A few days ago I received a photo from our first year tutor group at the medical school in the college’s WhatsApp group. This initiated a series of anecdote exchanges from college life. Forty years after we passed out, everyone had something to say about our years together and life afterwards. This reminded me of an amusing incident.
Studying medicine is tough. Starting a medical degree after 10 + 2 is a completely different ball game. Successive lectures, internships, dissecting room and laboratories create an intoxicating mixture. The course is extensive and the topics varied. There are tutorials, group discussions, assignments, and weekly and monthly assessments with batch colleagues from different parts of the country.
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And if you are a hosteller like most college students are, you find it strange how people survive on bad food. When you settle down after the initial excitement of taking the first step towards becoming a doctor of exaltation, you realize that life is not easy.
But then the newfound freedom overtakes everything else. No restrictions on going out for a long time, junk food or riding a motorcycle. You are your own boss. You do what you want and for a while you feel on top of the world. This goes on for a few months until you look at the exam calendar.
I fondly remember my days at medical school. The exams of the first semester sent us to our seniors asking for tips, notes and tricks to face the viva voce where you can be asked in one-on-one interactions about anything vaguely related to your textbooks, where you can Can be ridiculed or made to question your decision to choose the medical profession.
The seniors scared us with data that so many students failed to take exams the previous year, and this could happen to some repeatedly. But then they shared their notes and prepared you for the “encounters”.
Over time, you’ll learn the ropes and gather a group of friends to have nightly study sessions with. There are some who you consider to be your rivals or competitors. I remember walking down the corridors of the hostel after a few hours of studying to stretch my legs. I looked in my classmates’ windows to see whose lights were still on and imagined who were all studying. In an attempt to beat them, I continued studying until most of the lights went out.
Last year a hardworking guy moved to our block. The light was always on in his room, even after my nightly missions. That would keep pushing me until I finally finished work from exhaustion. That went on until the last exam.
The results were soon announced and I had beaten these batch comrades quite a bit. As we celebrated our faint, I took up my courage to ask him what pulled him down, even though he burned the midnight oil endlessly. He looked surprised and said that since he entered medical school, he had always slept with the room light on because he was afraid of the dark! Dr_kochhar@hotmail.com
The author is Professor of Gastroenterology at PGIMER, Chandigarh
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