So, you want to be a doctor? Think again!

Published: August 1, 2013

Everything wrong that happens in a hospital has only one reason. You. DESIGN: AREEBA KAMAL

Dear prospective, to-be doctors, this article contains stuff you may consider sadistic or full of spoilers. Read at your own discretion. Don’t say you were not warned!

Let’s observe some reasons why your medical ambitions might turn out to be more challenging than you initially thought they would be. No pressure, of course.

You will never, ever stop studying

You will have to appear in approximately about 15,000 examinations. Yes, it’s true, and mind you, more keep adding up on a daily basis in case you ever think you are close to getting done.

It only makes sense then that books and wards are going to be your muse for quite some time now (read: your lifetime).

You’ll be haplessly gazing at your laptop screen, where your non-meddie fellows will be putting up their graduation pictures with gusto. All the while, you’re still studying. Then they will be changing their relationship status for the better. Again, you’re still studying. Then they will be uploading the lovey-dovey pictures of their new-borns and, you guessed it, you’re still studying.

A considerable body of evidence goes into suggesting that there’ll come a time when the same new-borns will be sharing their own graduation pictures, and you probably will still be studying!

Also, don’t expect, respect or awe in exchange of your unwavering commitment to studies. You’ll be seen as a nerd by all and sundry. All the cool adjectives they use for normal human beings will always remain elusive to you. And no one will turn around to steal a glance at your lab-coat. (Silent prayers for those who expected this to happen.)

At some point, after you have studied in detail every artery that’s in every nook of every bodily part of yours, you will crave ignorance. It is then when you will realise that ignorance was bliss.

Senior doctors will make you suffer

Brace yourselves for endless hours of cringe-worthy humiliation at the hands of potential mentors.

You won’t be getting any kind training, considerate attention or encouraging words from most of the senior lot of doctors. The prime focus they’ll have on you will be when they’d have grown tired of you not coming to the hospital on time and not treating the patients in they way they expect you to.

Then, they’ll molest you mentally and you will be wishing they went back to just ignoring you.

You will be a silent witness to the condescending attitude some of your senior doctors will have towards the patients. And apparently it’s only in Grey’s Anatomy where you can get away even with unauthorised autopsies. (Or PTV’s Painkiller where you can get away with just about anything!) But in the real world, there’s usually no time difference between the interval you open your mouth and land yourself in detention.

Not to insinuate that junior doctors are any easier to deal with. Juniors will come to you and ask you about stuff you’re too smart to remember. Seniors will summon you to ask about stuff that’s too smart for you to remember. You’ll be a dunce for both. Blame it on great expectations.

You want a pay raise? How dare you!

For the initial years, which is most of your youth for the record, you’ll have only blood, sweat, vomitus, faeces (and pus too, if you’re really lucky) over you as the sole souvenirs of your profession. It will be quite some time before you take charge of those House MD type scenarios – if you ever get to do that, that is! But when you feel like you’ve laboured enough to merit a pay raise – prepare to be thwarted.

Ask for a raise in your pay once, you’ll be duly ignored. Twice, you’ll be denounced. Thrice, all TV channels will go berserk on you. For the fourth time, when you subsequently go on a hunger-strike, you may end up in jail.

Then again, on the 599th time, if you still have the heath and heart for it, you might actually get an increase in your salary.

Well, congratulations. Now, commercial drivers are making more money than you are!

Politicians hate you, but you’re a messiah – go figure

You’ll soon realise that when politicians talk about strengthening the health system, they actually just mean they plan to give the doctors a pretty good beating. Your lot and you will be seen as the nemesis of health-care. All the legislation will have only one purpose- to torture you.

And no, you cannot complain about anything. In case you don’t know already, you’re a messiah.

Want to go abroad? Shame on you!

No one will ever try to understand the reasons why new doctors are so eager to go abroad; no one will sympathise, let alone empathise. What everyone will agree to is that you’re a disgrace to your country – a filthy creature that values money above all things good and moral. In case you don’t know already, you’re contemptible and objectionable.

Even if you are thick-skinned enough to take on the scathing remarks at home, authorities abroad aren’t looking forward to your arrival either. Foreign countries won’t be too excited to welcome you – the doctor from Pakistan – and give you a place within their domain. But all this is just petty details.

It’s all your fault, doctor

Yes, everything happens for a reason, but everything wrong that happens in a hospital has only one reason; you.

Problems you face could be completely unrelated to your skill. Sometimes, you cannot examine the patient since there’s no electricity. Often, the patient still has the disease since he was non-compliant. Or maybe a patient has got some idiopathic complications. But when you try to explain the issue at hand, the reactions you receive go somewhat as follows:

What type of a doctor are you?

Who gave you a degree?

Why are you still alive?!

On the other hand, when you look really hard, you may find a silver lining, doc.

Every doctor has his or her day. One day, you’ll have waded through these murky waters, earned some authority and will be in a position to change things for the better.

However, you may find that Ponds age-miracle doesn’t work on you anymore and beta-blockers are your new food supplements. Then maybe, you’ll realise that working for change is over-rated and is less important than getting yourself cardiac prosthetic devices. So the latter is what you will eventually go for.

By the way, happy medicine!

Note: This is a satirical piece and is not directed at anyone in particular, nor is it meant to offend sensibilities. 

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz is a doctor from Abbottabad who's either traveling or writing while not procrastinating. He tweets as @asifnz (twitter.com/asifnz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • saadat khan

    A very well written article , Funny :)Recommend

  • Javeria

    spoton!Recommend

  • Parvez

    ……..and who drives the Mercedes Benz ?…………….not me.
    Recommend

  • Salman

    It was a highly exaggerated article until I read the note at the end.Recommend

  • faiman

    Hahaha, truth down to the last world. Wish people would realize that the FANCY CONSULTANTS THEY VISIT IN AIR-CONDITIONED PRIVATE HOSPITALS are a small fraction of this huge community of doctors where almost 90% suffers day and night to make their ends meet. Try going to a government hospital for a change and live there with junior doc for a single emergency call.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Parvez:

    Plenty of people actually do, unfortunately, I don’t ! :-( sigh Recommend

  • A fellow doctor

    @ Author

    There is light at the end of the tunnel … Keep persevering.
    Best of luck.Recommend

  • Abdullah Khan

    But if you have a political , bureaucratic ,etc Back up than don’t worry you will be passed in every subject without studying ,attending ward ,and don’t afraid you will get job and also your choice posting and your Account officer will make you millionaire and than billionaire. Try to get admission in Medical college and always say you just join this holy profession to save HumanityRecommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    Dear Author,

    well written funny article but believe me Doc are not the only one..Engineers are facing the same trouble in Pakistan..
    The only difference is that Engineers are not required to give different kind of exams according to different countries…

    RegardsRecommend

  • saadia

    and consider it doubled the trouble when when you’re a female…i wish i had read something like this 10 yrs ago :/Recommend

  • I.

    Same goes for dentistry?
    Please say no :/Recommend

  • waseem

    Do Not worry. very soon every country will close the doors fo Pakistanis, because our ethics, Standard and moral value are under discussion.Recommend

  • A Abid S

    All i know is that u forgot to mention a TINY thing that doctors get THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in subsidies…it cost govt $50k to educate one doctor..and u pay only 10% of it…and most of u finish and want to rush to UAE or USA or UK to make big bucks as its definitely not for humanity other wise u can stay here or go to Africa ..ever imagine how much does it cost in the US to become a doctor…..??? I think every young doc should spend 5 years in small town right after finishing school and 10 if they want to go abroad…u get educated on my tax money and want to serve others…i think thats stealing from me…oooooh by the way..if u have any friend becoming a CA ask him how tough is that and how they have to survive on 5k per month salary while doing articles….Recommend

  • Mazz

    So what!! Isn’t medicine the cause worth the effort and attention to dedicate one’s llife and soul to such a noble cause. It indeed is worth all the trouble in the world. Who’d want a lifetime of doing useless paper works of many different careers when health should and is of primary concern to the ever growing fast paced world. If men were to be born again and again, the heathcare industry would everytime be the most deserved choice for one’s future and nearness to Allah. Serving the mankind is itself a big service to Islam. Disappointed by the state of a future’s doctor’s thinking. Extremely Immature and unpractical stance by the writer.Recommend

  • Go zardari go

    Dentistry is a lot better than medicine in pakistan as it gives an option of becoming an independent practitioner. Plus the hours are much better than medical doctors. Even going abroad for them is a hassle. Recommend

  • Ammar Zaheer

    Very true,

    An engineer gets a decent job right after completing 4 years bachelor’s degree whereas a doctor needs to complete at least 11 years of education to reach the same level i.e. 6 years for MBBS and 5 years for specialization such as FCPS. By then the engineer has usually completed his higher qualification, working at a very higher salary and has medical insurance lol.

    That is sadly the state of affairs in Pakistan which is the biggest reason why bread winners of families tend to avoid such career paths and hence the decline of male doctors. Only those enroll to become doctors who have strong financial backing or girls looking to get good husbands based on qualification.Recommend

  • doctor

    I am a doctor and I will never want any of my kids to become a doctor.Recommend

  • Mavera

    This happens in every profession !!Recommend

  • Dr. Adnan Khan

    Dear Author

    Actually some of your points are valid. The problem is that most people have a very glamorized version of doctors. As someone pointed out in the comments above the fancy consultants people think of are only a small minority. Most docs serve out their lives in relatively tough circumstances. Based on some 20+ years of experience as a doctor and a specialist at that, I personally dont think the profession is what we all thought it would be going in. For some who were fortunate enough to adjust our paradigms, it turned out really well. I suspect for many others, it has not.

    As someone pointed out, the government gives a huge subsidy that no one has to repay. So there is a glut of doctors. Yes, there are way too many doctors and they compete for too few patients.

    As a consequence the pays of ALL doctors are low. An average MBBS makes around Rs. 100-200 an hour and a top specialist around Rs. 2500 an hour. This is considerably lower than their colleagues who go to the corporate sector. If you think that in govt jobs you earn too little, just count the number of hours you put in and do the math. It may be high number of hours for some but for most it will come to a low number.

    However, the irony is what you didnt write about. Once you become a doctor and a successful one at that, then what. You make money. Not a lot but you make that up by working really long hours. And you have no life of your own. If you are an average Pakistani doctor, you work around 70-80 hours a week, sometimes even more (US docs work longer). You have few interests because they take time. You dont read much (not even continuing medical education) because for that you have to use the time when you are not sleeping, eating or are tired. This is the time you devote to making money. There was a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine around 10 years ago that pretty much said that with a few exceptions most US docs were bored with their lives and their work. Do you think this holds for us in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Dp

    @ A.Abid.S

    What you say about hugely discounted education is true…(maybe the govt.should put in effect a bond of compulsory service of a few years, for doctors who had state supported education )But if it went hand in hand with decent pay,not many doctors would leave Pakistan for the west…and I’m just talking decent pay-not a posh, astronomical paypacket.Recommend

  • afza siddiqui

    and i thought doctors were the happy fraternity :( for female professionals jobs are not offered in most fields.what do we do to all the good grades we got through out our academics!!! this is a pathetic state .Recommend

  • http://tribune.com whitesky

    Is private practice is not the option for the doctors? This can fetch decent income as well as respect in the society leaving adequate time for the family too.
    Recommend

  • Dr. Khan

    Nicely written article. I am a doctor and my life is rubbish. I just passed my specialisation and my life is rubbish. Just to defend myself on the awful word, I am 24 and I just got a post in my hospital, because they couldn’t deny me on the basis of 10 distinctions and 4 year’s consecutive positions and yet I will have no pay for the upcoming 6 month’s. Why because they say they don’t have funds for that. On the contrary I daily see a motorcade if bullet proof BMW and Mercedes when I am come to the hospital. So why shouldn’t I be going abroad. Some of my friends did C. A and the author is right there status keeps on changing on Facebook.
    My advice to every single guy out there please don’t do it until you are stupidly passionate about it.
    For the girls start doing MBBS rishta acha aata hai..
    For the guys who said that the government spent 50k on me, does this mean I should sell my soul to the devil, my dreams to the sandman and my requirements as a youth to the reaper. I don’t get paid even a single penny.. Recommend

  • Dante

    The respect and money later in life are all worth the efforts. Your non-medical peers will be looking at you with envy.Recommend

  • The Rebel

    @Mazz: ”So what!! Isn’t medicine the cause worth the effort and attention to dedicate one’s llife and soul to such a noble cause”.

    It is, but not when you have a family and your own survival at stake. Don’t tell me you would give preference to being a humanitarian over trying to feed your family every day. That’s the misconception about doctors in our society…that they all somehow live a privileged life. Doctors work the most hardest as compared to other professions and yet get paid squat throughout their youth and beyond. So don’t be a hypocrite and start judging these people who spend sleepless nights trying to save countless lives.Recommend

  • Rukh

    This is unbelievable as it is coming from a doctor himself, For me,There is rarely a profession as noble and interesting as a doctor. Besides, the whole thing sounded absurd to me, everything is just so exaggerated and misled. I could point out numerous such lame negative aspects of various other professions.Recommend

  • dr.kavish

    i am dr. from lahore and i disagree from many things mentioned in this article. I think its not about the troubles ir difficulties in the profession, its all about choices, no one forces a doctor to face the suffering of honorary post graduates training and give multiple exam after mbbs. it all what we choose our self. one can start his private clinic right after the mbbs. i accept that private practice will not start giving output from very first day but ultimately it will. now if a young graduate does not want to be a general physician then he can’t blame the profession.similarly if drs are not satisfied that they don’t get free house ,free education for their children then they can join armed forces as commissioned officer. they can join navy,army,paf as commissioned dr and can have a free house, medical treatment, pay structure,promotions.forces are always looking for drs.people in this country are dying to have commission but again if a dr says that he will have difficulties of post graduation in forces and refuses the commission then again its his own choice and preference. i think the only medical qualification in which you will not remain jobless in Pakistan is mbbs. i did house job and without any experience i got the job of fifty thousand rupees. in which profession you get job so quickly with such handsome first pay? drs can go to KSA,Maldives and can have handsome money in their pocket after doing work their for a few years, but again if a dr want to go to Australia , usa, uk where they have license exams and he abuses the profession that he has to pay high fee of these exams,then again its his own choice. if you want to be on the peak of profession then for sure you will have to sacrifice many things. no one forces you to go and do fcsp, go and do css in 3 months prep. who stops you? but again drs close this option their selves by saying that clinical have its own charm. i think young drs are confuse they don’t know which road they should go . they are not clear what they should choose and what they should sacrifice.i will simply ask one thing.how much population of Pakistan is earning one lakh rupees per month? it must be very short and you should be proud that you are in it. you have basic qualification , go and enjoy your life with that and slow and steady you will get higher qualification and more and more money as well. but if you want to burn yourself with comparison then keep burning yourself. a man can never enjoy meal in his plate if he is constantly staring at the meal of others . just enjoy the taste of your own plate.Recommend

  • ToBeDoc

    Funny piece. Haha.Recommend