To become a doctor, you spend four and a half years of your tiny life in the medical school. When you start, you have that spark, the will to excel, you (and your parents) are on cloud 9. I have seen a junior ask a senior, with all the seriousness on his face, “Sir, Top karne ke liye kitna padhna padta hai?”
And when you somehow manage to survive this brutal massacre, you enter into this new world where you are no longer supposed to remember complex names but learn the process to make the patient healthy. And this is different from anything that you have done before or seen people doing. It’s called the internship.
It starts from something as simple as drawing blood! (Actually, that’s most of what you do). The first time that I was asked to draw blood, I had only seen it being done a couple of times. I was explained the procedure… just push the needle into the vein and draw. Simple! Well, it is. But the thrill you get when your needle punctures the vein and dark red blood gushes into the syringe is immense.
As time goes by, you start doing things that are way cooler than sucking blood out of every vein you can see. Pushing a needle up patient’s spine and collecting the CSF… How cool is that? With a little practice these are fairly easy procedures. But the sense of accomplishment is what makes everything else worthwhile.
This is just the start. As you go to the surgical side, the journey becomes more thrilling. Not able to find the vein and your patient needs fluids? No problem! Let’s cut it open and put a catheter right in the vein. Excising cysts, suturing wounds, draining abscesses, they all are much more interesting when done than read.
What you also end up doing for most of your surgical posting is dressing wounds. And not just clean healing wounds… there are ulcers that have been rotting since months waiting for you to dress them. Then there are wounds with maggots crawling out of them. Wounds with muscles and tendons exposed and pus draining. And you are supposed to clean it all up and try to make it healthy!
Then there are the surgeries. The first time you hold the knife and incise the skin, it’s a really scary moment. What if I cut too much?, you think. And then you see your senior butcher his way in. It’s all so exciting to see blood on your gloves, even if all that you have done is no more than retracting the skin! And then there is your first surgery as first surgeon! Of course it’s going to be just a hydrocele surgery, but the excitement of cutting things open is great!
And then there is the part where you deliver babies. Really scary… you start to try to remember all the various ways the baby has to bend his way out, something that had twisted your brain in the final year and would definitely put the best yoga gurus to shame! And then all of a sudden, the head pops out… after a few chants of laga laga the shoulder, the hand, trunk and finally the legs are out! And then you start to think… what did you really do? Why in the name of god did you learn all those relations of the fetal head with the maternal pelvis, when all you had to do is some fielding practice!
And how can we forget the OPD. You sit there seeing patients after patients, referring most of them to the specialists. And every now and then, prescribing them… that’s right, prescribing them drugs! This is such a wonderful feeling of… grandeur!
All this sprinkled with a bucket load of clerical jobs is internship in a nutshell. Yes, it gets monotonous at times. Your PGs would make you go through all sorts of crap. At times you would be stuck in the wards for days, cut off from the outside world. But what this does is makes you feel like a part of the system. You can now associate yourself with the medical profession. Internship as a whole is many small experiences put together. Each one special, each one different, each one thrilling. And when seen together, it’s one heck of an adventure!