“Doctors who specialise in not specialising are the future of Medicine”

Dr. Suranjana Basak

MD, DNB Internal Medicine, PGDADCE (RCP, UK)

Consultant Physician & Endocrinologist, Reliance Hospital, Navi Mumbai

Editorial Director, Lexicon

What begins as a competition in school ends up as an insane rat race for the rest of your life. It is stressful not just in medical career but in other professions as well. However, it is important that such an approach is not seen in medical students as they will be handling human lives in future and not machines or documents. An error in judgement or intention can cost someone their life.  With the growing insecurity among the general public towards the medical fraternity, it is critical that we prepare ourselves to embrace the positive and the negative of the society and reinstate the faith in medicine. Often MBBS graduates are puzzled as to whether or not to study further and if so, then in which branch and how? Considering the growing gap between UG and PG seats in India, we have been losing almost 35% of Indian Medical Graduates to US and UK for Residency and future. Let’s take a step back and understand whether we really need to specialise further. Here is why you shouldn’t:

1. India has a population of 1,32,60,947 (as of 2020) and 12.6 lakh allopathy doctors (including super specialists) and 5.6 lakh AYUSH doctors, which makes it 1 doctor for every 1854 people. What that actually means is : It could be 1 ENT for 1854 people or 1 neurosurgeon for 1854 people or 1 general physician for 1854 people but JUST ONE of them and not 1 each. Who would you resort to for vomiting? Who would treat you for malaria? Who would deliver your baby? Who would treat you for Tuberculosis? (Naming some of the most prevalent diseases in the country) You’d want that doctor to be your PHYSICIAN, right?

2. With a constant rise in the lifestyle diseases such as Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, PCOD, Hypothyroidism, Acute Coronary Syndrome, Dyslipidemia, Cerebrovascular Accidents, a patient needs to head to multiple specialists. But you still head to a physician for your day to day ailments. Someone who understands your system and your illness. Someone who knows your 20 year medical and social history and who has connected you with the right specialist at the right time. An Orchestra is led by a conductor who directs the performance with movements of the hands and arms, often made easier for the musicians to see by use of a conductor’s baton. The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo and shapes the sound of the ensemble. That is precisely what the primary PHYSICIAN does.

  1. You start early as a PHYSICIAN. Post MBBS/ Post Internal Medicine you walk into practice, research, teaching and education which paves the path for the future of medicine. This is actually a three year lead at least as compared to super specialists who study for three more years, attain further training and work experience, then walk into practice which is extremely pin hole since they only cater to one area of expertise which may set a prejudice to the other existing parameters.

Lastly, the Covid-19 pandemic has been an eye opener enough towards the true heroes of the era – Doctors and more so, Physicians.

Note: ‘Physicians’ in this article are not solely referred to Indian GP/ AYUSH doctors but also, MBBS, Family Physicians, General Medicine Postgraduates.

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