By: Dr. Manasi Tushar Rege, Junior Resident, Department of Pharmacology L.T.M.M.C. & G.H.

Roshni’s mother called out, “Go study for your geography test; marks are very important if you want to be a doctor.” Little Roshni reassembled and closed her doctor set, put her teddy, which posed as her patient, back into the closet and went to study. As she opened her geography textbook, she pondered over her mother’s words. Is it necessary to be able to correctly answer the mugged-up names of the states of India for being a doctor?  Are marks really that important? 

“Hey, how much did you get in Physics?” Roshni’s friend asked her as they prepared together for NEET, the medical entrance exam. Her friend sulked over getting 5 questions wrong, but worse, losing 5 points over negative marking. Endless college and classes over the week and exams over the weekend, all for a 3-hour paper. The examination was for getting into medical college but the pressure of internalising Newton’s laws and Mendeleev’s periodic table made her lose focus of why she was here in the first place.Mid-term surgery exam results were out. Roshni checked her corrected exam paper. A ‘very good’ remark in red ink glistened on top of her answer sheet. She had received that for an answer on sutures. She wrote a long answer, describing in detail what an ideal suture is, the types of suture materials, different types of knots, etc. She momentarily smiled, happy with her performance, then her mind guiltily went back to how she had recently bunked the posting where the surgery resident was to teach her batch suturing techniques, only so that she could study for the upcoming exam.NEET PG results were out. Dr Roshni felt her world crumble as a 5-digit rank defined her worth. Her dream of being a psychiatrist would have to wait even more. The following weeks were not easy. Sleepless nights and stressful days with no light at the end of the tunnel…

Our education system has always been a matter of debate. Focus on indoctrination and rote learning has made sure that curiosity, compassion and creativity could not take centre stage in the life of a student until much later. We frequently come across the quote, “Don’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree” but no foolproof method has yet been invented to overcome the fallacies of the education system and until then marks will be a major parameter to judge our worth, not just to ‘Sharma-ji ka ladka’ but throughout the world.

But while every school/college topper may not end up being super-successful in life, marks may after all be of some value to judge the performance of a student. Because, although it displays the student’s short-term knowledge for an exam, in the long run, it also shows one’s ability to work and put in that effort towards a goal; a goal that may not necessarily be a source of instant gratification. And that itself is a good parameter to judge one’s ability to set him/herself up for success.

Whether the system of marks is useful to make the world a better place may always remain a question, and whether it is useful in the life of an individual is something that only time will tell….

Even in a doctor’s life, it has had a two-faced existence. While every student becomes a doctor thanks to their entrance examination marks, it’s the last thing that a dying patient would ever think about..

Dr Roshni sat in her plush chair, as a mother dragged her 24-year-old son into her clinic. The man, a fresh medical graduate, had tried to swallow a bottle of sleeping pills a few weeks ago after a dismal performance in his NEET PG. Even after being discharged from the hospital, he refused to talk to anyone, spent sleepless nights and barely ate anything. He sat in front of her, seemingly a shadow of himself with dark circles around his eyes and gaunt cheekbones, refusing to look at the doctor. After hearing the story from the worried mother, Dr Roshni asked, “Of all the psychiatrists in this area, why have you come to me?”

“We have heard a lot about you ma’am. Everyone talks about what a good doctor you are,” the mother quipped.

“Then I assume you must have seen my scores in all the past exams to come to that conclusion of a ‘good doctor’ and have thought a hundred times before coming to a doctor who got through NEET-PG in her third attempt,” Dr Roshni smiled as the man finally looked up at her, a little colour returning to his face.

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