As once heard in a Hollywood blockbuster… “Today, we celebrate ourIndependence Day.”

By Dr. Ankit Sharma

First of all, good wishes to you for our nation completing 75 years of Independence. If you have stumbled
upon this blog to read some goodie-two-shoes, sans-irony, intellectually plagiarised “but are we really
free?” material, then I must warn you that I am going to hand out more disappointment than I have to my
parents. The writer is no revolutionary, in the sense that he lacks any will and has zero talent to bring out
a revolution of any sorts. Oddly, he also likes to occasionally talk about himself in third person.

No. What we are going to do is to talk about the term ‘freedom’ in context of a career in medicine. At this
moment, I must put out a disclaimer that you are not supposed to take this blog seriously. This blog only
serves as a venting outlet for the writer, an editorial nightmare for the Lexicon hierarchy and a warning
letter for any future NEET aspirants.

Let’s start from the very beginning – birth. A lot of things get decided as soon as you are born. Your
chromosomal make-up (ninja word-play technique to avoid the risk of getting cancelled), your name and,
in some middle-class families, your career as well. It’s not as if you are not given any choice at all. In the
early 90s, you had parents taking the proverbial ‘cafeteria approach’. You could become a doctor, an
engineer, a civil servant, or an unemployed loser to whom no father would willingly marry her daughter
to.

So, even in those conservative years, there were still three more prospective career choices laid out for
you on DAY ONE of your extra-uterine life. We fast-forward to class eleventh (because until that level all
you can learn is limited to types of soil, a few lines from Shakespearean plays and the fact that
“mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”) and you if you have been, err, mentally stressed enough to
opt for medical stream, you have the choice to whether or not opt for maths as well because it serves two
purposes:

  1. Safety net in case you do not make it to the merit list.
  2. Makes you feel lucky enough to opt for biology because Maths sucks the joy out of your life if you’re
    not naturally good at it.

So, even at the tender age of 15-16 years, you have complete freedom in choosing whether or not to make
your life more miserable than it is already panning out to be.

Fast forward to life at a medical college. (The writer is conveniently ignoring the exam preparation, the
counselling confusion and then the phase of showing off and developing your own personal God-complex

using the hashtag #medtwitter). Life at a Medical College empowers you in an unimaginable way,
although the next paragraph comes with a personal bias and I apologize in advance for the offense that
some of you will definitely find a way to take.

You have the freedom to live at the hostel or as a paying guest or to live an oblivious and lacklustre life as
a day scholar. If you were a hosteller, you had freedom to stay awake beyond 10PM and (probably) as a
direct result miss all the morning lectures for the next four years. If you were missing the morning
lectures you still had the freedom to make up for those lessons by cramming up in the last few days before
the exams while crying on the inside and living on a diet of coffee, butter toast and the occasional I-give-
up-on-this-subject substance abuse.

It’s all fun and games until you become an intern, because that is where it becomes even more fun and
games. You see, people fret over internship stipend and working hours a lot, but the writer is more of a
glass half-full kind of a person, even though the half-full liquid may be warm, fizz-less and stale alcohol.
As an intern, there is so much freedom to learn a variety of things. You can learn the odd medical
procedure. You can learn how crying is not going to help when you’ve been handed a sampling list
foraying into three digits. You can also learn the art of doing endless paperwork, which was only
designed to fill an intern’s day with something other than trips to and fro the blood bank.

There you are… Freshly graduate, proud and unemployed and that’s what puts the free in ‘freedom’. This is
the point where you are loaded with maximum choices. You could slog a year or two with zero assurance
about a speciality seat, or even whether the exam will be arranged or not. You could chuck it all and give
CAT or GRE and become an investment banker or consultant who also offers colleagues outdated
medical advice. You could also decide on moving out of the country in search of things that form a part of
Indian mythology – ‘decent pay’ and ‘humane working hours’.

Poor attempts at satire aside, with respect to a career in medicine, all you need to do is to grab ‘freedom’
with both hands. You are free to practice your style of medicine as long as it conforms exactly to your
senior’s style. You are free to start your own life and ‘settle down’ as early as after completion of your
MBBS, MD, Senior Residency/DM/MCh, necessary years of further experience, publication(s), and male-
patterned hair loss.

You are free to practice your training in a country where a large proportion would rather believe some
Tantrik Baba’s claims than your degrees. You are free to go on strike to demand for basic things such as
workplace security, but only till 24 hours because Karma and ESMA can be a you-know-what. You are
free to become an influencer and sell wellness and beauty products unrelated to your expertise based
solely on your merit as a doctor as long as you promise to put “DM for collab” in your Instagram bio.

Now one must be wondering if this post was only a rant about the cons of a medical career. Well, you
should have seen it coming – at least when you were told what the writer’s glass was half-full with. Also,

what are you going to do about it? Scream “hame chahiye aazadi” whenever in-and-around a certain
university in south Delhi area, or bitterly accept it as we all did with the words “love storiyaan” in the
lyrics for the song Kesariya?

Any revolutionaries out there? Count me out.

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