July 12, 2017, by Shweta

Throwback Tuesday: Placements During High School

While I was scrolling through social media as I do much too often these days, I came across a message from a former mentor that I met two summers ago. She is a paediatric surgeon who used to work at the Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai, India. And it is under her guidance that I had the best days of my life.


Two years ago, as an aspiring medical student, I spent a month of my summer holidays interning at the prestigious Frontier Lifeline Hospital in my ancestral hometown in south India. Founded by Dr. K.M. Cherian, the pioneer of cardiac surgery in India, I was beyond grateful for the opportunity to learn what no textbook could ever teach. Even at the age of 75, his love for medicine and undeniable work ethic is a true testament to what it takes to be a great doctor.


However, it wasn’t Dr. Cherian that truly inspired me, but Dr. Sowmyaa, the surgeon under whom I interned. In the time I spent running between ERs, ORs and OPDs, she taught me what it truly meant to be a doctor. She taught me that medicine is emotionally challenging as much as it is intellectually challenging and that, that is ok. As a female surgeon in a largely patriarchal society, her relentless desire to do better gave me confidence that I still carry with me, months later. But I’m not here to tell you all what a great internship I had. I’m sure you all have similar stories of your own. What I would, however, like to highlight is how much my perception of those experiences has changed since having gone to medical school.


As a teenager, I had an extremely idealistic view of how the healthcare system should work. I frowned upon the doctors who couldn’t do their best by their patients due to economic (or other) constraints. But having spent the last year in GP practices and hospital around Nottingham, I’ve realized that a long, healthy life is a gift that while everyone deserves, few get. I’ve learnt that the healthcare system is limited by its funding and resources and that doctors are people too. Not superheroes, just people.


I truly believe that coming to university opens your eyes like no other. When I look back at all the experiences I had during high school, I can’t help but laugh at my naivety back then. My perception of what medicine is has changed drastically in the past year, and I’m glad for it. All I wonder is how much I’ll be laughing in a few years from now, when I look back at this moment with a degree in hand.

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