Life is inherently unfair.
And the world is an unfair place.
If you haven’t already realized this, your internship year will help reinforce the lesson strongly.
Over the course of this year, you will see so many things that cannot – by any stretch of the imagination – be considered ‘fair’.
Kids sometimes get terribly sick; a few even die.
Young lives are abruptly ended by road accidents.
Noble and ethical people suffer the ravages of disease.
Healthy habits don’t seem to safeguard against illness.
And on and on…
There’s so much to destroy any faith you might have nurtured about the world, and its sense of “fair play”.
But as a doctor, you can’t indulge in childish regrets over a shattered illusion of fairness.
Instead, you must focus on doing whatever you can – to reduce unfairness.
If you don’t like the idea that little babies catch bad infections, throw yourself heart and soul into the mission of vaccinating all vulnerable infants to make them immune.
If you hate seeing a ceaseless flow of head injuries into the trauma ward, become a passionate advocate for wearing helmets and safer driving on the streets.
If you won’t accept the idea that cancer is a relentless killer with no recourse for victims, plunge into basic research into the problem and discover a cure.
If the idea of domestic violence or child abuse disgusts you, pledge to do your part to spread awareness about the problem, and offer suggestions to bring it down or help the victims.
No matter what form unfairness takes, or where you see it, there’s a way to fight against it.
To reduce unfairness.
Maybe you won’t always succeed.
But many times you will.
And that will make your profession really satisfying, and make your work deeply fulfilling.
If you’re tempted to believe that it’s all too big for you to make a difference, remember this tale…
‘THE STARFISH STORY’
One day an old man was walking along the beach.
It was low tide, and the sand was littered with thousands of stranded starfish that the water had carried in and then left behind.
The man began walking very carefully so as not to step on any of the beautiful creatures.
Since the animals still seemed to be alive, he considered picking some of them up and putting them back in the water, where they could resume their lives.
The man knew the starfish would die if left on the beach’s dry sand. But he reasoned that he could not possibly help them all.
So he chose to do nothing and continued walking.
In a little while, the man came upon a young child on the beach who was frantically picking up one starfish after another and throwing it back into the sea.
The old man stopped and asked the child, “What are you doing?”
“I’m saving the starfish,” the child replied.
“Why waste your time?… There are so many of them. You can’t save them all so what does it matter?” argued the man.
Without hesitation, the child picked up another starfish, and tossed it back into the water.
Then he turned back to the man and said…
“It mattered to that one!”
Reduce unfairness in the world.
Have you read Dr.Sivasubramanian’s books on the making of a surgeon yet?
Read the other ‘Desirable Traits for Interns‘ here.