Even though this period is not designed so that the stagers become responsible for the patients, and instead, they are supposed to keep studying while gaining experience, yet some universities of medical sciences lack the staff required to exempt externs from having to standby.
“But we, as externs, had such responsibly. It was both good and bad. It was good because it helped us become confident in engaging with patients, and it was bad because it was highly stressful,” Negin recollects.
After passing through this ordeal, medical students must embrace internship. Before that, however, they have to pass a difficult exam, known as pre-internship exam. It comprises of questions regarding their clinical learning – major and minor courses.
During the year and a half internship, medical students have to have 24 hours of standby regularly.
“Sometimes even more. I myself have experienced many standbys up to 72 hours. Once even for 96 hours,” she remembers.
It is safe to assume that for many of us, not getting an eight-hour-long shut eye is synonymous with misery. Yet, these brave souls undertake such feats in order to help the sick.
Finally, to seal the deal on their education, students need to write a dissertation.
That is the seven-year-long training that medical students get in order to become general practitioners. Although there might be criticisms regarding some of its aspects, but considering Iran’s impressive medical sector, one sees its apparent merits. Still, it would be wise to keep our medical students from burnout during all this.
After graduation, young doctors head either to medical university hospitals or health centers scattered across the country, some on them in really disadvantaged areas.
“I started by practicing in a village in Alamut District in Qazvin Province,” Negin says, adding, “Because I thought I would rather go to village and visit more outpatients.”
But things did not quite match her expectations, since see had to visit many critical patients without proper equipment and staff.
“We were two doctors there with rotating shifts. One of the shifts was from 8 am to 4 pm. Then we rested for a while, and took another shift from 12 am to 8 am.”
This working schedule does not sound right for many who have bought into the idea of a daily routine of work, leisure, and sleep. Working like this needs a strong sense of duty and self-sacrifice.
“And I had so many patients in critical conditions. I had a pregnant woman giving birth. I had instances of seizures and heart attacks, you name it,” Negin says with a trembling voice.
She believes that it seems everything pushes the graduates towards residency to become specialists, since they endure so much to finally become belittled general practitioners.
“In many countries, family medicine itself is a specialty and is valued greatly,” she says.
Although there are doctors, specialists to be accurate, who earn a lot of money and live good lives – whether through honest work or in some cases, shady businesses like tax evasion – general practitioners do not make good money. Not in comparison with many others. In order to join the other class of doctors, they have to embark on another journey, which at best takes four more years of their lives. And that road also takes its toll in terms of long heavy workload and irregular work schedule.
“If someone enters the field of medicine for money, it would take them forever to get there, and it’s really hard, especially if there is no genuine interest in medicine and interacting with people,” Negin warns the younger individuals whose sole purpose in pursuing medicine is becoming rich.
“If someone does not like all this, and does not wish to study all their life in order to stay updated, would really suffer.”