I am a fortunate individual. Fortunate enough to have passed through the pearly gates of central government institutes for my medical graduation and dermatology residency. Fortunate enough to see, on a first-hand basis, the chaotic madness that prevails, therein, and the knowledge and experience that it bestows. My tryst with institutions began at the very start of this millennium, with my graduate college, set against the backdrop of the hallowed Bhairoba Nala in Poona, following which I was commissioned into the Indian Air Force under the Army Medical Corps. I had the proud privilege of serving the nation, and completing my post graduation from the southern tip of Bombay, in the 11 years that ensued.
It is here, that (I firmly believe) the foundation stone was laid down. I vividly remember excerpts and anecdotes from the best minds in the field and nation, literally spoon-fed to us, as hand-me-downs . Alas, for all those who knew and know me, I puffed and pigged away most of that passed down, pre-digested knowledge. What I did manage to do, however, was to learn to use my head. Like literally. Grasp things at a conceptual level. Analyze the hell out of things, concepts, and later, relationships and life, per se. But getting used to deploying my neurons and thinking, no matter what the scenario and situation, is the single most significant habit I picked up.
This habit continued whilst I was in uniform, across the five postings that I had, over a span of eight years. With a (slightly) more structured life and a regimen of sorts, I found even more time to keep my grey cells engaged, and the white ones integrated. I yearned for mental stimulation of varying kinds, at varying echelons, with officers and airmen from other branches – flyers, administrators, aeronautical engineers, medical specialists, radio operators, airframe fitters, logisticians and the likes. And the day I felt that I could no longer derive that, I moved to the civvy street, on completion of my military engagement.
My next venture was into private practice, which was an ephemeral one, and for the first time in many years, I realised how challenging solitary practice can be. Right from owning equipment to man-management, structural and infrastructural liabilities to simply relying (wholly and solely) on yourself for diagnosis and management, takes a lot of getting used to. Fleeting, I moved to a semi-government, municipal teaching hospital, where I have been ever since, even as I write this blog.
It is here that I continue to be challenged, where I ‘unlearn, learn and relearn’ (quoted by an eminent instructor during my training) on a daily basis. The first week that I got inducted here as faculty, truly proved to me why, I was here in the first place. I slipped into a heating argument regarding the molecular weight of a common autologous blood extract that we routinely inject, its lipophilicity and it’s inability to achieve its target depth, without the use of a chemical or physical enhancer. And all this, being demonstrated, by my department head, on a juicy red apple! This in-depth knowledge, ‘getting-to-the-bottom-of-things-attitude’, and over-simplification, is what I have come to crave. And that is precisely why government setups always have, and still continue to charm me!
Disclaimer – This is an extremely personal and pointed rant. This is, by no means, an ignominy of anyone or any organization. I wish to place on record, that I spent a considerable amount of time stationed in peripheral bases, with a meagre 14 months in a tertiary hospital. For everyone who knows me personally, knows that I am a by-product, exclusively, of the services, for and to which, I shall forever be in debt. I know of people, far brilliant and accomplished than I shall ever be, in the organizations I left behind, who challenge themselves, their superiors and subordinates alike, every single day. The same goes for my friends and colleagues in private practice. I, myself, as a matter of fact, have a limited and exceedingly humble private practice.