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‘Doctors must treat every patient like a family member’

Orthopedic surgeon and Apeejay Panchsheel Park alumnus Dr. Nishit Bhatnagar gives us a peek into a working day in his life and also shares valuable advice for those who want to study medicine

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Dr. Nishit Bhatnagar is an orthopedic surgeon who specialises in joint replacement, preservation and sports injuries. He is an Apeejay School Panchsheel Park alumnus, from the batch of 2005. In a wide-ranging interview, he shares his inspiration to become a doctor, the impact of the pandemic on frontline workers and some of his best memories from school. Edited excerpts:

Please tell our readers about your work profile?

I did my MBBS from University College of Medical Sciences Dilshad Garden. Then I secured the first rank in Delhi and sixth rank at the All India level in the post-graduation entrance. It was then that I chose orthopaedic surgery. It was my passion. I pursued my specialisation at the Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi.  Then I had some training programmes in Mumbai, Germany and England.

I am settled in Delhi at present. I have my own clinic, a very nice little clinic in Alaknanda. I am working with Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, the  National Heart Institute and Sama Hospital.

 My work day involves an early morning slot from 8-10 AM in the morning for short surgeries and small procedures. Then I do a two-hour shift in my clinic from 10-12 pm. From 12-5 pm, that time slot is reserved for bigger surgeries and the rounds and visits at various hospitals. Then from 6 pm to 8 pm, I work again at my clinic. Apart from this, I give a couple of hours on alternate days to a charitable institution where I go and see roughly some 25-30 patients in a two hour window. So in a nutshell my day is a packed day.

I work on all six days of the week. On Sundays, I work for 2-3 hours in the morning. I used to visit certain rural areas before the pandemic. There is a small rural township called Raya near Mathura. It is at a distance of 40-45 km from Delhi.  It has no orthopedic facility, actually no doctor in a radius of 50 km.

I used to go there every week. But due to the pandemic, then the agitations at Delhi borders, I had to put it on hold. But now I am thinking of re-starting it soon. It was a very fulfilling experience for me.

Please tell us about the steps you took towards becoming a doctor?

I was an academically gifted student at school. From the beginning of class 12, I made it my mission that I really want to become a doctor. I got that realisation in class 12 and I worked very hard that year.

Fortunately, I made it through the entrances in my first attempt. I got into a good college within Delhi itself. MBBS is a tough journey, five and half years of rigorous study followed by internship. After that, I sat for a year at home and studied very hard for the post-graduation entrance exams. That is when I secured the first rank in Delhi and rank six in all of India.  

What was the inspiration behind becoming a doctor?

Initially I wanted to become a scientist. But somehow with time, I realised that in India scientists don’t get the amount of recognition and respect they deserve. Doctors get that respect and fame. So, I looked up to the doctors and tried to follow in their footsteps.

Let’s rewind to your school life, what were some of the best memories from the Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park ?

The best time I had in school were the last two years: class 11 and 12. I had a fantastic bunch of friends and we didn’t waste a single minute at school. Whenever we got free, even if for 10 minutes, we used to rush to the field to play football. Even if it was 45 degrees in the summer or 4 degrees in winters, we would play with all our heart. We were that crazy about football at that time. I look back on those days very fondly.

I don’t want to be boastful but I was a super scholar in school, which is what one becomes when one is a scholar for three consecutive years. I was an academic scholar from class 5 to class 12. My class 12 studies were split between preparing for entrances and board exams. I remember, I had got 95 in all four subjects, except language (laughs)

What life lessons would you give to a young medical students at school?

Well, I would say that there are no shortcuts to success especially in the field of medicine. Here, after a lot of hard work in the initial years, the rewards arrive at a later stage. One must practice what is said in the Bhagavad-Gita, “Karm kare jao, fal ki pratiksha mat karo”.  This is especially true for the medical fraternity.

In an orthopedic surgery, the end result or the success of the surgery will be seen 3-4 months down the line when the bone actually unites. So one has to do their bit with utmost honesty. Patients are quick to grasp if the doctor has good intentions or not, if s/he is doing his best in an honest and dedicated manner.

If they find that you are doing your best, they will always revere you, like people do in the traditional mode by perceiving doctors as saviours comparable to God. 

So hard work, honesty and integrity are must. There is no space in the medical fraternity to be money minded. We can’t think of this as business. There are no customers, only patients and every patient has to be treated like a family member.  

As a doctor, please update us about the effect of Covid-19 pandemic in healthcare and medicine?

The larger public has suffered much more than the medical fraternity. So, we are all suffering together. Of course, when an epidemic hits, the initial wave affects the medical community the most, since the doctors, nurses, para-medical staff are the front line workers who take the biggest hit.

As doctors, we don’t have the work from home option. One has to take all the precautions but keep on working nevertheless. It is a part and parcel of the job. One has to be brave and go ahead with it. That is what the nation and the people need. If doctors stop working at this moment, it will all be utter chaos.

As doctors, we have found a few innovative ideas to counter the Covid-19 pandemic effect. There were a few emergency surgeries that were critically urgent for the patient. In some of the cases, we could not wait for the patient’s Covid test results. So we converted the hospital room into an operating room for the surgery. It included enormous risk on the operating team as well as on the other staff members but it was crucial.

Precautions still need to be taken. Social distancing is the main exercise and of course, wearing a mask regularly.

In previous times, we went to school with even a little cold and cough as we didn’t wish to skip the day or a class but in today’s new world, it is in everybody’s interest that anyone who has even the slightest symptom should stay at home.

Arijit Roy is a trainee correspondent at Apeejay newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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