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‘MBBS docs can easily treat cold or fever, consulting specialists for minor ailments puts strain on the health system’

Abidita Borgohain, an alumna of Apeejay School – Kharghar and Resident Medical Officer at Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, Nerul says if specialists are overburdened with non-serious cases they might fail to diagnose a serious condition

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Hailing from Sivasagar, Assam, Abidita completed her MBBS from Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Assam. In an informal chat, the Resident Medical Officer talks about her school journey, her love for medicine, steps that can be taken to meet the shortage of doctors, and more. Edited excerpts:

Share with us your school journey.

Till class 5, I studied in Assam. Then, my father, who was an engineer at Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), got transferred to Kharghar. Apeejay was not our first choice, as my father was more interested in opting for Kendriya Vidyalaya, but that didn’t materialise as we missed the deadline for admissions. Subsequently, one of my father’s friends strongly advised us to go with Apeejay. My father went by his advice and got me enrolled in Apeejay with a caveat that after a year we will move to another school. However, we loved the school so much that I ended up completing my class 12 from Apeejay. Every step was a learning experience. The school made me what I am today. I will forever be indebted to my teachers for bringing out the best in me. I share a special bond with my teachers and I am still in touch with them.  

What made you get into medicine?

I was always fascinated with human anatomy and the fact that doctors don’t have a retirement age and can serve the patients for a long duration. I am the first doctor in my family so the journey was not easy as there was no one to look up to, but I didn’t have a backup plan. My only option was to get into Medicine. Thankfully I did that. I served in Assam for a year before shifting to Maharashtra.

India has the doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,456 as against the WHO norm of 1:1000. How can India meet the shortage of doctors?

While India has always had a shortage of doctors, the Covid pandemic further brought this issue to the forefront. We need to increase both UG, PG seats.  Though in the last couple of years there has been an increase in the number of MBBS and medical PG seats in India, a lot more needs to be done. The deficit at PG level needs to be given special attention as the seats get lesser as we move up the hierarchy. Also, the mindset of patients is such that for minor ailments such as common cold or fever they consult specialists, an ENT or a General Physician, thereby putting extreme strain on the health system. MBBS docs are fully capable of treating such ailments. For instance, if an MD or a MS treats 50 patients a day almost half of those patients have a cold or fever. If specialists are overburdened with non-serious cases they might fail to diagnose a serious condition. It would be great if patients first consult MBBS doctors who can diagnose the problem and prescribe medicines accordingly or suggest some tests. If test results are not normal, MBBS doctors can then refer the patients to specialists. This will make the job of specialists much easier and will also make treatments more effective.

There is a section that believes doctors must serve for more years in rural areas. What’s your take?

All MBBS graduates seeking a post- graduate degree in medicine or surgery are required to serve in rural areas for one year before they can take the PG entrance examination. The rural population accounts for more than 60% of the total population. I believe good Incentives, better working conditions, adequate security, transportation facilities, etc should be introduced for doctors to work in the rural settings for a longer time period. People must understand that doctors stay in cities for not only making money but also to have a better lifestyle and good education for their children. I agree that the medical profession is a noble mission, but more needs to be done to make it more feasible for doctors to stay in rural areas for a prolonged period.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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