page title icon Know What All It Takes to Be a Good Doctor: Trajectory and Challenges

Has COVID Changed Your Plans for a Career as a Doctor?

Dr. Amandeep gets drenched in sweat from head to toe when he removes his personal protection (PPE) kit after non-stop duty, which often extends to up to 12 hours when in double shifts. Dr. Barkha deputed in a COVID hospital is living separately from her family (her husband and two small kids) for over two months now to prevent them from getting infected! Amid a surge in COVID cases and lockdown, Dr. Pragya drove 180 km from her home, where she was on a leave, to attend to her call of duty! Dr. Shailesh was told to evacuate his flat by his neighbors in the society he lives in because of the fear of contagion. Dr. Mithilesh had to face violence from the relatives of a patient who died due to a lack of medical facilities in the hospital! Dr. Ali had an emotional breakdown because of his helplessness to save lives due to lack of oxygen! Do these extreme scenarios force you to reconsider your career choice as a doctor? Or, do you still want in??

The COVID-19 pandemic has made doctors and other medical health professionals realize the extreme challenges and unforeseen vulnerabilities.

The present conditions prove that medicine and healthcare are indeed among the toughest professions. It’s very hard to perform one’s duty in such a tense and panic situation as a pandemic!

The doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals work 24X7 as frontline workers in the extraordinary medical emergencies. Yet, they get to face peoples’ ire when unable to rescue lives owing to resource crunch or overloading of patients or reasons beyond their control.

The Drive to Serve

What keeps them going? Is it the Hippocratic Oath they take at the time of their induction? Or is it the noble cause of saving lives?

The reasons may be many, but the thing which is crystal clear is that to be a good doctor requires the highest level of commitment, dedication, responsibility and sincerity to one’s profession and patients.

All the anecdotes above point out that for them duty comes first and there is no backing out from their responsibility!

So, if you are among those who dreamed of becoming a doctor for the sake of the white coat and stethoscope hanging around the neck, or because of high salary or high social prestige, it’s time to ponder a little more on what you really want!

If you chose the career as a doctor just because your parents want you to become one or because of any other superficial reasons, I strongly advise you to reconsider your career decision!

Ask yourself this question–Why do I want to become a Doctor? 

How to Become a Doctor
How to Become a Doctor?

Assessment of Personality with the Job Requirement

In a country like India, where people are aware of only two white-collar jobs—Medicine and Engineering—often an individual’s personal attributes like aptitude, attitude, and personality traits get neglected. This may later create dissatisfaction from the job and discontentment from life.

That is why it is very important to select a job that aligns with your personality rather than you aligning your personality with the job you get. That’s because personality is something stable and hence difficult to change.

I know you are reading this because you are interested in becoming a Doctor. I may have made you doubt your choice or self-evaluate yourself! Believe me, I don’t want to discourage you in your pursuit of your dreams. But a little reflection is always healthy and productive.

If you think you have those qualities, or at least you can nurture those qualities in your personality and even the worst of the circumstances (like the pandemic) doesn’t waver you from striving to become a doctor, then keep reading further on how to go about it.

Decide Early What You Want to Be in Life

The foundational planning for a career as a doctor should begin in your adolescence years. Experts consider the Grade 8 in middle school an appropriate stage for the child to take a well-informed and conscious career decision.

After decision making, next comes preparation for getting into your dream career. The classes IX to XII are the foundational preparatory stage for developing competency in the subjects for your study of medical sciences later.

Eligibility for Studying Medical Sciences in India

For getting into a medical college, you need to qualify the national level medical entrance exam–National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for UG-MBBS courses in India conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

The eligibility criteria for sitting in the NEET is that one should have qualified Class XII in the science stream with the study of the principal subjects–Physics, chemistry, biology/biotechnology, and English.

The candidates must have scored a minimum 50% for Unreserved (UR)/General (EWS) category and 40% for SC/ST/OBC (Non-Creamy Layer) candidates. The candidate must have completed 17 years of age by the time of admission to medical college.

How Tough is the Competition?

The first enormous challenge after you have assured your eligibility is to crack the entrance exam. In NEET (UG) 2020, 15.97 lakh candidates registered, out of which 7.7 lakh qualified. Among those who qualified, most did not get a seat in any Medical College.

In India, there are 562 medical colleges with a total intake capacity of 84,649 UG seats for MBBS.

Just qualifying the exam is not enough. Getting a good score of at least 500 out of 720 may help you secure your seat in a good medical college.

So, are you ready to go into that kind of rigorous preparation requiring a lot of academic consistency?

The NEET Exam Pattern

The National Eligibility Entrance Test is a 3 hour MCQ based paper comprising 180 questions of 4 marks each.

There are 90 questions from Biology (Botany and Zoology), and 45 questions each from Physics and Chemistry.

There is also negative marking as you lose one mark for each incorrect response you mark. The NCERT syllabus for class XI and XII is the indicative syllabus for each of the subjects–physics, chemistry and biology.

However, a deep understanding of the concepts and ability to apply those concepts in varied situation will help in solving the problems you get in the question paper. 

Achieving the First Milestone

After you get through the entrance and secure a seat in a medical college of your choice, your journey in the career of a doctor has actually begun.

If you thought you did enough hard work in securing a seat for yourself, I bet this 5-year program will change your perception of hard work! The MBBS program is actually of 5 ½ year duration, including a compulsory 1-year internship program.

This period involves rigorous training to provide the knowledge, skills, and competencies required to be a proficient doctor.

In an online survey by Koppal Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) done on 1001 MBBS students across the country, about 43% of students expressed their urge to drop the course mid-way owing to academic stress.

What After Completing MBBS?

Considering you cope with the academic stress and get the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS degree), the next route is to either start practicing medicine as a general physician or go for specialization.

There are also direct recruitment avenues like UPSC conducts a Combined Medical Services Exam for MBBS degree holders for selecting doctors for central government run hospitals.

Most students opt for specialization. For this again, you need to qualify the NEET (PG) for getting admission in a Master’s in Medicine (MD) or Master of Surgery (MS) course.

The seats in MD/MS are about half of the MBBS seats for which approximately 1.5 lakh candidates appear every year. This implies that you have to be a sincere student throughout if you want to be a doctor.

In fact, learning never stops in this profession. You need to be a lifelong learner. Once you complete your specialization (pediatrics/gynaecology/neurology/nephrology/cardiology/Orthopaedics/ENT,etc.), you are ready to practice in a hospital or pursue research in medicine or start your own private clinic.

Some may also go for a super specialization of 2 years to get a Doctorate of Medicine (DM) or Master of Chirurgiae (MCh).

What Doctors Do?

The key responsibilities of a doctor include patient consultation, physical examination, prescribing medicines, providing medical care, writing reports, maintaining records, working in liaison with the hospital staff, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, teaching medical students and much more.

Are the Efforts to Achieve the Dream Worthwhile?

It’s true a Doctor has to spend a lot of time studying given the profession he/she is in of saving lives. This is also equally true that this long investment gets fairly rewarded.

There is no dearth of jobs for a fully qualified doctor in India. The salary may range from Rs. 50,000- Rs. 2.5 Lakh per month with expertise and experience.

There are a lot of opportunities in government and private hospitals, defense, railways, industrial organizations, clinical research, vaccine safety, NGOs, public health, etc.

A high social prestige, good career growth, attractive perks, flexibility in working in a hospital or clinic, etc. make this profession one of the most sought after.

Never-Ending Challenges of a Doctor

The challenges in a doctor’s life never end! Every medical case is like a riddle to be solved. There is no scope of medical negligence or a casual attitude in this profession.

Being closely connected with humanity, a doctor must possess qualities like compassion, patience, and excellent communication skills while dealing with patients.

A desire to work non-stop, selfless service, ability to work long hours even under pressure conditions are some of the high-level attributes we are witnessing in doctors during these tough times of the pandemic. So, are you ready to take the challenge?

7 thoughts on “Know What All It Takes to Be a Good Doctor: Trajectory and Challenges”

  1. Its helps me a lot to understanding the seriousness of becoming a doctor and its not an easy job because a person’s live is so much important for a doctor. Biology is a very huge subject because we have lot to study in it and there is so many career options in this stream, if u want to open one topic from biology then it’s take many years to learn and explore in only one topic. At last, thank u mam for sharing this article.

  2. Now I am willing to wear that white coat and want to specialise in neurology as I want to become a neurologist . This article increased my will power thanks a lot ma’am for the wonderful article.

  3. Now i am feeling really excited to become a doctor soon. I am very much proud and happy that i am studying MBBS. Thank you mam for this wonderful article

  4. I’ve read this article thrice , as it solves many of my doubts. Also, it always motivates me.
    Thank you ma’am!


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