An overview of all the different avenues for a career in that subject, it would ignite a sense of passion and excitement in the students
Pursuing a career in Medical Sciences in India requires the student to undertake M.B.B.S, a five year long rigorous and comprehensive course which transforms them into young healthcare professionals of tomorrow. However, a significant aspect missing from almost all the components is the students’ approach, curriculum, teaching, etc, alongwith a guidance for different career avenues within and beyond the domain of healthcare, which one could pursue after their graduation. An enlightenment on the measures we, as members of the medical fraternity, can adopt so as to better enlighten students, who are at different stages of their graduation journey, about the different career avenues for them, in order to make a responsible decision about their future. For young undergraduate students, stepping into the campus of their medical colleges infuses them with a sense of pride and excitement. The days and nights of hard work gone into preparing themselves for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Exam (N.E.E.T) have finally paved their way to the journey of becoming doctors. Well, that’s what we all dreamt of as an above average student in school and that’s what we intend to do in the five years we spend there. The medical curriculum of India is globally renowned to be one of the most robust and comprehensive ones. Apart from imparting vast loads of knowledge to the students somewhere we have forgotten to impart the wisdom they need to make tough choices ahead?
The seeds of this issue are sown right in the early days of our secondary education. The teachers and the ability of the student to identify his/her preferred career choice are the factors that significantly influence the career decision and aspirations of students. However, anyone with an ability to study long hours and have interest for biology over other subjects is prophesied by the parents, teachers and colleagues to enter the profession of medical sciences, or sometimes even the fact that the parents own a private hospital set up, is an incentive enough for children to pursue this career option. Are these criteria adequate for a young, naive mind to make such a huge life decision? Can a mere inclination towards biology or dislike for mathematics make one competent enough to understand whether one would prefer a career in healthcare? The crucial career path of each professional should be well in various fields when making career choices, and if yes, can the school administration help in enabling such a collaboration? Events such as career camps should be organized at the school level; or at least one interactive session a week about different career paths can be conducted for secondary and higher secondary school students, helping them navigate through the same.
An enlightenment on the measures we, as members of the medical fraternity, can adopt so as to better enlighten students
The significance of “meticulous formative early years” in all domains of education is highly underrated. As soon as the students enter their medical colleges, they perceive the curriculum to be one which aims to inculcate in them the aptitude of a good healthcare professional. Secondly, they believe it would make them knowledgeable enough to score well in the NEET-Post Graduate (P.G.) exam, which would enable them secure a seat in the specialty and institute of their choice. However, I believe that merely a good education and good score in the entrance exams is not the main aim of MBBS. We often miss out on the most crucial aspect – exploration! Why do we assume that NEET-PG is the only exam an MBBS graduate is eligible for? While a good education will enable one to score well in the entrance exam, how would one acquire the wisdom of what area one should choose to specialize in? Graduating in medical sciences opens a vast array of opportunities and having a closed mind to those different possibilities and the sheer lack of knowledge about their existence is a major hurdle in making the best of M.B.B.S. The merit list rank and prestige associated with a field are insignificant criteria that unfortunately end up influencing this decision in most cases.
In the very first week of the semester, before the lectures begin, if the faculty members of respective departments would give an overview of all the different avenues for a career in that subject, it would ignite a sense of passion and excitement in the students, while also understanding the significance and contribution of the subject to the field. A small step like urging students to report and publish rare cases they encounter during their clinical postings would give them the incentive to dive deeper into all different aspects of the case and the specialty, thus providing a glimpse of what the field has to offer. If included in the medical curriculum, small initiatives such as educational orientation tours to the college’s animal house or being a part of a drug trial could get one excited to specialize in Pharmacology and Drug Development.
Participation in workshops and drives like those of Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Trauma Management could make students want to pursue Critical Care Medicine or Trauma Surgery and participation in Mock Health Parliaments could make one consider a career in Community Medicine and Organizations like the World Health Organization. An experience of participating in symposia and seminars could raise interest in subjects with significant academic aspects like Physiology, while involving a student in a single interesting case could make one consider the less preferred branches like Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. One must remember that the aim of MBBS is not to transform students into masters of all specialties; instead, it is to give a sneak-peak into what each specialty has to offer, and simultaneously build a good personality and develop an ethical approach to life. Inspiration can come from literally anywhere, and once it strikes, the impact can be life-altering. While the compulsory rotational internship does provide a small glimpse into this area, it is neither sufficient, nor can one devote the appropriate amount of time for this, owing to the pressure of preparation for the entrance exams.The recently introduced Competency Based Medical Education curriculum and NEET examination give a glimmer of hope in this context and its impact remains to be seen.
From a career in medical research to joining the armed forces, the opportunities are immense and we are only limited by our hesitation to explore them beyond the conventional approach of our formative training years.
The scope of graduation in medical sciences extends beyond the domain of healthcare. Students could also have a career in Bioethics and Medical Law; they simply need to immerse themselves in the bioethics’ way of thinking, writing, or attend conferences from this field. Administrative experience, such as that of being a part of the student council, might inculcate the desire to pursue a career in the Indian Administrative Services, whereas participation in Model United Nations could prompt one to take up a career in diplomacy. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Hospital Management, stimulating more students to consider a career in the same. It has also led our policy makers to understand the importance of background knowledge in health sciences for taking administrative decisions in the healthcare sector, giving an additional push towards the creation of Indian Medical Services, to apply for which a bachelor’s degree in medical sciences (M.B.B.S) would be a mandatory requirement. Indulging in literary activities could open doors in careers like Medical Journalism. From a career in medical research to joining the armed forces, the opportunities are immense and we are only limited by our hesitation to explore them beyond the conventional approach of our formative training years. Understanding the need for it, if the curriculum could itself incorporate these aspects, young medical graduates would be in a better position to make Informed Decisions regarding their future, and in turn, serve the society in a much better way.
“Dr. Alhad Mulkalwar is presently working as an Intern (M.B.B.S.) at Seth G.S.M.C. and K.E.M. Hospital, Mumbai, India. He has won many international and national accolades.”