You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path. And that will make all the difference.”
-Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Adress, 2005
It has been really long I wrote something on this blog from my heart. It was not that I did not have time, or was more focused on writing articles for my website, but the real reason was that I was enjoying myself work really hard.
I have always been a huge Steve Jobs fan and would have seen his Stanford Commencement speech ‘n’ number of times, and every time I’m feeling low, those words never fail to lift my spirit up.
What makes me write this article is the sheer high and the adrenaline rush I’m feeling since the last few days as the dream and the vision that I have been working on since the last 12 months to set up a world class Accident & Emergency Department (within the limited resources and the available infrastructure) is finally completed, and I often look back just watching in awe what has been accomplished so far.
The journey is not complete yet, but looking at the bigger picture, I guess it was time for me to connect a few dots of my life so far.
1. Coming from an average middle class family, my parents were strict and always stressed on education and studies. There were a lot of financial ups and downs in life and I’m still clueless how my parents could be so strong and supported us in everything that we ever asked for. That made me sincere, disciplined, hard working and a tough go getter.
2. Even though since childhood, I always wanted to be an astronaut or an Air Force pilot, or may be more realistically a charted accountant (thanks to my parent’s dream I landed up in Medicine, pun intended), by working the EMS at Sion Hospital I knew right from my 2nd MBBS that Emergency Medicine is what excites me and that was the only thing I would do if I was to continue with clinical medicine. It is one of the busiest emergency departments in the country for a government hospital and the best centre for managing trauma in the city.
3. There was no awareness about Masters course in Emergency Medicine, I was very clear that I did not want to run the utterly stupid rat race of graduated doctors sitting in a library, wasting years of their life studying some really ridiculous MCQ books.
4. After completion of 5.5 years of the gruesome MBBS, I joined Asian Heart Institute as a Casualty Medical Officer where I did not learn much clinical management but a lot of stress was put on a detailed history taking which had to be flawless. Few months into the job and I had made up my mind to get into the administration part of the healthcare industry and started preparing for the CAT MBA exam, surprisingly scoring 95 percentile with only few weeks of preparation on my 1st attempt.
5. My father is a heart patient, had a bypass done in 2007. We went for his regular checkup and the cardiologist who was initially seeing him at Lilavati Hospital and many other hospitals had joined as a full timer cardiologist at Kokilaben Dhidubhai Ambani Hospital. It was during his checkup that I told Dr. Jamshed Dalal if it was possible to work with him, with the condition that I wanted to work in the Emergency Department only. One phone call to the HR in-charge and I found myself sitting in an interview for a job at KDAH.
6. I worked as a registrar in the Accident & Emergency Department for a year, learning the right way to manage emergency patients which was protocol based, evidence based. It is not always the clinical skill that one should pick up at an organization, what I picked up were the soft skills of a gentleman’s conduct, good communication and counseling to patients and relatives, taking care of their food, cleanliness in the department, team work, and many more. But I continued to prepare for another shot at CAT thinking I would crack it this time with a 99 percentile and coming out of clinical medicine.
7. The hospital started a 3 year masters in emergency medicine course, I did not join it initially. Was enjoying the money I was making (from 20k at AHI to 40K) within 4 months and thought that I would give 1 sincere attempt at CAT and if not, could always join the MEM next year.
8. September 25th 2012, my boss informed that a doctor had decided to quit the course due to personal reasons and I without a second thought told him that I would join it in his place. I had managed to save exactly Rs. 3,40,000 by then and surprisingly the annual fees was for Rs. 3,370,80 and felt proud tearing the cheque for the fees of my hard earned money.
9. The course was a 3 year Masters in Emergency Medicine (MEM) by George Washington University, USA that included extensive structured Emergency Medicine training, probably better than what MD and DNB Emerg medicine can ever be in India, with faculty coming from the US/UK every month for a week to teach and lectures on remaining days (twice weekly) by in-house consultants. We got to deal with all the latest technology, doing all procedures, etc, literally having freedom to work LIKE A CONSULTANT where we decided and implemented the investigations, treatment and interventions. It provided many of us a platform to be a part of this exciting field of Emergency Medicine and also an opportunity for people to get out of the shitty Indian repetitions system to get a PG seat (saving 1-2 precious years of this life).
10. I joined Dr. L.H. Hiranandani Hospital on 1st October 2015 in the ‘casualty’ which in my opinion was nowhere close to being called an emergency department. The initial 5-6 months were the toughest period as I found myself working sleepless nights till 2 and 3 am designing the paper work, writing protocols, somehow managing a team of 7 ‘hostile’ doctors (who did not take well of a new comer of approximately their same age being made in-charge), etc. Within 3 months, the department had already taken shape and we were on a road to set up a world class Accident & Emergency Department. What we have accomplished within a very short span truly seems like a fairy tale, I had never worked so hard in life since the medical entrance exam in 2004.
11. On the personal front, I got a lot of recognition, respect and fame in the hospital and the emergency medicine fraternity and can now boast of a dream job for a 29 year old. What makes me happier and pushes me to work even harder is to see the happiness, satisfaction and content on the faces of everyone at the hospital including my CEO, Medical Director, Consultants, everyone from the management & HR to the nursing staff, housekeeping, purchase department, Public relations department, etc with the pace of the constant development we are doing in the department, thereby improving our quality of service, patient feedbacks and their satisfaction.
By connecting the dots backwards as the great Steve Jobs had said, everything has started to make sense to me and I’m now eagerly looking forward to life and my future ahead.