Life of a medicine student – Part 1

I decided to do this topic on my sister’s insistence. She is in her second year of medicine currently and given her lack of access to internet and busy schedule that involves dissecting bodies, going to rural homes and collecting information regarding toilet sizes and shouting slogans for better stipends among other things, I decided to take it upon myself to talk about a few things that have been on my mind for quite sometime now.

It is a universal truth that the competition when it comes to engineering and medicine exams is the most intense in Andhra Pradesh. At least for aspiring engineers, the options are plenty. The same cannot be said about Medicine aspirants. First, you have to get a seat in a Government college because they are the best. Why? Will get to this a little later. Second, because the intake per batch is around 150 students in a govt. college and there are around 5 really good ones around, the seats up for grabs are approximately 750. Now, if you consider the 1001 varieties of reservations that we have, the number becomes less and less pretty. Also, if one does want to try out for national exams like AIIMS and JIPMER, one has to be exceptionally brilliant because after all the quota math is done, the seats available are in single digit. Thus, for an aspiring medico in AP, life is like a pressure cooker. These were facts my sister was aware of before she chose biology, and she worked her butt off to do well in EAMCET. And she did do very well. She got a rank below 200 which would have been great for her to get into either OU or Gandhi. But, in our lovely state we also have region wise reservation. So, her rank was not enough for even Gandhi while people who got 300+ ranks but belonged to this region, got it. It was tough for my sister to accept this because in spite of securing a good rank, she could not study in a college of her choice because of factors beyond her control. Nevertheless, it was a blessing in disguise because had she studied in Hyderabad, given the Telangana agitation and the effect it had on students, I am sure she would have regretted her decision. She got into AMC – Andhra Medical college in Vizag which is a good college in a good city and is aligned to KGH – King George Hospital, one of the oldest and most well known government hospitals in Andhra Pradesh.

So, filled with excitement, my sister went into AMC knowing that it would not be as comfortable as say,my college- IIITH but hoping that her home for the next 5 odd years would look better than an abandoned old shack. Trust me, the hostels and facilities are bad in these colleges. Then what makes these government colleges the first choice for students? They do not have great infrastructure, the hostels are terrible and the facilities are substandard. Well, apparently these are not the deciding factors when it comes to medical colleges. The two most important factors are number of dead bodies and the variety of medical cases. Government hospitals provide absolutely free treatment. Hence, the number of people coming in is huge. Also, a majority of private hospitals do not take in ‘rare’ cases. Which explains why hospitals like KGH, Osmania and Gandhi are overflowing with patients. Most of them poor. Thus, there is a lot to learn for medicine students who have access to all this. 5-10 students dissecting one body is a privilege, my sister says. No wonder then that she feels that in spite of the bad hostels and food, it was the best decision of her life to study at AMC.

I understand why government colleges are badly maintained. The fees are minimal and like in any government set-up, there is a huge process to follow before any change can be implemented. But, can’t a proper hostel with adequate security and water supply be constructed? Medical students have been taken for granted. They work hard day in, day out and by the time they are in their 3rd, 4th years they are already doing lot of tangible work in the hospitals. I am sure government funding must be available but if it is not sufficient, then please stop giving permission for newer colleges. Improve the conditions in existing ones. We do not need another XYZ Reddy College of Engineering. We need quality doctors who do not run away to foreign countries because they are frustrated with the system in place.

My sister tells me about how there are doctors who work hard in the hospital and then go back to their private clinic and work there. The salaries are not enough. A house surgeon who is on 24×7 duty, does not even have snacks privileges. Their stipend per month is 7500. And there are times when they do not get that for months at a stretch. Which explains why there are so many dharnas and protests by medicos. They are just fighting for their rights. Some shocking realities

– Since there is such a severe shortage of wheelchairs, plastic chairs have been put on planks with wheels to bring in patients. What makes matters worse is that ward boys/girls and attendants steal those chairs and sell them off for some quick cash.

– There have been occasions when x-rays could not be done because of lack of water!

– Lot of pregnant women come in to the hospital just when they are in labour. They do not have reports or documents about their medical history with them. The hospital cannot turn anyone away. Hence, they are taken into the maternity ward and prepared for delivery. if complications arise and something wrong happens, the relatives jump on the doctors and accuse them of bad treatment. Lot of junior doctors have been beaten up at government hospitals. Also, these women do not get a HIV test done. Imagine the risk at which the doctor is while conducting an operation.

– Almost all HIV+ patients come to government hospitals. Since, students need to be aware of the entire case, they are forced to ask questions regarding the nature of their lifestyle. This actually turns out to be very difficult since most of the cases involve infidelity and the spouse is unaware.

– The students are discouraged from wearing gloves while examination of some patients since these patients do not like being touched with gloves and refuse to co-operate.

– Even last referrals and terminally ill patients are taken in without any questions asked. And when the patient does die, it adds up to the count of deaths in government hospital!

– Because of lack of beds and space, some patients get their own mattresses and lay them on the floors. It becomes very difficult to maintain hygiene and cleanliness with so many people around.

– As requirements of a particular course, students are asked to visit slums and educate its residents about cleanliness, sanitation etc. Most of the times, doors have been slammed on the faces of the medicos because the people there do not see the government doing anything to improve the living standards. Yet, the students try their best to enter the houses and talk to the people.

– During one such visit, my sister was explaining to a couple that it is better if a guy gets vasectomy done instead of asking his wife to get operated for birth control because a woman’s system is complicated and she tried to dispel the myths surrounding this procedure. The man almost hit my sister asking her not to brainwash his wife !!

Compared to my college life, this sounds like hell. Yes, students in medical colleges do have fun. They do go to movies and hang out in cafes and go on trips. But, the circumstances and conditions in the government colleges and hospitals are so tough that sometimes, having fun does not seem that important. I wish something could be done about it though. The life of a medical student is tough. Very very tough. Even without the bad hostels and facilities, it is hard and demanding. Then why make it tougher by denying them proper water supply and cleanliness and security. The conditions are appalling to say the least. I could have never survived in an environment like this and I have tremendous respect for all these students who work so hard. I just hope that more funding is provided to these institutions and the administration wakes up and makes use of it. Medicine is a noble profession and to stop it from getting any more commercial, the first step is to gain the trust of the students and doctors working in the government organizations.

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31 Responses to Life of a medicine student – Part 1

  1. Rohit says:

    Very true.

    But isn’t it the same case with almost every govt college? Bad maintenance of hostels, bad food, very less fees, student politics, gangs, hard working students, not-so-hard working students, uninterested faculty, not-so-sufficient resources, abundant funds that are wasted ???

    Its the same everywhere.. even in govt hospitals where the amount of pay is not proportional to the work done.. either its high or its very low. IMHO it is due to the taken-for-granted nature of public towards govt. Govt is a org in India which doesnt need profit, it is here not for assisting but for providing service to public. Essentially.. things doesnt change with this nature.

    And yes I do have utmost respect towards medicos for their dedication but with more responsibility and more interest, they can bring the much needed change to their colleges. It requires patience, persistence and creativity.. not strikes and dharnas which dont provide long term solutions!

    • Namrata says:

      I agree. The govt is there for service and ideally, should not look for profit. But, we all know about the bureaucracy that exists.

      As for the dharnas and protests, I think all they are doing is drawing attention to their cause. Most of them do not have the time to set up a group which can work with dedication towards a long term solution. Also, there is a huge risk in medical colleges w.r.t faculty’s power in deciding a student’s fate.

  2. Pankaj Saini says:

    Many of my school friends (In fact most of my closest school friends) are Doctors (that’s what they call themselves after 5 years of study 😀 ) .. so I know most of the situations, terrible as well as exciting, described here… but then again, it’s their choice… it’s not really a good judgment to judge their conditions from our (engineers’) frame 🙂

    • Namrata says:

      I am judging it from the frame of any person who goes to a college with expectations. I think in our case we were pampered. But they do not even have proper ventilation in their rooms !!

  3. Mahesh says:

    My sister is a doctor and believe me I can relate to most of what you have said. It gets really frustrating for them especially when they are done with their MBBS. In spite of it being a tough accomplishment its just like a start for them. If they have to survive in the medical world they’ll have to go for PG which is again a major pain – first no seats and then, so tough to get through. I consider my self very lucky…its just amazing the hard work they put through and the will power they have!

    • Namrata says:

      The fight for a PG seat is like an epic battle. For OC boys, it must be hell. Then they also have three years rural service which a lot of people are opting for because that ensures reservation. Its so darn tough.

  4. g2 says:

    There they are… all the reasons why I did not become a doc even though I was better at bio than math (it’s sad that I only had two options)!

    But I think once you’re in that atmosphere, you get used to it. Once you’re in there for a reason, you look at it differently and it isn’t all that bad after all. Things ought to be better though.

    I’ve been to a few govt. hospitals in Mumbai and they looked marginally better.

  5. Ramki says:

    I’ve wanted to take up medicine as my career .. but sadly could not. I have my utmost respect to the medicos who work so hard (i wudnt have lasted a semester i suppose if i was a medico).My cousin is also in his final year of M.B.B.S , i rarely see him chilling out .. 24X7 reading large volumes of books. Hope things get better for these guys.

    The best post (coz i like medicine 🙂 ) of ur blog !!!

  6. mythalez says:

    that’s why i took the much easier way out to become a doctor 😛 [sorry, couldn’t resist :D]

  7. D. N. Rohith says:

    The only problem with the whole post is using the word “Government” as if it has nothing to do with what people do. As long we don’t realize the basic fact that “WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT” such posts from medicos, friends/relatives of medicos continue to pop up on the internet.

    • Namrata says:

      The reason why I used “Government” word so often in the post is because the institutions I am talking about are not private and instead run using Government funding. People in these institutions definitely have a responsibility towards making changes. I was making a point about how in general, majority of government funded institutes are lacking in infrastructure etc.

      And I actually do not feel like I AM A PART OF THE GOVERNMENT. If another comment of yours could pop up on the internet just like your previous one and shed some light on my doubt, I would be more than happy.

      • D. N. Rohith says:

        I didn’t realize capitalization is intended for screaming in cyber world when I posted the comment. So please read that just as a highlighter.

        We are part of government because we fund it. Hence the right to have a say in appointing legislatures who are supposed to keep a check on the government’s duties. Lately we have RTI too as a direct check on government.

        Yes the employees in government must have responsibility. But we,the financiers of the government, have more responsibility to protect our investment. 🙂 So use RTI whenever you are pissed off at them and try your best to increase the voter turnout in elections.

    • sashidhar says:

      Terribly sorry to digress from the post and the issue of medicos but I don’t feel like I’m part of the government. Opposition in this country does nothing but push back the reform process two steps back. Petrol prices are increased (which should legitimately be increased) and BJP raises a hue and cry. Where’s this hue and cry when it’s election time? They’re all for religious politics. CPI did nothing but give hollow threats of snapping its support to the coalition. Look at its own states, they are in a sham. Indian politics is a sham with politicians all around who don’t understand their own agendas. Rightists joining hands with leftists just to increase entropy in the system… :/

      Ruling party is another story in itself. In the name of “bringing them to mainstream”, they are snatching the lands of adivasis and driving them away. Estabilishing SEZs, building dams and leaving thousands homeless. Systematically eliminating indigenous tribes. All this reminds me of native american genocides in US and the concentration camps in Germany. Tax payers’ money goes into building those flyovers in delhi and make the commonwealth games chairman happy. 18000 crores!!! really?? An oil spill in gulf of mexico and Obama threatened to give BP the boot. We had a gas leak 25 years in Bhopal and we acquit that Anderson guy… Well its Indian govt. which has sold itself to a bunch of capitalists to boost the ego of the top 2% of the India’s bigwigs… And there is very little hope. Nothing can happen at grassroots level. It’s too longterm and too impractical.

      • D. N. Rohith says:

        As you said nothing can be done in shorterm. The choices are simple: either leave the country for a better one or if that is not possible try for the longterm solution. Feeling sad about present situation and doing nothing is not good for mental health 😛

  8. sashidhar says:

    well atleast this post proves the point that no matter what all learning takes place outside college. whether it’s live projects in IT or apprentice-ship in CA or examining dead bodies in medicine.

  9. kuberasamrat says:

    It was a nice post. But it shouldn’t be shown to my bro. He has completed +2 this year. He got BDS(2940) but he rejected. He is going for a long term this year. ee post chadivithe bayapadipothademo doctor ante.

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  11. Rowdi says:

    I hope you guys after all struggle should not forget to change the previling scenario. I know, you people have went through lot of discomfort till you have degree to say, you can “Save the society” .
    Nicely written.
    Good Luck.

  12. Tolia says:

    Naice.

  13. vrikmace says:

    Quite an eye opener.

  14. yk says:

    Conditions are very good in Kakatiya medical college, a government medical college compared to AMC.

    I know a good number of frustrated AMC students. Don’t know why 🙂

    • Namrata says:

      Well, sometimes you have to choose the better college over better hostel facilities. Am glad though that your stay is much more comfortable!

  15. kanagu says:

    Its quite informative and also very pathetic to hear about the unclean hostels… it is the case with most of the governmental colleges… 😦 😦

  16. Shobhit says:

    🙂

    I’m glad that someone could relate to the plight of the Indian Med student. It’s not just the case of AP, but all around India. No wonder the number of students opting for Biology has continuously been on the decline since the past many years. I have been through it all and whatever you have conveyed through this post is absolutely true. Looking forward to Part 2.

  17. Saujanya says:

    nammmuuuu!!!
    where’s the second part??!! 🙂

  18. Tamra says:

    Just checking.

  19. Tamra says:

    Sorry no offence!

  20. Dad gynaecologist for 28 years with a majority of rural population.
    Little sis will be done with her house surgeon in a month.

    Life is hell for doctors. Probably the reason why they are respected more than others. Atleast used to be respected until corporates entered the medical field.

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