Hands that cure and care

From hard work and countless hours that one needs to study, medicine can come across as an arduous task, but the power to save lives is worth the effort. A recent study by KPMG shows that in India there are only six doctors for every 10,000 persons.

Hands that cure and care

The medical stream is brimming with choices that offer diverse career options to a student

Rohit MA

From hard work and countless hours that one needs to study, medicine can come across as an arduous task, but the power to save lives is worth the effort. A recent study by KPMG shows that in India there are only six doctors for every 10,000 persons. According to government estimates,  there is a shortage of six lakh doctors. We have only eight lakh doctors for a population of 1.3 billion and growing.  

This huge gap has brought the spotlight on the medical education system in the country. India has 450 colleges and about 52,000 MBBS students pass out each year. Still there is a shortage of doctors on ground. The catch lies in the inadequate PG opportunities within the country. For 52,000 MBBS graduates passing out each year, there are only 27,000 PG seats. As a result, on the one hand there is fierce competition for PG seats, on the other a simple MBBS degree holder doesn’t have ample growth avenues.  So, there is a huge migration overseas. Interestingly, 30 per cent of doctors in the US are of Indian origin. 

These are some of the hard facts about this noble profession, which all future practitioners need to be aware of. However, there is no doubt that a medical degree is the most soughtafter in India. In 2018, as many as 13,26,725 students took national entrance test (NEET) and 6,34,897 were able to clear it. Thus, this stream is not only highly competitive, but also has a very high failure rate. So, it will be prudent for a medical stream student to have a plan B ready, in case he doesn’t make it to the MBBS course.  

 Where to start and what to expect

A student must have passed Class XII in Science stream (with physics, chemistry and biology) to be eligible to pursue MBBS course. Post Class XII you have to clear the NEET as admission to MBBS is granted on the basis of score in NEET.  

 An MBBS course starts with the basic pre-clinical subjects such as biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology. The students simultaneously obtain hands-on training in hospital wards and out patient departments, where they interact with real patients for five years. The curriculum aims to inculcate standard protocols of patient history taking, examination, differential diagnosis and complete patient management. The student is taught to determine what investigations will be useful for a patient and what are the best treatment options. The curriculum also contains a thorough practical knowledge and practice of performing standard clinical procedures. The course also contains an year-long internship, in which an intern is rotated across various specialties. Besides standard clinical care, one also gets a thorough experience of ward management, staff management and thorough counseling skills.

The 5.5-year bachelor’s degree in medicine (4.5 years for MBBS + 1 year of internship) can introduce you to a whole new world of possibilities. Going in for specialisation and a PG degree is almost a norm these days. Specialisations like surgery, gastroenterology, oncology, cardiology, ortho, gynaecology, dermatology, medicine etc are very popular now.

Alternative routes

If you have a passion for medicine but are not able to make it to MBBS, there are other options: dental sciences, ayurveda and homoeopathy.  Bachelor of Dental Science (BDS) is a five-year course that includes a year of internship. The Dental Council of India registers those who have completed the BDS to practice dentistry. After completion of this degree, many graduates choose to join a government hospital to get hands-on experience. 

However, a BDS degree alone is not considered enough to succeed in this profession and you will have to go for a Master of Dental Science (MDS). The different areas of specialisation in the MDS are: Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral Surgery, Orthodontics, Pedodontics, Periodontics and Prosthodontics. The advantages of pursuing any of these areas of specialisation are generally higher salaries and a more academic bent to the work.

Bachelor of Ayuervedic medicine & surgery (BAMS) is another option for medical stream students. Most of the universities conduct a combined entrance test for BAMS, nursing, physiotherapy etc. The government is actively encouraging and promoting the spread of ayurveda by opening new outlets in civil hospitals and medical colleges. New universities are being opened only for teaching, training and research in ayurveda. 

In fact, BAMS graduates are providing primary care to a large segment of society in semi-urban and rural areas. Other courses in alternate system of medicine are homeopathy, Siddha and Unani. These are also of four-year duration and admissions are made along with BAMS.

The challenge 

Medicine, undoubtedly, is a lucrative and fulfilling profession. But before one seriously embarks upon the journey to become a physician or take up any challenging position, it is most important to know the challenges that may fall your way. 

n Preparation for competitive examinations 

n Lengthy and vigorous period of premedical 

education as an undergraduate

n Multiple examinations at all levels

n Then comes the challenge of choosing the 

residency training area at a suitable medical-teaching facility

n Fellowship in your areas of interest 

n The need to secure re-certification later 

n Work for approvals and establishing a practice or seek a job at a government or a private hospital 

Private v/s Government 

Getting into and choosing the right college has always been tough. Your marks may determine your college selection, but it can never measure your skills and knowledge. All colleges, be it government or private, however, maintain a uniformity of syllabus, but education in private colleges is pretty expensive. Securing at least one degree (UG or PG) from a government medical college is always recommended. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has introduced amendments in the ‘Post Graduation Medical Education Regulations’ as a result of which nearly 5,000 PG seats and 250 super-speciality will be added by the academic year 2020-21.

Journey ahead 

It is imperative for every pre-medical student to have a realistic view of the medical career in order to avoid dissatisfaction at a later date. There will be different and challenging perspectives, but it is important to keep in mind that a lot will depend on the nature of the specialty and on one’s own professional success. Each field has its own demands in terms of work hours per week (range: 45-65), the frequency of night calls (from none to heavy), and stress due to the nature of one’s responsibilities. The best picture of what might lie ahead can come from visits to hospitals (both wards and emergency rooms), as well as speaking to physicians, (both satisfied and dissatisfied), from a wide range of specialties.

Today, tremendous opportunities for career success and advancement exist within the healthcare industry, buoyed by increasing demand for services and a shortage of qualified professionals. There are projected openings across disciplines in both hands-on patient-care positions and administrative occupations. 

— The writer is co-founder & MD, Cloudnine  Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru

Ever-expanding field of healthcare

Medicine is a vast field and careers are available across a multitude of educational and skill levels. There is a huge range of alternatives to traditional medical careers, not only in the health profession but in other sectors such as education, research, technical work and the media. Several administrative roles serve as an opportunity, too. These days clinicians are collaborating on several fronts to serve the larger need of the healthcare system. In India, with changes in regulatory rules, safety surveillance, and concept of medical liaisons, the role of the medical advisor is evolving continuously and is further likely to evolve in the coming years in important areas like health economics, public private partnerships, and strategic planning. Role of pharmacologists has also been evolving in delivery of patient care. Beyond all this, there lies a tremendous opportunity to pursue growth opportunities in public health sector, health journalist, medical teacher, medical lawyer, clinical forensic medical examiner, medical and pharmaceutical researcher, occupational physician, medico marketing directors, sales and marketing, digital healthcare professionals. Healthcare these days is just not restricted to doctors but includes other opportunities in hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. India also offers vast opportunities in R&D as well as medical tourism.

Footprints of technology

Now technology is driving healthcare more than any other force and in the future it will continue to develop in dramatic ways. We already see the use of medical nanodevices and materials and genome editing which is a technology known as CRISPR (for clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeat) has emerged with breath-taking speed as a disruptor in the life sciences realm. All this helps in how to learn, how to use and understand early, use data and improve patient outcomes. Continuous technological developments in healthcare has saved countless lives and improved the quality of life for even more. Not only has technology changed experiences for patients and their families, but it’s also had a huge impact on medical processes and the practices of healthcare professionals.

Know your skillsets

  • Compassion and willing to help others
  • Patience
  • Eye for detail
  • Concentration
  • Physical stamina
  • Calm and composed nature
  • Emotional strength
  • Medical know-how
  • Quick thinking
  • Will to learn new skills and keep oneself updated

BSC nursing 

It is a four-year UG programme that prepares general  nurses who can be capable of dealing with competencies in hospitals. It focuses on imparting skills needed for professional nursing and midwifery.  The  course involves classroom study projects and assignments. It broadly lays emphasis on areas like anatomy and physiology, microbiology, psychology, first aid, personal hygiene etc. After the completion of the programme the students are required to undergo a six-month internship in hospitals, etc. to experience the real-world clinical settings. 

BSc Medical Laboratory Technology (BMLT) 

This is a three-year UG course that deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases by using different clinical laboratory tests. To be eligible for admission, the candidate should scored minimum 55 per cent in Class XII. Some institutes also hold an entrance test for admission. A lab technician is an important component of the healthcare framework and helps the physicians to analyse and decide the course of treatment on a particular patient besides handling lab functions. 

BSc optometry 

This is a three-year full-time course involving study of skills required for measuring eyesight, prescribing 

corrective lenses for spectacles and detecting general diseases of the eye like glaucoma, etc.  Students of science stream with PCB in CLass XII can apply for an optometry course. The course equips students with technical skills to provide service as an optician, optometrist, refractionist and ophthalmic assistant inhospitals and healthcare centres. 


Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) is a four-year professional degree, including one-year internship. Though some physiotherapy courses also include a three-year BSc and a one year diploma course, BPT is preferred by major hospitals for their physiotherapy departments. Those with a diploma course are usually picked up for assistant’s job. To be eligible for BPT, the candidates must have cleared Class XII with at least 50 per cent marks in PCB and cleared the CET. The course, a combination of theory and practicals, helps students develop a basic understanding of the human body, based on medical sciences. Training includes understanding procedures for therapy and related skill training. The curriculum includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, psychology, medical and surgical conditions, biomechanics, kineseology, disability prevention, rehabilitation and other subjects.  

  Region’s best

Dayanand Medical College & Hospital (DMCH), Ludhiana

Estd: 1964


Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, 


Website-http: //

Estd: 1991

Pt. Bhagwat Dayal Sharma PGIMS, Rohtak

Website :                


Christian Medical College, 


Estd: 1894 


IGMC, Shimla

Estd: 1966


Guru Gobind Singh Medical

College, Faridkot


Estd: 1973

Government Medical College, Amritsar


Adesh Institute of Medical 

Sciences and Research 

(AIMSR), Bathinda

Estd: 2005


Maharishi  Markandeshwar 

University, Mullana (Ambala)

Estd: 1993

Government Medical College, Srinagar 

Estd: 1959 


H S Judge Institute of Dental 

Sciences & Hospital, Chandigarh


Government Dental College 

and Hospital, Amritsar

Estd: 1952


NIRF Ranking 2019

Top 10 Institutes  

  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
  • Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
  • Christian Medical College, Vellore
  • Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow    
  • Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore
  • Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  • Kasturba Medical College, Manipal
  • Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research, Puducherry
  • Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi
  • King George’s Medical University, Lucknow

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