to this problem could be institution of a compulsory aptitude test other than the qualifying test for admission into medical colleges. Also there should be provision for lateral migration into another course at the end of say one year in the medical college for students who find that they cannot cope with the required pulls and pressures of medicine. Such a migration if can be managed without loss of academic time and without monetary loss to the candidate would motivate students to take a real hard look at continuing in a stream which they have realized that they have no aptitude or liking but are still continuing due to extraneous pressures.
Whatever be the solution, it is high time that serious thought be given by regulatory authorities to this malaise which is slowly but surely destroying the innards of the medical profession in our country.
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