Another of my attempts at giving advice to young medical students. I cannot run away. They want me to. What can one do but oblige……..
Remember……they asked for it.
In the film ‘Pretty woman’ , Richard Gere’s billionaire character asks the character of Julia Roberts, a prostitute:
“What all do you do?”
“I do everything- except….umm…kissing on the mouth.”
If you ask me what I would do, if I were to interact with a group of young people like you, I would say:
“Everything, except give out free advice.”
Free advice especially when unasked, is as welcome as a piece of human excreta in a swimming pool. Repulsive.
But that is what your friends Anoop and Sreejith has asked me to do. I feel totally unequal to the job.
That is because:
-Professionally, I am not very inspiring. Whatever I have achieved, if it is anything, is more a matter of chance than anything else. Follow my path, and you may fall flat on your face.
-Each person is unique. Everyone cannot follow the same path.
-One cannot define success. If you are happy fifteen to twenty years after you pass out, you have succeeded.
-It is impossible to predict what will happen. You are going to play out your life in the future. What advice will suit you ten or twenty years from now? No one can say.
Still, since I am forced to do what I don’t want to do, here goes:
-In the whole of the state of Keralam, most of the big towns and cities in South India and the metro-mega cities all over India, there will be ample supply of doctors and hence, intense competition. Still that is where most of you will want to be, and that wont be easy.
-Small towns in other parts of India, especially North India and rural places all over India except Keralam, will require doctors and specialists. But learning to practice there also wont be easy. Want to do that? Start early. Go there for residency first. Do your MD or MS from there.
-Want to go abroad? Start early. During your student days. Go before doing your PG.
-Specialisation is a double edged sword. The more specialised you are, the more endangered you become.
-The most important skills for a doctor are: interpersonal skills, communication, clinical & procedural skills and knowledge, in that order.
-The most important thing to aspire for is PRACTICE. Developing your own practice. Not practice as in practicing a skill. Start early for that. Patients should come asking for you by name. This will be your sole bargaining point against establishments and commercial interests. If you have a conscience, without a bargaining point, how can you exercise that conscience? You will be at everyone’s mercy.
-Develop a conscience. It may seem a handicap at times, but do it for the patients’ sake.
-Learn about money. It is more important than you think.
-Time is the real luxury. One, who can afford to do whatever they want with their time, is truly successful.
When I crossed that naked arch named ‘Medical College, Trichur’, in the summer of 1990, I was fascinated by the wild jungle that lay beyond it. I could see that there was no boundary wall. Just a place on the Earth. It merged imperceptibly with the surrounding world. One day I had to get out and start my walk through the great forest of life with its lurking tigers and snakes. But beautiful flowers and sights lay before me. How far had I to walk?
Kilometres and kilometres- the distance from Washington Dc to Miami Beach.