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Doctors graduate from medical and dental colleges all across the country every year. They are inspired by their seniors, who have been practicing for several years; they get the opportunity to connect to a large number of doctors and medical students over social media and face to face.

Taking care of people is fun, it is what a doctor has chosen to do for the rest of their lives. There is always some stress involved when a patient’s well being or a life is at stake, but it is the kind of stress that gives strength and energises doctors. What actually eats away one’s strength over time and makes one tired and burnt out is the nonsense about making a living in the initial days of one’s practice. Having other sources of income and not being totally dependent on one’s clinical work to make a living can make one’s medical career more fun.

First and foremost, do not be afraid to take care of yourselves. With all there is to learn and do, it is very easy to be consumed by one’s career. It is important to have something outside of medicine that one is passionate about. That could be one’s family, hobby, sports one plays, photography, writing, etc. Whatever it is, take time out for yourself, nurture it and take reward from the satisfaction it provides you.

There are times in your career when one would need to put the needs of your patient above your own. A doctor finds a deep feeling of meaning and satisfaction from doing that; it is a strong component of medical culture. However, it is not only okay, but essential that a doctor attends to his own needs and well being. Not everything in a doctor’s day is an emergency, which, most of the times, people try to make a doctor believe that it is. A doctor has to learn to say no when it seems appropriate. Saying no is difficult sometimes, particularly for doctors.

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A doctor also needs to do all of the things that anyone else has to do to survive, including a proper diet, getting a good night’s sleep, exercise and enjoying a social life with family and friends and laughter. In fact, a doctor needs to do more than survive, he needs to thrive.

Those who are taking control of the health care system, the politicians, administrators and businessmen have no frame of reference to understand why a doctor does what he does. They simply laugh at doctors, thinking to themselves that they can get doctors to do anything, which they do. Perhaps the reluctance of doctors to take care of themselves is the main reason the health care system in the country is in this shape. While doctors have been tired, hungry and focused on our patients, the bureaucracy has slipped in and sidelined doctors in the medical profession.

One has to learn to communicate well, to appreciate the power of language. A thought crosses many times in the mind of a doctor throughout his career that what he does is the important thing, and talking about it with the patient being only an afterthought. This should not be the case, and an equal emphasis, if not more, should be given to the communication between a doctor and their patients.

A patient’s restoration to health takes place in the individual doctor-patient relationship;  a doctor’s ability to fully participate in that depends on his ability to lead a balanced lifestyle as part of a healthy and growing community.  The patients deserve this, and so do the doctors.

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DISCLAIMER : “Views expressed above are the author’s own.”

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Dr. Rohit Sharma
An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and Implantologist, working as an Associate Professor in a dental college in Chandigarh. Graduated from Kurukshetra University and a post graduate alumnus of Pt. B.D. Sharma University of Health Sciences.

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