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On Compassion, Focus And Determination

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Speaking Tree
20th May, 2020 12:33 IST

Q: As a medical student, it worries me, that what if one day I lose compassion and empathy for the patients? In that case, would I still be a good doctor and give my 100 percent to treat the patient?
Vrutika Patel , 20 years


Dear Vrutika,
A lot depends on your definition of a good doctor. There is an impulse to help the sick in everyone who enters medical school, I think. But people act on more than one motivation. Some medical students don’t want to see or touch patients, and for them the best career might turn out to be as a pathologist or research doctor in the laboratory. Other students are fascinated by anatomy and physiology more than by the people side of the profession, or they become deeply involved in surgical technique. Surgeons rarely spend much time talking to their patients before and after the surgery. And of course there is the motivation of money, since medicine remains a high- paying profession in most countries, especially in the West. Amid all of these motivations, and I’ve only touched on a few, compassion for the patient ranks very  high in my estimation and obviously in yours, too. Especially at the beginning, the medical profession is stressful and demanding. You are always aware of what can happen if you make a mistake.

As a result, medicine has a high burnout rate. I cannot promise that your compassion will protect you from that, but in my experience, compassionate medical students were compassionate people first. That is very likely to remain so
after they become doctors and will not easily go away. I hope this helps.

Q: I've always had the problem of not being able to focus for long. I want to use this lockdown time to prepare well for my exams but I can't do it. While I study, my mind wanders here and there. What should I do?
--Meenakshi, 22 years


Dear Meenakshi,
This is a hard question to answer without more background information. Were you diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a child? At 22, you have made it into higher education, so your study habits can’t be as bad as you think. Perhaps you
are in the habit of being hard on yourself in your drive to excel. These are all things I’d like to know before answering.


However, the lockdown is a stressful time, and even the most balanced people feel uncertain and anxious. If this applies to you and your family, it is only natural to be preoccupied, which leads to an inability to focus. I think you should study only after centering yourself. Sit quietly with eyes closed and take measured, deep breaths until you feel calm inside. Then start your study session, and make it short, perhaps half an hour, before getting up and doing something else. Return to study several times in short bursts, and only when you feel centered. Just as important is to be interested. Students easily get in the habit of calling their studies boring while video games, partying, and being with friends are far more interesting. If you study in a state of boredom, little or nothing will stick. So make sure to study the interesting parts first, to get into the habit of being focused, because you are actually curious about the subject. I hope this helps.

Love Deepak

 

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