Competition in Medicine: A Brief Insight!

By : Dr. Prakrut Paidisetty, Dr. Ulhas Patil medical college and Hospital.

The journey in medicine or any field for that matter begins with competition. You take your NEET exams in those uncertain and tremulous years of 17 and 18, burn the midnight oil and after what feels like centuries of monotony you make it into medicine. One would think it all gets better from here. Quite the contrary! What we don’t understand is, in those years of competition, with around 18 Lakh candidates, one develops a certain ego on achieving the goal. Worry not, MBBS will take that right out of you, come first semester. However, this competitive spirit is a key driving force on what your social standing among your peers will turn out to be, and it is also very important for surviving the vast sea of medical curriculum. Who knows? you might even find your soulmate out of it! This academic competition lasts for 4.5 years, and it is mostly up to the student to stress out from it or grow with it. The competition takes a toll on many students’ mental health, but they carry on for the dream of internship, where we believe we will find solace in working like a doctor. Few changes I expect you will find in yourselves when you finish the first 4.5 years are: –

1. You have lost quite a lot of your hair.

2. You’ve maybe put on more weight than you would be comfortable with.

3. You start distrusting doctors as a whole.

Then comes internship, a time free from exams but at the end of which lies the real life-altering exam, the infamous NEET once again, only for a post graduate seat. However, internship presents itself with its own set of challenges, and you would find a distinct change in the type of competition from the one you have been facing all this time. The change from ‘competition for academics’ to the ‘competition of competence’. In most of our colleges which are generally low resource settings, ‘the competition of competence’ becomes more of a ‘competition of opportunity’. From who gets to do a suture to who gets tomorrow off, we face a competition for opportunity every single day. Many students turn bitter with this daily struggle and question themselves who their friends are, rather than embrace the competition, become proactive and street smart. It is also fun to see the competition amongst various departments. Here’s a story, on one of the busier than usual days at the hospital, there came a patient to the casualty with a history of a fall resulting in a minor head injury. Both the surgery and medicine departments were called to evaluate the patient, because he also mentioned a history of feeling dizzy. Residents from both departments argued whose patient it was because, if the patient fell because of feeling dizzy, it would be a medicine case. On the other hand, if the patient fell, hit his head and then felt dizzy, it would be a surgery case. As I mentioned it was busier day than usual with both departments having their hands full, it was fun to watch our seniors argue.

The life of a medico has these incidents on a recurring basis, and it is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, competition is inevitable. It drives us to strive forward in life, however it has a dark side to it. It is our responsibility to not let it consume us and use its push to be better than yesterday.

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