Contributing Writer – Shtakshi Gupta

Name – Adarsh Sai Jindal

Profession – Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist in USA

Age – 34

Gender – Male

City – Lexington, Kentucky (U.S.A.)

Industry – Healthcare

Insights

  1. Time is one personal resource that you will have to invest a lot of, in this line of work both in terms of the years of studying, giving examinations and residency before you can start practicing.
  2. Medicine is a field wherein learning in the form of reading and studying never ends. Even seasoned doctors have to study up on new procedures and keep themselves abreast of all advancements in their fields.
  3. You need to have a perfect balance of intelligence and hard work going into this field. Intelligence, since every case is unique and will test your knowledge and skills to the limit and hard work because you have to be willing to put in the time and effort needed to maintain that intelligence in a field where you are constantly learning something new.
  4. As doctors facing ethical dilemmas in the line of work is very common. When faced with tricky situations you have to do your best to maintain your moral standards, work ethic and honour the Hippocratic Oath.
  5. This profession is indubitably associated with good financial compensation albeit it comes at a later stage than what is seen in most professions.

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and brought up in Mandi Gobindgarh, Punjab.

What is your family background?

I hail from a middle-class family, my father has a cloth business and my mother is a housewife. I am the youngest of 3 siblings; my 2 elder sisters are both teachers.

Who all had the most influence on you and how?

My elder sisters had a huge role to play, they were both preparing for the medical entrance exams and I always used to hear how insurmountable it was, that spurred me on and made me want to rise up to the challenge. I also used to revere our primary doctor in my hometown, I admired the work he was doing, the positive changes he made in people’s lives, I saw how people held him in high regard and all that drew me towards this profession.

Please give us a summary of your career, chronologically, including organisation names and your role/designation.

I did my MBBS from Government Medical College, Chandigarh. After that I worked as a junior resident in the ENT department at GMC College, then I prepared for my USMLE exams (a 3-step exam needed to obtain a medical license in US). During this time, I worked at the ESI hospital, Chandigarh.

Then I came to US and worked as research fellow at Creighton University, Nebraska from 2009–2011. After that I did my medical residency in internal medicine at Loma Linda University, California from 2014–2017. Then I joined the fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at University of Kentucky in July 2017 and this will go till June 2020. So, qualification-wise I’m currently M.D and once I finish my training I’ll be D.M.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of this profession?

For MBBS, Government Medical College, Chandigarh was brilliant. It’s easily among the top 5 in India, so I’d definitely recommend that. Any well-reputed government college for that matter is a good place to be. In US, both Loma Linda University and University of Kentucky’s medical centers are surgery institutions with a high patient load and very complicated surgical cases. So, based upon the number of patients, the varying procedures you do, offer a pretty rigorous and learning-based atmosphere to work in.

What are the costs associated with the education/training of this profession?

For my MBBS, since it was a government college, I had to pay about 10,000 per annum as tuition fee and then hostel cost was about 10,000–12,000 a year. If you do your MBBS from a private institution it can run into lakhs of rupees. In medical residency and fellowship, you get a stipend, so there’s no cost associated with it. Basically, after MBBS, there’s not much expenditure involved once you get into M.D and D.M.

What are the typical entry level jobs in this profession?

After you finish your MBBS you can work in an academic institution in a junior residency position. These are usually not permanent positions, they are made for students who preparing for their M.D. examinations and allows them to continue earning money and do clinical patient work.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

 
Above figures are indicative figures and may vary from person to person

Describe your work? What do you typically do on a normal work day?

I get to the hospital about 7–7:30 am, then I do certain procedures like endoscopy and they run till noon or 1 pm. Then we have a conference and/or case presentation following which we have lunch. After that depending on what kind of rotation I have, sometimes I have clinic and I see patients till 5–6 pm, other times I’m on-call, there is in-patient service, so I see patients in the hospital and do procedures, that can go from 1 pm to 9–10 pm.

What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

In terms of things that would incentivize someone to consider this job, financial gains are definitely one. Yes, you have to wait till you’re well into your 30’s but then pay is good later on. Another thing to consider is when you are a doctor people tend to hold you in high-esteem not to mention the warmth and gratitude you receive from your patients.

It’s highly satisfying and this has 2 aspects to it. One, is that you talk to all these different folks and help them out when they are in distress so the moral and personal satisfaction that stems from doing that is priceless. The other is intellectual satisfaction, like if you are a person who likes to challenge your brain then you will feel good about yourself in this line of work.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

  • The biggest challenge is time. There’s no short-cut when it comes to that. You invest a lot of time into it right from when you’re young; it’s a very protracted process so the key is persistence.
  • Another thing is that there is a lot of reading involved, medicine as a field is constantly changing so you have to keep yourself update to date, and it’s a life-long learning process that doesn’t stop when you start practicing. Accordingly, it requires a lot of patience and cognizance of the fact that you are going to study throughout your life.
  • Then there are the ethical dilemmas we face in our day-to-day jobs, the most common one is mental competence, in the sense that when someone comes in, we diagnose them and offer them the appropriate treatment which could be lifesaving but sometimes the patient refuses despite knowing that they could very well die or how detrimental it could be to their health. It’s not like you can force them to take the treatment and that makes you wonder where your responsibility as a physician starts and ends. Another one is cost consideration; sometimes the treatment plan isn’t covered by the person’s insurance or is too expensive in those cases we do our best to look for cheaper but medically sound options but sometimes there are no alternatives and we left at the mercy of social welfare programs which don’t always come through.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding premium in your job profile?

Yes, here in the US the thing that had a profound impact on the medical profession was the use of electronic medical records. Since the transition from paper to electronic wasn’t gradual initially; it was really cumbersome. We faced a lot of trouble on a day-to-day basis and a lot of companies are still trying to perfect the system. But, these records definitely help.

Previously, when people had hand-written records, it was hard to find a patient’s entire medical history. Handwriting varies from doctor to doctor, so it’s not easy to figure out exactly what was written and this created loophole in a patient’s medical history. Now, if it’s on a centralized record with just one click you can view a patient’s entire history, all the treatments they have undergone, medications prescribed to them by previous doctors etc. It facilitates better coordination of care. It’s a revolutionary thing and US being on the forefront of this technology is still trying to improve it every day.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

One thing’s for sure, if you enter this profession just for the sake of making money you are going to be very disappointed because you don’t earn that money right off the bat, it is the fruit of many long, hard years of labour.

In order to be happy or at least content there are a couple of things you need to have. You need to have an altruistic bent of mind, really feel like you have a responsibility to society. You also need to have intellectual curiosity in abundance in order to really thrive in this line of work because you never know what complications your next case might present, you cannot afford to get de-motivated or bogged down by challenges because someone’s life might depend on it.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned? Would you pursue another profession or a passion perhaps?

No. I would have ended up in medicine anyway because I

  1. Time is one personal resource that you will have to invest a lot of, in this line of work both in terms of the years of studying, giving examinations and residency before you can start practicing.
  2. Medicine is a field wherein learning in the form of reading and studying never ends. Even seasoned doctors have to study up on new procedures and keep themselves abreast of all advancements in their fields.
  3. You need to have a perfect balance of intelligence and hard work going into this field. Intelligence, since every case is unique and will test your knowledge and skills to the limit and hard work because you have to be willing to put in the time and effort needed to maintain that intelligence in a field where you are constantly learning something new.
  4. As doctors facing ethical dilemmas in the line of work is very common. When faced with tricky situations you have to do your best to maintain your moral standards, work ethic and honour the Hippocratic Oath.
  5. This profession is indubitably associated with good financial compensation albeit it comes at a later stage than what is seen in most professions.

it of my own volition from the very beginning. I was never pushed into it by peer or parental pressure, but overall, I think there are certain things I would have like to do differently within the profession itself.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

My advice for somebody who wants to do this is work hard, study well right from high school itself; even if you think you’re really intelligent, because intelligence alone won’t even get you inside a good medical college. Hard work has to be your mantra, especially in the early years.