Join Medical degree (MBBS) they said. Life is “settled” they said. But little did I know then it’s just another rat race.
I joined MBBS (bachelor in medicine and bachelor in surgery) in the year 2017. Now I’m just in my third year. I’ve written this article to explain how I’ve dealt with the question that I feel any medical student would not be excited to answer and how I’ve coped up personally when I get into thinking too much about my future.
“What after MBBS?”
The most dreaded and difficult question that I face from my aunt to any unknown person (who gets to know I’m a medical student) when I meet them is “what are you planning to do after MBBS?” Or just simply “what after MBBS?” . These situations are more awkward than the viva exam with a strict external examiner.
I’m happy that they are interested in my life and they wish the best for me, but it also made me feel insecure that I didn’t have an answer for them. The question made me feel uncomfortable and that’s when it dawned on me that I had no clue to actually what I wanted to do after MBBS.
How I handled “ what after MBBS ?”
During my “first year” , with absolutely no clinical exposure, when people asked me the dreaded question, I would say obstetrics and gynecology. The fact that helping to bring a newborn into the world excited me at that time. There was this book by Sudha Murty in which she says that her grandmother was the “mother of hundreds of children” (can’t recall the exact words) as she helped women in her village during their delivery. I fancied that privileged title her grandmother had. But after my first clinical rotations I realized it was not my cup of tea.
Then came “Second year”.By the end of this year I had a tiny bit of clinical exposure. I had come to know the general functioning of most of the departments in a hospital.
Now whenever someone would ask me the dreaded question,I’ve learnt to answer it with a big smile and say I’m still exploring and probably add a couple of sentences like “probably this field” or “probably that field”.
Now in “third year” thanks to corona, we have ‘online medical classes’ and my clinical exposure has not grown much. I am trying to explore information that I can through the internet which has its both positive and negative sides.
Positive side -I get to see a wide range of people from all over the world, talking on how they face their life as a medical student and share their experiences.
Negative side – I can’t decide or compare my future only with that information out there on the internet as that person and I don’t have the same life.
They have different interests, priorities , workplace environment , strengths, weaknesses etc.
All i should do is take their suggestions into consideration and plan my future accordingly.
“Which medical specialty is right for me ?” phase
Being a doctor in the 21st century is not the same as being a doctor in the 20th century . the advancements in the field of medicine is so huge and unpredictable that it’s confusing on what to take or choose after MBBS.
And being “just an MBBS doctor” is not enough nowadays. Even if it is true that the knowledge you gain is huge during this course, it’s becoming difficult for the society to accept you as a “good” doctor. Another thing to be considered is that it’s not like we are the only doctors around. There are many medical colleges opening in the country and the number of medical students graduating every year is increasing. Hence lots of competition.
So given all these circumstances a student will start to plan what to do : MS or MD after MBBS. Along with questions like
- which will they be good at?
- Which speciality is in most demand today or will be in the future? and of course
- which will be the highest paid speciality? .
The choosing part itself takes forever.
And then sadly sometimes it ends up to what rank we get in our NEET PG (or NEXT ?) and other entrance exams in India or exams for forigen postgraduate medical degree . According to the rank and colleges we get in our counseling , we’ll have to choose from those. Or drop a year, prepare and give the test again.
It doesn’t stop with post graduation . Then we are expected to do a super speciality course and then various fellowships programs.
All these thought processes just mess with our heads big time.
Other career options after MBBS
This is the rat race I was talking about. Thinking about it I’ve realized , It’s important to understand that doing MS or MD after MBBS is not the only option nowadays. We have lots of other options too, like
- work for sometime– there are private hospitals and government services that employ only MBBS graduates.
- give civil service examinations – get posted as IAS/ IRS/ IFS/ IPS for those who are not interested in treating patients (a lot are choosing this nowadays )
- do administration courses– that would help you get employed for managing big hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals etc.
- get into research field- Research field is still an upcoming thing in India. This field is highly encouraged in well known institutions like AIIMS , JIPMER, CMC Vellore, ICMR(Indian Council for Medical Research),St. John’s Research institute,PGI, NIMHANS, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (TIFR) etc.
Some options to be considered too!
“Don’t work too hard for a job that can replace you 5 mins after you drop dead”
An important thing to remember , we’ve chosen a career where we are going to spend most of our time trying to make others’ lives better. It’s a very time demanding job.Its a job where we have to give our everything , be the best we can be.
But we should also know when to stop for a break and take care of ourselves, which is better for the long run.
- Travel– a person learns a lot from their travel experience. it’s amazing how much there is to know that you can’t always get from google or your textbooks.
- Work on your Health. Both mental and physical- having a balanced physical and mental health is important and greatly defines how you succeed in your field
- Spend some time for your hobby– spending time on other things to make you happy is important , a break from the monotony
- Do some social service, not necessarily medical- helps you to be grounded i nature and you learn to appreciate life and how it should not be taken for granted
There can be another argument – “how can we ‘waste’ our ‘prime’ time on these things.?”
It can seem unimportant or not fruitful. But trust me I’ve come to believe they do play an important and a big role in our lives. These activities help you calm your mind and help you make clear decisions regarding your future and how YOU want it to be and NOT what others will like it to be.When you make clear decisions that you are confident in, nothing can stop you from achieving it.
Life is too short to be spent on thinking over opportunities missed or mistakes done in the past. But guess what it’s meant to be. We gotta learn to deal with it and move on
We’ve entered a profession in which people entrust their lives to us. Therefore we are obliged to give our best. It’s important to learn for the patient you are going to treat, not for your exams. The knowledge you gain that way will definitely help you succeed in your competitive tests.
At the end your success as a doctor (or any other profession as a matter of fact) depends on the quality of the work you deliver rather than how many degrees you have after your name.