Dr. Abirami shares her journey from Meenakshi Medical College, Kanchipuram to Sawai Man Singh Medical College, Jaipur for her MD in Anaesthesiology. She shares her journey including details of why Jaipur for MD? Along the way, she mentions about a unique Master's program at IIT Kharagpur in the field of medicine. What follows is an excerpt of her interview with ACG (All Career Guru) team. Full interview can be seen at here.
ACG: Was medicine always your passion?
A: I was interested in many things, such as mathematics, biomedical engineering, literature, journalism, and yes, in medicine too and so with encouragement from my family, I opted medicine. My first group did include Biology. I also attended a B. Sc Mathematics class for 15 days, before I got admission for MBBS.
ACG: Why all the way to Jaipur for MD?
A: My first idea was to get out of Tamil Nadu, a comfortable place for me. More than being a doctor, I was an adventurer, wanted to explore new places and get acquainted with other systems. I had many options and I came to know that Sawai Man Singh medical college at Jaipur was one of the biggest hospitals in South East Asia, and I was interested.
ACG: Was that immediately after MBBS?
A: There was a one-year gap to prepare for specialty degree through NEET PG which was a torrential period. With so many specialties to choose from and no single source of guidance, I had to figure this out by reading and talking to people. During this period, I got in to MMST program (3 years Masters in Medical Science & Technology at IIT Kharagpur) through entrance exam. I didn't join the program as I didn't want to miss out clinical experience.
ACG: Tell us about this program at IIT Kharagpur.
A: This is one-of-a-kind program, offered in the country, with entrance qualification being MBBS. This program helps bridge the two disciplines, medicine and technology and provides interdisciplinary teaching. But my interest laid in hospital and clinical environment, so I dropped that idea and started preparing intensely for PG NEET. Clearing that took me to Jaipur.
ACG: What did you specialise in Jaipur?
A: In Jaipur, I did my MD Anesthesiology for 3 years, starting from 2018. Immediately after graduation, I joined as Senior Resident in Cardiac Anesthesiology. The MD period is called junior residence. After MD, one can either go forward with multiple super specialty exams or work as a senior resident and plan the future course accordingly, since, there are a variety of opportunities in either direction. At present, I'm able to explore the field of cardiac anesthesiology with plans to pursue further studies.
ACG: Tell us about the difference between General Anesthetist and Cardiac Anesthetist
A: A General Anesthesiologist is trained in all the fields of anesthesiology and will need MD degree in Anesthesiology. A Cardiac Anesthesiologist works specifically in the field of cardiac anesthesiology which in turn deals with the fields of cardiology and cardiac surgery. You can practice with MD Anesthesiology degree or super specialize with degree like DM/ DNB/ fellowship/ diploma. In either route you need to gain experience in the specific field as it involves dealing in depth. You can compare it to masters and PhD.
ACG: Won't narrowing your specialty limit your career options?
A: Yes, there are such tradeoffs. This is also a reason some quit in the middle of an MD, MS program as they realize late that they have chosen a wrong specialty.
ACG: Tell us about general good medical colleges in the country
A: I cannot pinpoint to a few medical colleges in the country as there are many colleges, government/ private and deemed that have an outstand ing curriculum and can provide brilliant clinical experience. There are certain central institutions like AIIMS, JIPMER that have their own entrance exams and are very famous among medical aspirants due to their infrastructure, academic program in addition to the branding. At the same time, there are equally proficient state institutions. I would recom mend future doctors to thoroughly research their options through national statistics and friends/ family before finalizing on their alma mater.
ACG: About career opportunities in medicine related disciplines?
A: There are many scientific programs available like microbiology, phar macology, biomedicine and technology which don't need MBBS degree. Technology based medical field is growing in our country but are a popular option abroad for academics and jobs. Development in technology has helped medicine grow and thereby provide the best chances of treatment to the patients. Pulse oximeter, anaesthesia machines, ventilators, defibril lators, prosthetic heart valves are in variety and constantly evolving due to technology
ACG: Any advice for those young students wanting to pursue a career in medicine?
A: This is not a 9 to 5 job. We look forward to exciting work every day, not always the same thing, so a lot to learn, one never stops learning. I don't want to say, we play Gods, we don't. There are many reasons why one chooses to be a doctor- prestige, passion, privilege, and/or financial stability. So, it is up to the individual to make up his/ her mind and enter this field as it can be extremely challenging and tiring.
ACG: What is the advice, if you don't make it through NEET or on to medi cal college?
A: If you want to be a doctor, then stick to your plan A but also remember if your field of interest is medicine related then, have a plan B. NEET is just an option, there are other entrance exams in the country and outside the country also. It is okay if you don't clear it on your first try, it is okay if you don't get your dream specialty..
*If you are passionate about what you want, then try again with better preparation.
"The MD period is called junior residence. After MD, one can either go forward with multiple super specialty exams or work as a senior resident and plan the future course accordingly, since, there are a variety of opportunities in either direction." "I was interested in many things, such as mathematics, biomedical engineering, literature, journalism, and yes, in medicine too." *