First and foremost, sorry for a late reply, we've been struggling for our final exams few weeks back. Alhamdulillah, holidays are finally arrived and here we are.
After reading your words in the shoutbox few weeks before, I would say, I’m glad to know a person like you who have such a real passion to be a doctor. Such enthusiasm and determination are reflected in your writing. To me, that's a number one and most important 'thing' that one must have to be someone or to achieve anything in life and well done, you just show us you really are.
As usual, the very first question that one must know to answer is "Why we want to be a doctor?" It's a very common question during interview of any job. It's so simple but yet extremely important. I guess the best answer should be the one that comes deeply from the heart and a conscious mind.
As a medical student, i must admit, life as a medical student is not something pleasant. Neither easy. To me, it can be terrible, good but never great. But, it doesn't mean that you have to open the medical book or other medical-related book 24/7 and having no life like someone may say. You still can do whatever you want, you still can enjoy your hobby, you still can enjoy your favourite sports, in short you can do anything you like, do fun things but sacrifice is a must. One big thing is of course the materials which get heavier year by year. Then comes the pressure of performing well especially during bedside rounds and in exams. Then there are another bigger and biggest thing that you'll soon find out.
Sometimes, somewhere along the road as a medical student, i do feel like dropping out. (huhu, sounds bad huh?) The more experience i get in the hospital with patients and attending specialists or residents, the more incompetent i feel. The more stupid i am. At some points, i feel like i have no brain. Or if i do, i feel like it's not functioning well. Sometimes, i am totally lost. And I don't know why.
Another bigger and more important thing that drive me crazy is responsibility. Yeah, again, it's responsibility and it’s HUGE. It's a matter between life and death. And to make it more dramatic - there should be no room for an error.
We all know a duty of a doctor, at least this one - to diagnose a disease/(s) and treat the patient accordingly (We treat a patient not a disease). Here's the biggest challenge. In addition to that, one should master another 'big' book : on how to be a true professional who knows how to behave and how to communicate well with patients.
As a doctor, to reach the right diagnosis based on symptoms that a patient present with is one of the toughest challenges of all. You know, patient may come with simple symptoms like cough, headache or as complicated as traumatic victim of RTA with multiple compound fractures and injury to major vessels or patient with multiple chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart or respiratory problem who needs an operation which a doctor know that kind operation will be a risky one. And many other diverse kind of symptoms and presentation. You name it.
One of the biggest failure as a doctor is when a patient die because the doctor make the wrong diagnosis. When this statement is believed to be true for most people, there is another side of the story that people do not know or do not understand.
I guess, usually when a patient die or having complication, we tend to say the doctor is the one to be blame. He is not good enough, he is incompetent, he made a wrong diagnosis, he give patient wrong medications that worsen the condition instead of making it better then the patient develops complications and if unlucky end up to be dead. Sounds familiar right? Instead of saying all doctors are innocent; i don’t deny there are some who aren’t.
The bottom issue is, to diagnose a disease is not easy. Seriously. Especially if a case is complex. Many diseases share similar if not same presentations. When we think that is the best diagnosis for that patient, it can turn out to be the worst diagnosis ever. Even with a minor symptom that we may see as simple as headache, it can be the main subject to a big and serious disease that maybe develops insidiously.
Sometimes, patient may forget certain disease they have many years ago that might be related to their current health problem, another thing is, there are patients who do not know their family history, for example if there's any genetic disease that run in the family that actually prevent a patient to go under the knife. A doctor may have ask this and that, but s/he might not get enough information that supposed to help her/him to reach the right diagnosis.
In addition to that, another great partner for a doctor is - s/he is busy. Always. Busy, busy and busy. A common nature of a working man is, i guess, the higher our position is, the busiest we are. One who works as a minister has less time than the one who works below him. But for a doctor, the opposite is more truthful. For most students, starting from a high school, we must get excellent grade in order to be accepted to medical school. Then, we have to endure another 6 years just to get a scroll, to be a general physician. Adding to that, we will experience another 2 gruesome years as a houseman. Then another 3 years as a medical officer. Then after that, if we are motivated enough, we can apply for another 3-4 years to get the title as a specialist. And once we become a specialist, a hectic life that we have before should be less.
If people ask, why a doctor be a doctor eventhough they know how hard it is, I guess the answer will be - satisfaction. In the end, it is just like any other career - we work not merely for people but ultimately Lillah. Like a puzzle, each one of us is designed to be a certain piece and complete others like how others complete us.
I don't mean to scare you nor am making you feel down, I really sorry if I do. But, to tell you the truth, I’m just hope that I could give you some clear picture of what it's like to be a doctor.
But, here come the best part that i see in you – the passion. To be a good and the best possible doctor, we must work hard, keep on going and trying and never give up. If we fall apart, we must try to rising up back, recollecting the pieces again and again until it turn out to be the most beautiful picture ever, Insha’Allah. To be strong, to me Allah is everything. Thank Allah for His bless, I am still here in medical school and trying to be the best that i can.
And here, i would say I’m not the best person to tell you all of these. I'm not the best student who always gets high marks every term. I'm not the best student who always is able to neither answer many questions nor perform outstandingly during bedside rounds or in classes. For first few years of my life as a medical student, i would describe it as a ship without a direction. I take life as it is. Not having a clear picture of what i really want every semester, no goal and no vision is another big mistake i did. Although i admit before, i did have a clear picture why i applied this course but somewhere along the road, i lost. My point here is, setting a short term goal is something that will help you to go through your study more efficiently.
I think it’s more than enough. Thanks for anyone who’s able to read it. Please ignore vocabulary/grammar mistakes that you may find. And finally, this is just my two-cent opinion. Other medical students or doctors may have different views regarding this matter.
All the best!