Medicine in Pakistan

Hello there!

Since the last time I logged on here, I got admission in medicine in Pakistan and I am now in my 3rd year.

Today I would just like to share the feelings I have experienced in the last 2 years.

Mostly the reason for coming to Pakistan instead of studying in UK was the ultimate desire to stay with my family when my dad (also a doctor) decided to work in his home country. At that time, although I was excited for the new experience, but also a little nervous. I had no idea the roller coaster ride the last 2 years were going to be! In the first month I stayed in a hostel and was exposed to the horrifying conditions the hostels are still in, in my country. That month was really tough. The idea of university accommodation is so different from UK that unless you see the lack of basic student facilities here, you don’t believe it. However, the greatest advantage of staying in a hostel is making countless friends for life, who are with you in your greatest moments through med school.

Lucky for me, I no longer had to stay in hostel after the first month and shifted to my home. The difficulty though was far from over. From the very small lecture hall with hard and broken benches instead of comfy sofa seats, the lecturer blabbering on for 6 hours with no breaks in btw, to the countless pointless and boring practicals in which we are still dictated to! Medicine is tough in Pakistan, but especially in our college. The complete lack of support from any teacher in case you encounter a problem and the constant wondering of how your problem will be solved instead of having the comfort of talking to a teacher and clarifying your doubts. In addition, our college is an all-girl’s college, which to me seems very pointless and makes the atmosphere lack the diversity it should have in order to become a well-rounded future doctor.

On the first day of hostel, there is no such thing as ‘mental toughness’ and everybody breaks down crying, while seniors who are now well-adjusted and happy comfort us with soft words of a bright future.

But with all the negative shades, I found plenty of golden opportunities. Some of these while abroad may come in the scope of ‘lack of ethics’ but give you as a student, an open opportunity for learning. I am talking about the plentiful bodies of humans (not necessarily donated) upon which we dissect throughout the year. When the dissection months are over, all the limbs are separated and preserved. Anyone can freely walk into Dissection Hall and ask a helper to get the limb out. Then there are the spotting days in which you have to identify the feature pinpointed on the limb in exactly a minute, with 10 spots in total. This is THE dreaded day second to the VIVA days in which students are freely questioned on the limbs and specimens. The day before any viva or spotting day, the Dissection Hall is crowded with all 50 shades of students; the ID experts, the wannabes, the hopeless that come in the hope of understanding a word or two from all the knowledgeable heads on the last day, speeding from table to table trying to atleast see what every specimen looks like.

You get the idea. It is a fantastic opportunity which even if available in UK schools might not be as freely available for students on any given time like it is in our college.

Pakistan is a different place, a different culture, but has its own wonderful and unique opportunities for those who seek. Above all, never have I seen in my whole life students as dedicated, hardworking and committed 24/7 to studying. Studying in Pakistan requires a mental rigour and while learning here, you as a student develop a ‘tough shell’ which is much needed for becoming a good doctor who can withstand the pressures of every day life.

Overall, I have found it a humbling experience so far and look forward to the new chapter of 3rd year that I am currently experiencing. There is a lot more I want to say, but thought of starting with a few things I had in mind about medicine in Pakistan for my first blogpost after ages.

Let me know what you think!

Why do i want to be a doctor?

Hello everyone,

It has been quite a while since i came here. I was just busy with exams and ucas. But I thought that today i will review my reasons of why I am so passionate about medicine. You might have heard a lot of people say who have parents as doctors that their parents inspired them and that they were passionate about medicine since childhood. Mine might sound like a similar story. My father is a doctor and that naturally attracted me towards medicine even when I was a child. However a child’s mind is not very mature and at that tender age my reasons for being attracted towards medicine stemmed totally from the fact that I thought all doctors do is save many lives everyday and get many rewards, amounting to a great satisfaction in their lives.

However as I grew up I learnt a lot more about medicine and that it is not all about rewards. I was never very passionate about medicine in childhood, but I did have a certain attraction towards it. As I grew up that feeling got stronger and I realised that medicine is the right career for me. I got to know a lot about the harsh realities of medicine as a career from my dad himself. But a lot of the knowledge came from surfing the internet and doing my own research. My dad would always come home with a fascinating story to tell of how he saved someone’s life after a serious complication and how that gave him great satisfaction. However some days he would also come home very tired from his hectic routine where he perhaps did not achieve what he wanted to. But mostly I heard about the positive side of medicine from him. I realised that there are some difficulties in medicine as well; such as the long hours, hectic routine (also depending on the specialty), the many problems doctors face today and the tough decision making that doctors have to sometimes do which can sometimes go wrong.

I learnt that the reason my father often mentioned only the positive side of medicine was because despite all the hurdles that the doctors have to overcome and the stress they undergo from their daily routine, the rewards still make you feel very great about yourself and make you forget the difficulties you faced because they were worth it. As they say, “All’s well that end’s well.” And that is what happens a lot of the times in medicine as well.

When I realised that despite all the difficulties there are great rewards and at the end of the day the satisfaction of helping people is what matters most to a doctor, It helped me decide that I also want to become a doctor. There are many other reasons as well which I will outline briefly in the coming paragraphs but I can never say enough about medicine so I will try to outline the main points succinctly. But before I do that I mentioned earlier the difficulties that doctors face today. And I think the major difficulty doctors face today are when dealing with patients.

Awareness of one’s health and treatments for common diseases is much more prominent today than it ever was. People are now a lot more aware of the risks they face in daily lives and the simple things that can sometimes be done to avoid complications or illnesses. Although this is a very good thing and a major improvement in today’s times, but it comes with its own challenges. I think the greatest challenge today is that the internet can give you a whole range of unfiltered information, some of which may be wrong or misleading in some cases. Patients will now tend to trust their own research and knowledge more than the doctor, in many cases. When going to the doctor, they might expect to get a similar diagnoses to what their friends or family gave them or be suggested a treatment that they think will work for them. Or in some cases expect to hear that they don’t need treatment at this stage when they do. Patients are also a lot more aware of their rights and the fact that the doctor is obliged to take an informed consent from the patient whenever he can and explain the procedure, in cases when surgery is needed, and what are the risks involved.

Whereas in the past, patients had full trust in the doctor and it was unheard of to question anything the doctor had said, nowadays this is being increasingly seen. Sometimes patients can be very difficult and unco-operative, not realising the urgency of the situation or the seriousness of their illness. This can prove to be difficult for doctors. Although this is not always the case and in developing countries, although patients are many times more reluctant for treatment because of lack of awareness of the advantages and risks, they still trust the doctor more and are not aware of their rights as a patient.

Consequently, patients may many times be misguided by the doctor regarding their treatment, in developing countries, but that is an issue that I want to dwell on in greater depth in a seperate post at a later date. Coming back to the topic at hand, although doctor face these and many more challenges such as having to deal with more administrative tasks and having to deal  with salesmen and drug companies knocking at their door, however I think that being a doctor involves not just having the knowledge and skill to ‘save lives’ and deal with real-life scenarios in an effective and responsible manner, but also involves having good interpersonal skills when dealing with patients and having a very caring and empathetic approach towards patients that can convince patients that they can trust you.

Furthermore, other than the rewards that doctors reap from their hard work and commitment which is one reason for me wanting to be a doctor, there are some other reasons which I want to outline. I also feel that I have the personal qualities that would make me a good doctor. I realised this while working in a care home and doing my hospital work experiences as well as doing charity work and playing a supportive role as a St John’s cadet. Also, while working as part of a team in Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Level, I realised that I have the interpersonal skills, the caring and empathetic approach to other people, and the ability to work as part of a team and support other team members. I will deal with my activites and work experience in a seperate blog post but I wanted to outline that as a reason for wanting to be a doctor, because of what I feel I can give to medicine.

Moreover, while on my work experience in Pakistan, I was deeply saddened by the difficulties many people in the general population face there, especially financial difficulties, and it motivated me to want to help people in my country, sometime in the future when I become a doctor. It would also depend on my specialty and the practicalities of the set-up in Pakistan, but I had a great desire to go there someday as a fully trained doctor, and perhaps open up a free clinic there to help the extremely poor but needy in Pakistan.

On the other hand, if i really want to help people I could go into law or nursing. At one point i was also actually considering law. But then when I took up my Alevel Studies, i realised that as well as the desire to help people, my passion was also to study science alongside that and learn about the fascinating workings of the human body. But i did not want to purely study science with no clinical environment to apply that knowledge in and support my primary motivation which was to help people. Answering the questions of why I do not want to become a nurse, is that although I like the aspect of their job which helps people as well but a doctor is more involved in the decision-making process regarding the patient as well as the diagnoses of disease and the decision involving treatment, while being the leader of the whole team that supports a patient. And I liked those aspects of a doctor’s job that make them unique to a nurse’s job which is also driven by a motivation to help people.

I think I have outlined the main reasons I want to do medicine, and for now I will bid goodbye but from now on I will try and keep updating regularly on this blog. So watch this space! But in the meanwhile all the want-to-be doctors out there can share with me their motivations behind wanting to become a doctor. Please drop in your comments everyone!


My first blog post-“Hope springs eternal from the human breast”

Hello everyone,

It has been a long time since I came here. I had some problems with my account on the old website and then have just successfully managed to make a new account on the updated medlink website. It feels good to be back. I have had a long journey with lots of ups and downs since I came here last time. Now I am preparing for my January exams and may not come very frequently to start off with but after my exams finish, I will spend more time here. As exams are nearing the pressure is increasing and the stress as well. Anyone else feeling the same way?

So since it is my first blog post I just wanted to get started with a short post. Since it is the Mayan prophecy day today thought I will discuss that here. I was wondering whether anyone actually believes in it? It is scary to think that you could actually predict the future like that or if that was not the intention of the Mayans then today which marks the end of one of their 3 important calendars, has been very wrongly interpreted to mean that today is the end of the world. Although I never believed in it but it is interesting to see how a message passed along the generations could be so wrongly misinterpreted to mean something that it did not mean at all in the first place. But does the fact that even a few people may believe in it or be scared of today, represent our phobia and constant fear of the unknown future.

Where issues like global warming  and climate change have become such a familiar rhythm to everyone’s ears, do these kind of ‘prophecies’ make us fear evermore what we have been fearing so much in the past decade. How people who did even have an iota of belief in today’s ‘prophecy’ are going to live past this day, knowing that it was all just a misinterpretation of a simple message passed over the generations is beyond me. But for me it represents the growing fear of the unknown and the somewhat dark future we are heading towards. These kind of things just make us grip to our fear even more. Who knows when the world will actually end and whether it can ever be prophesied. With so many recent medical and healthcare advances in the past 50 years than there have not been in the whole of the history of mankind, what will be our future and if we know it, what will be our reaction. Does knowing the future even change anything in anyway. Can we after knowing the future, ever prepare for it.

These are questions that only time can answer but what we do in the meanwhile depends on our personal beliefs and moral values. A person’s religion and beliefs deeply affect their actions and their life. And if someone’s life does not revolve around religion then it has to revolve around something. For some, science is the perfect answer; for others it may well have been the belief in the Mayan prophecy. It is human nature to cling to some belief, to something that allows us to see light or perhaps some answer in the dark tunnel ahead of all of us. If we can’t get a consolation in the fact that everything will be alright, then as human nature goes, we console ourselves by removing the uncertainty in our path. That allows us to be practical, logical; to be able to think ahead and formulate a plan that allows us to form a new belief in the future, a belief that if nothing is going to be alright then atleast we have tried our best to try and make it alright or to survive through it. Like the horrifying Newtown killings in US represent a fear of the ever growing problem of violence in the US and what we do to stop it? What adds to our horror is that we cannot find a reason for it.

Why did Adam Lanza decide to use his mother’s guns, first to kill her and then to kill many innocent schoolchildren later on. What is even more horrifying is that not only was there no apparent reason for the killings, we can also find no apparent reason to his killings if he knew that this was going to end with him leaving the world. The human mind wants some kind of reason. We could still not have commited the heinous crime ourselves even if we do find out a plausible reason, such as revenge, money or the deterioration of his mental health. However after finding out the reason (if we ever do), we might understand why he did it. Why he had to ruin a perfect Friday, where many are excitedly preparing for the well-awaited weekend ahead. Where many parents will be waiting for their children so they could spend a nice weekend with them; what would their reaction have been when the weekend came and went, but their child was not by their side to bring a smile to their face.

This comes back to my point that whatever our excuse, we do need some kind of belief, some kind of understanding of the future. Whether we use science and medicine to explain it or whether we use religious scriptures to comfort ourselves of the future, we as humans do need something to cling onto. For me, being a Muslim, it is the Quran which I use to regulate my daily activities around. But for others it may well have been the Mayan prophecy. And when tomorrow comes, they will need to find some sort of excuse to either explain why the world did not end, or to simply admit that they misunderstood and to cling on to another belief system. It all boils down to one saying by Alexander Pope, “Hope springs eternal from the human breast.”