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Meet the Covid warrior from Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park!

Dr Mansi Dewan recounts her experience of serving in the ICU ward during the first wave of the pandemic

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Doctors have healed humanity since times immemorial but one’s heart salutes them with renewed vigour for their exceptional service during the pandemic. They were the frontline workers who emerged as the saviours of the nation.

Meet one such saviour, Dr. Mansi Dewan. She is an alumnus of Apeejay School Panchsheel Park, from the batch of 2005. She specialises in the branch of anaesthesia. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Dewan speaks about her inspiration to become a doctor, the best memories from her school days and the situations she faced as a doctor during the first Covid wave. Edited excerpts:

Please tell us about your journey to become a doctor? What was the inspiration behind it?  

My grandfather always wanted me to become a doctor. Since class 8, I was keenly interested in science. I had the desire to become a doctor. My grandfather wanted my father to become a doctor but he never went towards science. My mother on the other hand never wanted me to become a doctor, for it takes a long time and a lot of struggle to become one. However, I never had any family pressure for the same.

Actually, I never had any interest towards the Commerce side and my mind never functioned smoothly in Economics. I was good at Maths and Physics. I was exceptionally good in Biology. So, I always had a focus in my mind that I wanted to become a doctor.

In my senior secondary classes in school, I did not join any coaching centre for the medical entrances. My mom was against the idea and told me to focus on the Board exams. Actually, students couldn’t score well in the Board exams, since they couldn’t balance both the entrance and the school curriculum well. I did a crash course for the entrances later. I had also taken a drop year for the same.

I went on to do my MBBS from Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College in Meerut and my post-graduation from the King George’s Medical University in Lucknow.

 Why did you choose anaesthesia for specialisation?

Anaesthesia was not my first choice. I wanted to be a paediatrician but it wasn’t available in my rank. So I went along with my second choice which is anaesthesia. I never had any interest towards becoming a gynaecologist or other surgical branches. I wanted an end branch. Besides, in anesthesia you are in touch with all fields and you also have a clinical side. It does not involve a hectic life and there is no pressure of settling down. There is a work-life balance in this field.

Please let us take you down the memory lane. What are some of your best memories from the time you spent at Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park?

Class 11 and 12 years were very good. We had a very nice group. We used to go to the field to play cricket whenever we found the time. We were very mischievous in Maths classes and we used to gossip in the English classes. We went to fill our bottles just before the English class began. Ma’am would enter before us and wouldn’t let us enter for we were late. We loved playing catch-catch in the class. So all of these mischiefs are very special memories now. I was good in studies, among the top 10 students but I never stood out for my academic performance. But in class 10 I had scored really great all of a sudden. I had my name on the school board and got a scholarship as well. I got 99 in Science and Math. I got a point one certificate from CBSE as well. I was also chosen for a three day course in their research center at North campus.

How did Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, help you in pursuing your passion?

 I have a strong foundation base due to this school. I have studied there since Nursery class. I did my senior secondary classes from here. I did not take any entrance coaching. So, the credit for a strong base goes to the teachers of the school. I had other interests apart from academics as well. I used to play in the basketball team and participate in the dance activities. At Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, you are encouraged to participate in everything.  The overall personality of the student enhances due to the extra-curricular activities and the knowledge the teachers provide.

If you could give advice to a medical student at the school what would it be?

I would say that along with hard work, fate and luck are important factors as well. So, don’t get disheartened in case you are not able to make the entrances.  There are so many fields out there. Just remember to try your best!

You are a Covid warrior. Tell us about your experience as a doctor in the first lockdown?

 I worked in Lok Nayak Hospital for a year during the first wave of the pandemic. Lok Nayak Hospital is the biggest Covid hospital in Delhi. I was on duty in the intensive care unit (ICU) and in the operation theatre (OT). The situation was really terrible, especially in the initial phases. I saw many young patients lose their lives in front of my own eyes. We doctors were really helpless. I saw a 28-year-old girl die and a 90-year-old lady revive and recover. So, no one really knew anything. It came down to a patient’s fate, we doctors only helped them get better to the best of our capabilities.

The situation was very difficult until the vaccine came. We had to wear the PPE kit for 4-5 hours. We had to stand for long hours at times. I often had a six-hour duty in the ICU. It was especially terrible in the summer. The air-conditioners wouldn’t work sometimes. We had to live in a hotel for 15-16 days away from our families and get tested almost every day.

It was really bad but now with the vaccinations, the situation is relatively better. 

Arijit Roy is a young 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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