Medical School Life (IV)

The years passed, one after another we passed various exams which were all tough experiences. They used to play with the adrenal system and virtually exhaust the adrenal hormones! During these various examination periods everyone used to be tense and tired. Talking about these medical college examinations with one of the college’s gold medalists, he said to me, “The impression you give when you are in medical college starts right from first stage (class test). That, in fact, forms the basis of your final test. But one can be better than the best”, he added. And “Make a 3-dimensional image of the subject in your mind and try to understand the subject well.

Only then it will stay longer in your mind.” These were pearls from another gold medalist in our college. I remember one of our Professors often saying, “All of you are intelligent, but your hard work will determine how far you will go in your career. Remember that if you stop at any level, you will be stuck there”, he would often add.

“On which side does this bone belong, and what are its attachments?”, asked the Professor while handing over a fibula to me in my final MBBS exam. I was initially stuck, as it was something I had crammed up for in the first MBBS passed four years earlier, but luckily I recollected the TEEP muscles mnemonic – tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum superficialis , extensor halucis longus and peroneus tertius – and remembered that they all start from the fibula and are supplied by the deep peroneal nerve. “What is the nerve supply?” Prof. lowered his glasses and asked me further. “The deep peroneal nerve, Sir”, I replied confidently. Thanks to the mnemonic I could reply to this question but unfortunately the Professor felt that I knew everything there is to know about osteology, and handed over another bone, this time a rib. I had no mnemonic in my head about this rib, so I could remember nothing about it. Of course mnemonics are very good aids to memory, but at times we students would only remember the mnemonics themselves and not what they represented. No sooner had I stepped out of the examination room than I asked myself “Why did Prof. ask me a First MBBS question in the final MBBS?” However, years later I realized how important it is to have basic scientific knowledge as well as extensive experience in clinical practice all along in your career. In most of other branches of endeavour, people tend to forget things after they have completed their courses, but as a medical student, one needs to refresh your knowledge every now and then and carry all subjects safely in your memory. There are many things one only understands slowly, and it is true that some things you only really learn after you have finished your course. The key thing is though, that your thirst for knowledge must never die. One must go on endlessly enriching it and adding to it.

All of us were thrilled when we passed our final MBBS exams, and to join our profession as interns. However, with the passage of time, we came to know that we were somewhere near the shore of a great ocean of knowledge. Nowadays, the emphasis is to know more and more about less and less, in other words, to specialize more and more narrowly. Doctors tend to go for super specialization now, but over the years I have observed that some doctors are delivering better patient care, even without specialization, and vice versa. All branches in medicine have potential and scope, for it is the person practicing it and not the profession that matters. It is a job that requires a passion for knowledge and devoted care of their patients.

While recounting these tales of my life as a medical student, I relive our happy salad days like many of the people in my GMC batch. All of us are proud of this great institution, its hospitals and its faculty. Over the years I have observed that despite cultural and language differences, all patients demand love and care. Patients are the saints of humanity and I love my work as a physician. Giving people hope, consoling them when necessary, and providing them with optimism all help a great deal in the management of patients. Furthermore, I believe our work demands very good communication skills, and the ability to work in a team. We must have due respect for our seniors, and love for our juniors. Sincerity, and the latest knowledge at all levels both count a lot in the management of patients, and these are our tools.

I don’t feel it out of place to mention that patients also need to remember that doctors are human beings too, and not angels. They hold dreams in their hearts as well, and they too have personal lives. Patients should not expect miracles. All diseases are not curable, and in some diseases even doctors cannot help.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

– Lao Tzu


 Excerpt from the Book Bumby Roads authored by Dr. Ibrahim Masoodi.He can be mailed at