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Micro Me.

By means of this blog, I would like to share my experiences as a junior resident in the Department of Microbiology. From the day I entered my college to present. I would also like to discuss some intricacies of Medical Microbiology - How we as undergraduates perceive it and What is it actually? Having said that I would also like to share the sheer pressure and responsibilities of how well we have to perform when we are confirming reports and hence the diagnosis of patients. 


                                                                               My residency started with a very vibrant and misleading orientation session by the dignitaries of my college. I say misleading because while we were at it everything seemed smooth and easy. Most of the first years were on cloud nine, firstly for clearing NEET PG exam and secondly for joining a good college. It's not that I thought my life as a junior resident would be easy, but I also did not think that it will be this busy and tough at some points. Coming back to the first week of my new life; soon after joining the department, we were made to do all sorts of menial jobs starting from maintaining the counter to learning how to wash test tubes. We would be posted for a week in every other counter in our lab from learning how to prepare the culture media to how to dry it up. Still, not understanding the complete purpose of such useless postings we would carry on with them. Imagine an MBBS graduate sitting on a counter and sticking barcodes to a form for the whole day long not even fully understanding the use of it. Suddenly the days of department presentations like seminars and journal clubs would come and go leaving us extremely confused to the core. It wasn't just only the confusion but also a little bit of frustration of not knowing what and why we were doing all of it? 
                                                                               Every first year comes up with certain expectations in mind about how good and ideally they will proceed in their respective branches and how their work will be looked in greatness not realising that the people who are sitting there were at the same position where he/she is forty years ago. This leads to crushing of hopes and dreams when you enter a new college for higher studies. The same thing happened to me instantly. Instead, I would like to say during the first month of my residency I was thoroughly confused about the life choices I had made and What would I do if they were proven to be wrong?

                                                                      This doesn't end here because with the added responsibilities of doing all sorts of works in the diagnostic lab we were also expected to magically come-up with a research question for a research topic which we were supposed to complete in next three years. Medicine in India is taught in a certain way; invoking interest in research in the concerned subject is certainly not that way. We are made to learn facts, important and random both. So finding out a topic for research and forming a researching question with a viable need for the study was like trying to climb a mountain without legs. First, because my brain wouldn't think that way and secondly it just sprang on me that if my research is not good enough it might affect my resume forever. I still remember those nights when I would suddenly wake up at three in the morning worrying about how to complete my synopsis for thesis, which had to be submitted within the three months time. I lost the whole concept of time and social life. The moment I entered my room after college; I would start looking for research papers, journals and books which could give me ideas about what I was doing. Obviously, that's one point of view i.e. I was seriously overwhelmed by what was happening in my new life. The other would be my guide's point of view ie. I wasn't living up to her expectations which brings in more stress, but in long run motivated and inspired me to break that mould of not having a scientific temperament for my subject. 


No, the story doesn't end here. They went onto tighten our screw further, like putting up us for tutorials which are nothing but mini-seminars. Mini just in topic but immensely huge in expectations. We would be thrashed for all the mistakes we had committed till the day of our seminar, no matter it was related to it or not. We would me made to realise again and again the limitations and meagre level of our knowledge. It was sad and truly frustrating to the core. Sometimes, I felt that I was going and coming back from the department just for the sake of attendance. Not listening, not paying attention to anything. I and one of my Co-PG would come up with the scenarios on when and how it will end. To our surprise that was just the beginning of the tougher life to come which I like to believe is the phase two of residency and is responsible to finally push you into becoming a good specialist. Our teachers did a great job at it. The insults and work kept on increasing on a single person until he/she gave up. I still remember one of my professors telling me " That's the whole point of this course my dear, stretching you to your limits and then break you. When we have done that; start again and break you again and again until a point comes where you become unbreakable". 


Reading this blog till now might have painted a gory picture of what a resident has to go through before he/she becomes a specialist. My dear friend, that's absolutely accurate; but having said that there is that other side of the coin. The side which makes me think that whatever my teachers did with me was absolutely necessary and important for my personal growth. It was absolutely necessary for me to realise what an important task is entailed unto my shoulders every morning when I enter my Diagnostics Lab. It taught me what is the meaning of reading, entering and finally giving a right report for a patient; who constantly thinks about negative things after giving the sample and while waiting for the report to come. 
                                                  Let me break it down into small parts; maybe it will become clearer. Let us talk about the postings in the culture media room. Preparing a culture under sterile conditions, doing the rounds of quality check, answering the questions for contamination being present in a certain batch, bleeding a sheep for Blood Agars (giving due respect to the animal); all these things taught me a lot. They made me independent microbiologist for taking decisions pertaining to it ie. solving my problems when my professors are not around to help me. I don't say that I have become an expert in the duration of 10 months but I would like to claim that I have learnt a lot, somethings which I didn't even imagine I could. It was not just learning but also the practicals which I did for the demonstrations for tutorials helped a great deal. The second example might be when I was told the point of breaking me again and again. Yes, she was right. It made me unbreakable in a way that I never imagined. Earlier when I had a problem, I would go haywire about my work and tense myself up to the limit of stress-related gastritis, but, now I find ways out of a problem. I try to make it go away with the best I can do. That breaking of the limits changed the way I face my challenges. 
                                                                    I am also thankful for the initial stress which was put on us, that made me a multitasker; at least in my work. Then comes the continued insults and thrashing, they pushed me towards excellence and perfection. Though both of them are too far away from my grab, still I would like to believe that I am on the right path. It made me think of being a person who makes no mistakes. It made me go behind the knowledge and not the success. I opened up my limitations to great extent and also taught me to be flexible in life. 
                                                                       These few of the incidents actually summarise my experiences in the junior residency. To make it even more real I would also like to say that I had my share of heartbreaks too during these six months. Sometimes due to the situation, sometimes due to different priorities. 
I would like to cover the real picture of Microbiology in another piece Micro Me 2.0. Please follow the link to read it. 
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