It’s easy (and tempting) to end this section with just a simple sentence. Be disciplined. It will help you tremendously as a doctor. After all, this is self-evident. If, at the end of five years of medical college training, you have not yet figured out (or accept) that discipline is an asset, what I tellContinue reading “Discipline”


It’s a loaded word. ‘Professionalism’ means different things to different people. And maybe you’ll devise your own definition for what exactly it means – for you. Let’s pull out our trusted dictionary and see what it has to say. “Professional: taking part in an activity… in order to make money” Let’s parse this into itsContinue reading “Professionalism”

Defer Gratification

Today’s world, driven by social media, has become one of instant thrills. We’ve all experienced the dopamine rush of a fancy post on Instagram, or a little victory shared on Whats App, or a slew of ‘Likes’ on Facebook. And it’s spoiling us. We’ve grown to expect instant rewards – for everything! That’s not real.Continue reading “Defer Gratification”


Doctors want more patients. What they often need is more patience. Patience with others. And patience with themselves. We’re all in such a hurry. Most of the time. When you were younger, you were in a hurry to grow up and do important things. Now that you’re done with medical school, and stand on theContinue reading “Patience”

Optimism and Determination

Things look bad. The world’s in a mess. All around there’s chaos and confusion. Does that sound like a description of today? Well, it always rings true… across history! Charles Dickens opens his 1859 novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ with: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it wasContinue reading “Optimism and Determination”


Ever since you were a kid, people have tried to throttle your curiosity. In many different ways. “Don’t keep asking silly questions,” they’ve said. “Just do what I say!” Or they preached a pithy homily: “Curiosity killed the cat!” If you continued to stay curious despite all of this, good for you! But even ifContinue reading “Curiosity”

Work Hard – But Also Smart

It was post-admission day on the medicine unit. I had “slept” for a couple of hours in the last 24. Like zombies, we all went through our assigned tasks. After all the bloods were drawn, and all the case sheets written, at 8:30 a.m. I rounded up cases scheduled for echocardiograms – and prepared toContinue reading “Work Hard – But Also Smart”

Reduce Unfairness

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 terriblyContinue reading “Reduce Unfairness”

Respect Your Patient’s Dignity

I still vividly remember an incident from my days as an intern. Even the young lady’s face. She was an M.Sc graduate. At the Family Planning OPD. With an “unwed pregnancy”. In those days, this was taboo. An aversion to her condition in the broader general society was maybe understandable, given the norms of thatContinue reading “Respect Your Patient’s Dignity”


I used to say, “Love your patients”. But that’s open to misinterpretation. And it’s sometimes difficult, because some patients are downright nasty. So instead, better advice is to be compassionate towards all patients. Let’s turn to our favorite dictionary again for the meaning – “pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” SurelyContinue reading “Compassion”