A Physician, or a doctor, in India wears many hats, and the actual day-to-day responsibilities and duties depend on his/her specialization, educational background, location, employer, and experience. Overall though, a physician’s job is to diagnose, treat, and/or manage the patient’s medical issues or illnesses through the use of medication, exercises, and surgery. It is also the physician’s job to monitor his/her patients‘ well-being in the long-run, over the course of the patient’s life, by performing check-ups, recommending preventative measures to avoid health problems or complications in the future, and choosing the best course of treatment in any situation by fully understanding the patient’s lifestyle and any/all possible limitations. Doctors work as part of a team in the managing of their patients‘ health: they work with nurses, technicians, assistants, nutritionists, etc, so it is the physician’s job to also make sure he/she communicates well with all the other medical parties involved, so that no vital information falls through the cracks. Physicians also give out referrals to specialists if the problem their patient suffers from falls outside of their realm of expertise. Physicians must stay on top of verified medical research discoveries and news, and be well-versed in the appropriate literature regarding the cases they handle. There is a vast number of specializations from which a doctor can choose to focus on in his/her studies, which accounts for the large number of specialists and the salary gaps between them.
The requirements to become a Physician in India are as follows: passing the 10+2 exam in the Science Stream, and going on to receive an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree, usually 5.5-year program). Upon completion of your MBBS, you are allowed to start practicing medicine as a general practitioner, but being that more jobs are available for those with a specialization (and therefore a higher degree), many doctors choose to continue their medical education to receive their MD (Doctor of Medicine), MS (Master of Surgery), or DNB (Diplomate of National Board) degree, which requires passing and ranking (hopefully well) in the medical entrance exam, such as the All India Post Graduate Entrance Exam (there’s a separate one for the DNB program), which will decide what school and specialization you are eligible to apply for (the more popular the specialization of choice, the higher the rank you must achieve in the entrance exam in order to have a shot at getting a seat in the program). Within the MD/MS/Postgraduate Degree specializations (usually a 3-year program), one can choose from General Medicine, General Surgery, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, ENT (Ear, Nose Throat), Psychiatry, Anesthesiology, etc. One can then either choose to practice medicine as a doctor (with the specialization earned in the MD/MS program), or to continue one’s education even further, by pursuing a “super-specialization” via a PhD (Doctoral Programme) of 2 years (3 for MSc, Master in Science), or a DM (super-specialty Doctor of Medicine), or MCh (super-specialty Master of Chirurgical/Surgery). The higher the degree, the higher the likelihood of obtaining a well-paying job.
Getting an MBBS alone takes a long time – usually 5 and a half years, and getting an even higher degree like the MD/MS/DNB/PhD/DM/MCh takes an additional 2-3 years on average, which means that someone pursuing a physician’s career must be extremely patient and extraordinarily academically and medically driven. The course work is extensive, and some say exhaustive, and the cases – both in the classroom and out in the real world – can be heartbreaking. This career path requires a very strong and mature person, someone who can truly dedicate him/herself to each case and each patient, just like he/she did to each year of schooling. Being a doctor is not for the faint of heart, as it will be challenging and grueling, in school and in practice as a professional physician treating patients. But if you have the drive, determination, focus, and passion for science and medicine, as well as a passion and commitment to aiding in the treatment of physical and/or mental welfare of others, and the patience to work with people of all backgrounds, then this field just might be for you. Doctors must exude compassion, understanding, and professionalism, because patients trust them implicitly with their health, so as a doctor, you must rise to the occasion. The payoff for all that hard work though is rather impressive: prestige, trust, knowledge, the power to heal and improve the lives of others, and to top it all off, a very nice and hefty salary. The average annual salary for a physician/doctor in India varies greatly, but generally falls somewhere between Rs. 133,078 – Rs. 1,225,953.