Surprised by the title of the post? Well, dont be startled..Choosing a medical specialty in India can be likened to an arranged Indian marriage. Recently i cracked two entrance examinations for getting into postgraduate medical education. During the process of choosing a specialty i found out some really interesting similarities between the process of choosing a career and an Indian marriage.
In India you just cant go and marry the girl you love, you will get ostracized. Although the scenario has changed at many places because of better education and awareness, it is still rampant. So, before you want to marry a girl, your parents should like her and agree. Not only that, all the close relatives must give a nod too. Its only after this that a happy arranged marriage takes place.
Now, medical education...The only doctors that lay people respect here are surgeons and physicians(internal medicine). Or should i say people know only these two. Branches like biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and few other para-clinical specialities are totally unheard of. People specializing in these branches are seen as lab technicians. And anesthetists, many people dont know there is a speciality like that. They stay behind masks in the operation theater and totally get unnoticed! Pathetic! So parents tend to force their children into either surgery or internal medicine. Because they want everyone to know that their son/ daughter has gone on to become a great doctor and not just a pathologist or a microbiologist. With the increasing competition in India for post-graduate education, this situation leads to lot of stress on young doctors.
And coming to the specialty i chose in first round of counseling, Psychiatry..The word itself raises many eyebrows! The moment you say i have chosen MD Psychiatry, people say 'Really?' 'Are you sure?' 'Why psychiatry?, Didn't you have any other branch?' 'Psychiatrists have the highest suicide rates!' 'You want to treat insane people all your life?'(Reminds me of the quote "No one is sane!" lols) 'Have you thought about the Countertransference?' (Countertransference is defined as redirection of a psychotherapist's feelings toward a client or, more generally, as a therapist's emotional entanglement with a client. It is the entire body of feelings that the therapist has toward the patient, and also includes cases where the therapist literally takes on the suffering of his/her patient.) The list of startled expressions and pityful statements goes on and on..
To me, Psychiatry gives the opportunity where one person reveals to another his or her innermost concerns, in hope of healing. It creates a relationship, where we earn our patients' trust, and are privileged to learn about fears and worries that our patients may not have shared—or ever will share—with another living soul!
So in India, you just cant choose a specialty because you love it. Parents and relatives should be proud to tell that you are specializing in something, you should choose such a specialty. The situation gets even complicated if one is already married or have a partner. And only after all this dreary process, you can be brave enough to choose a specialty that you love or just compromise with something that everyone else wants you to be!
(Is this the fate of doctors in other countries too?Please give opiniions in comments)
(P.S - I would have put the title of post as 'married to psychiatry'...but there is a second round of counseling, in which i may choose internal medicine which has been my first preferrence, second is psychiatry..so for time being, I am engaged to psychiatry!)