When we joined medical college there was this standard joke, we called it the evolution of the medical student.
The swagger and I am on top of the world kind of attitude. The kid would walk into the movie hall with bunch of other equally boisterous and ill-behaved kid and brag, ”pre-med man” of course he would look disdainfully at the old frumpy guy next to him in the movie hall with the same empathy as one gave an albino cockroach.
Then pre-med hero lands on terra-firm at the anatomy hall, and initiation into the charmed world of medicine we realize is guarded zealously by the keepers called the anatomy teachers. The swagger seems to slow and the voice drops an octave.
The first day with stethoscope is another high, when we enter the clinics, one really wants to flaunt it by throwing the stethoscope round the neck like a medallion, until the nurse signals, take it off, that is the privilege of qualified doctors. So quietly one slips the stethoscope into the pocket, the apron or the white coat is now less shiny,
This is the first day of rounds with boss, the reporting time is 7.30 because the PG will brief the intern, who in turn will brief you, and you have to present the case, the rounds begins at 8 am and hey presto remember the frumpy old man you were rude at the movie hall, he turns out to be the proffie… tralalala… where’s the drown hole in the rink tralalala…so that I can sink. (to be sung along the lines of brown girl in the ring) the professor moreover turns out to be the one who is in everyone’s nightmare.
Finally, finally the stethoscope goes round the neck and our name gets the prefix doctor and we turn interns. Here is where the fun begins.
Our day’s dental students didn’t do internship, so most of us joined in as clinical assistance. The distinction between the assistant and intern is very simple, the assistant gets paid and has defined duties while the interns don’t paid and are general dogsbody. But of course interns are paid in experience. We scored over the MBBS guys because we got our experience and got paid for it.
For my own internship I left the comfort zone of Manipal and went to Dharwad which was back of backwaters for me. the first shock was no one wore skirts, which was the accepted dress code at Manipal, and the lady staff wore salwar kameez which was a not accepted dress code at Manipal. I remember walking down the corridor and a senior faculty tells me,
“Doctor you have nice legs,” well I do not know if it was his way of telling me not wear skirts, or if he was just sexually harassing me, of course this area was a bit not acknowledged those days. And with that particular doctor it was a no no because his daughter Ketaki was my classmate at school. Anyway I rushed out and brought salwar kameez.
The entire year was that of learning, it was like an initiation into the big bad world of corporate medical education. I was the hostel warden so I could see money being manipulated, and people being manipulated. That was scary.
The nice parts were there too, the experience of having dental chairs and seeing ninety patients in a day, we did something like 48 extractions in a day, inject the patient on chair one, inject patient on chair 2, inject patient on chair 3, inject patient on chair four. Extraction, patient on chair one, clean up and inject the next patient and move on to extraction on chair two the cycle just went on.
It was amazing how the entire system worked.
When it came to conservative, it was like a marathon, we did not move from our chairs, one particular day I remember a patient who came in to pick a fight with me, because he had an 10’clock appointment with me, I did not attend to him till 12noon, of course that day three of the five doctors in the department had called sick and the 4th one was attending to a major surgery.
Internship period is a beautiful one, like a passage of rite to indicate the transition from one stage to the another, from adolescence to adulthood, this is the phase were many relationships begin to take on their own path and identities while the old ones mute and fade.