Being a nerd on Christmas

Ok so I was browsing on Book Depository and somehow i ended up on the textbook section and grew increasingly excited at the number of medical atlases I added to my wish list. I have to include a disclaimer in case you think I am a maniac who devours massive volumes of clinical text – not really unfortunately. I tend to collect them on my bookshelf and gaze lovingly at them rather then reading and assimilating those facts. But I do get around to them eventually because of the financial guilt.

But I digress.

Yesterday, of all places, In a medical fiction by Michael Palmer (the second opinion), i read about the comparison made between surgeons and physicians and I was highly amused and yet thoughtful about it because it rang true.

Surgeons are to physicians like technicians are to thinkers.

I was hell bent on surgery till I did 20 weeks of surgical, half of it under the rudest, most pompous egoistical men I ever met, and the other half under the most charismatic, kind and gentle men I ever encountered. Then I did general medicine. And I realized the culmination of medicine did not lie in surgery but in internal medicine. The pinnacle of medicine does not lie in surgery. Everything depends on the physicians. The pre-operative care, the post-operative management and the day to day maintenance of health. Only a specific subgroup of people ever make it into the operating theatre, and yet the surgeons boo-boo the work of the physicians and think themselves walking Gods of this Earth.

And the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to feel that the challenge of medicine lies in the hands of the physicians not the surgeons. If you spend enough time in theatre, you will ultimately excel in it. Similar to all other activities which involve motor skills – be it sports or music. But spend an inordinate amount of time in internal medicine and sometimes one can still be stumped by the myriad of physical signs and symptoms and still not have a conclusion.

This is the part of medicine that excites me. And that’s why I made the momentous decision to enter in the physician training program rather than the surgical one.

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