What is the biggest irony of studying MBBS?

Something I had written long back on Quora as an answer to the question, “What is the biggest irony of studying MBBS?”.

The English playwright William Shakespeare describes seven stages of life in his monologue ‘All The World’s A Stage’.

The MBBS student, whose life can be similarly divided into multiple stages, faces ironies of a different sort, at every stage of life.

The first stage is that of a student preparing for his NEET UG exam. She toils hard for a minimum of two years, staying away from home in most of the cases, thinking of an immediately relaxed future ahead. Little does she know, or understand, the irony:

that, she is studying hard, only to get a chance to study even more harder.

The next stage is that of a medical student. Having realized the earlier irony now, she decides to study hard, and enjoy at the same time too. Many a time, this balancing act does not work, and she has to cut down on one of the two. Now, she realizes the irony:

that how much ever she must have heard, that balancing studies and enjoying life to the fullest, is a possible task, it is extremely difficult to get successful in both these aspects of an MBBS life.

Now, she has finished her MBBS, and is preparing day and night for her NEET PG. Memories of NEET UG haunt her, and it dawns upon her that life has come, from one exam to another, a full circle.

She starts to experience Irony Number One again, and also a new one now:

that life, like in an entrance test, is not primarily about selecting the right option amongst the given four, but it is actually all about eliminating the other three.

She shall select a course, not because she wants it, but because she doesn’t like the other specialties. Thus, the irony of this stage of life:

Every aspect of life becomes an entrance test, where the best strategy is to eliminate the wrong options, rather than selecting the right one.

Now she enters the next stage: the early part of her life long career.

First she gets married to her love, or by applying the irony of excluding options, removes the chances of finding love, and gets married in the arranged fashion, or just waits, for the right person.

Being a PG resident now, she is devoid of sleep, food, rest, unhealthily gaining or losing weight, and then, one night at 4 in the morning, as she is managing a critical patient, or just sitting with her books, she realizes the irony of this stage:

that she took an oath to heal humankind, and here she is, herself in the worst state of health.

After she finishes her PG, she has finally found a successful career, a good salary, a stable life, and now decides to pursue her lifelong passions.

Realizing that she cannot pursue each and every passion of hers, she tries to rationalize, thinking that it is all worth it, since she has sacrificed her own life for the greater good, and the satisfaction she receives from her profession, drives her on.

When her kids ask her about a career as a doctor, she comes face-to-face with the irony of this stage, and gives them the truest picture. She tells them to follow their passion, and if it is to become a doctor, so be it, but be ready to give up a lot in life.

Now nearing the end of her life, she herself suffers from the ailments she has treated people with, her whole life. She laughs at the irony of an oncologist getting cancer, or a psychiatrist suffering from clinical depression, and yet she knows that she can be her own doctor.

She looks back at her life, with all the happy moments, the struggles, the joys of success, and the tears of failure, and realizes that in spite of hardships, her life was a meaningful one, irrespective of the specialty she chose, and that it created an impact on this suffering world. And well, she actually followed her original passion her whole life.

She comes across the origin of the word ‘doctor’, which is from the Latin ‘docere’, meaning

‘to teach’.

And then, at the dusk of life, dawns upon her the ultimate irony:

That a doctor, till the end of life, more than being a teacher, is primarily a student.

Thank you for reading. Let no irony ever discourage you from taking up such an enlightening, challenging, and fulfilling study,

as the science of medicine.

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