There! I Solved It.
We live in an era where ‘problem-solving’ is not only one of the most casually and sans-irony terminology thrown around, but also a genuine job description. Lexicon – India’s foremost medical magazine with a huge readership and four themed editions annually (yes, I’ve pegged shameless rear-end-kissing because I lost the last competition and I’m in a whatever-it-takes mode) has gone a step further, and asked medicos to don this problem-solving hat – because we have always made the right choices in life, like (including but not limited to) taking biology in eleventh standard <insert tears here>.
What complicates the problem of problem-solving further is the fact that you cannot just come up with any random practical solution. We’re in 2023, so a solution must be inoffensive to any and every sexual orientation group, religious minorities, all genders, and the fan-armies of Bollywood actors and Political figures. The solution should also be ethnically diverse, carbon-neutral, come in a biodegradable package, follow whatever twitter-jargon-of-the-day-guidelines have been laid out by the
Gretas activists of the world, and not involve any monetary exchange else communists will show up and delay things unnecessarily.
The problem that I have to solve today is the Indian Medical Education System. So far, like every other problem in the country, the onus of solution (and the allegation of being the root cause) has been put on the government. And so far, it has come up with solutions that have made the problems worse for everyone, except for the relatives of some politicians who own medical colleges.
Well, bring it on. Although I say this never having taken part in a Mock United Nations or having read more than 10 pages of Becoming by Michelle Obama. So, my ‘leadership skills’ and ‘political intellect’ quantify between ‘zero’ and ‘youth leader re-launched’.
My first big idea, if ever I’m made the Minister of Health, will be to bring trained paramedics into the equation. Some of us remember the viral video where a shirtless gentleman in dhoti claims to be a ‘practitioner’. We’ve all laughed at that, but let’s delve into his words a little deeper. He knew the rough use of a few emergency drugs, and said that he intended to use those to transfer patients to a higher centre far-off. So, you have enthusiasm, some crude knowledge and at least a basic idea of the hierarchy of medical centres. What’s missing is proper training, ‘official’ channelization of their time, intellect and energy, and the intent of streamlining them.
This reduces the burden on the rural healthcare system, avoids wasting advanced expertise and work-hours, and generates jobs. This might make the merit list for MBBS more streamlined, as there would be a less time-consuming option to have a career in the ‘noble field’. This idea could make the ‘bridge course’ fiasco obsolete.
This could free up doctors to take up other important matters, such as replying to the weird medical queries of their acquaintances at odd hours and getting beaten up by attendants. This could also make healthcare more accessible as more people would be introduced to basic health screening. This could be a swashbuckling job-generating exercise and the ultimate Community Medicine wet dream.
Let’s consider the expected backlash. I’ll be taking questions one at a time.
1. But bro, such basic info is found on WhatsApp as well. So you’d start training anyone now?
A: No. My intent is not to train the family WhatsApp group uncle who tells people that rubbing lemon on your elbow cures Covid. Nor is my intent to regularize quackery. The focus shall be on providing scientific training of basic triage, handling emergencies and transportation of sick patients.
2. So there’s no eligibility criteria? Can anyone enter the medical field now?
A: The cut-off for NEET PG has just been made ZERO percentile. At this point, any eligibility criteria which is NOT a ‘zero percentile criteria’ is automatically a better idea. While you use terms like ‘anyone’, you also overlook the amazing work done by ‘Asha’ workforce throughout the nation.
3. How to prevent this trained paramedic force from acting like Doctors and taking serious matters into their own hands?
A: The same way we’ve been able to prevent quacks, influencers and hakim-babas from practicing – widespread corruption, inept policing and bad-mouthing of allopathy. (Waiting for you to detect the poor-quality satire)
4. We see paramedics putting blankets over victims in a lot of western soaps and movies. Are you ripping off this unoriginal idea?
A. Mostly, but if you know what happens with the Indian Railways inventory, you know we’d be out of blankets anyway.
5. Wouldn’t it be a somewhat low-paying, labour-intensive job? How will you generate interest in people?
A: My best bet is with a TV soap/OTT series where Karan Singh Grover plays a hot paramedic and rescues the female lead from the jaws of death. We can name the series in an inspiring way using scientific terms from the world of medicine, like Dill Mill Gaye Dobara.
6. Are you going to say anything useful? Like the annual uncertainty around NEET?
A: In the current political climate, I fear that the uncertainty is the only thing preventing year-long strikes in healthcare and anyone who disagrees with your opinion being labelled fascist. You can’t make everyone happy – you’re not ‘The Office marathon’ on your post-duty off day. So, we should invite different student bodies and experienced faculty along with the decision makers, ask them to put forward their points, note them down with respect to different opinions and pros-and-cons and then shove it up your b…
While I’m not the best person for putting across the explanation for my idea, I am serious about my idea. The idea could ‘Make India Great Again’, or it could simply be another well-intended, poorly-handled masterstroke, like Demonetization, or a Common-man political party. History will judge such ideas better.