Lessons from ICU. 13. Can buy degree, but wisdom?
There are few things in life that we know is coming, but till it is right before your eyes, you don’t realize the full impact of it. For years, many of us are lamenting about the decrease in the quality of the education in India. But when I had a chance to see it face to face, it was almost humorous.
Everyday when I was in ICU, as I had mentioned earlier, I was visited by a team of physicians along with a coterie of students who were studying or doing internship. If you have been a teacher for a while and if your family is full of teachers, soon you will be able to estimate the students very soon – by the way they listen to you, the way they write notes and the type of questions they ask – these are pointers that tell you about your students.
So as the students came with their instructors, I started watching them. Initially I felt sorry for the students as most of them had no clue about what was going on and were catching up all the time; and the remaining few knew their notes well. As soon their instructor asked a question, they would remember writing about it in their notes, found it and answered.
Unfortunately I did not see a single medical student who was knowledgeable, who knew their subject and who was at the top of their games. But that is understandable as I assumed they were in their second or third year in their medical studies. However, it was puzzling to me that the nurses who were in the ICU did not care about these students at all; if anything, the nurses treated these medical students with derision. So, imagine my surprise when I finally found out that these students were not medical students, but these are who have already received their M.B.B.S. degree and actually are students who are studying to be MD.
Now, before thinking I am being too harsh on them, let me narrate a conversation that happened between a nephrologist and a student who is studying to be a M.D. in Nephrology. As I had mentioned earlier, all the tests they did on me, gave negative results. And they were puzzled, because they were sure that I had some kind of kidney malfunction or disease that had caused the edema. So, they finally wanted to do a conclusive test. I forgot the name of the test now, but while I was listening to them, the nephrologist told his students that this test is the conclusive one. He explained that the results are always in numbers, and if the numbers are negative, it indicates that there is some problem with the kidneys of the patient. If the numbers are positive, then there is no problem with the kidneys. Very simple, right?
The next day when they came, I was also eager to know the results. The numbers were positive, +30 something. So, it was clear there was nothing wrong with my kidneys. Then the student, who already has a M.B.B.S. degree opened her mouth and spoke. This is the conversation. I am using N to denote the nephrologist and S to denote the student.
N: So, I guess there is nothing wrong with his kidneys.
S: No, sir, there is something seriously wrong with his kidneys.
N: (with a puzzled look) What are you talking about? The result is positive.
S: Yes, that is the problem. It is too positive.
N: What do you mean by that?
S: I mean, it is some +30. That means, there is some problem, right?
N: No. It means nothing. The only thing that matters is whether the number is positive or negative. Positive means no problem with kidneys. Negative means there is some problem. Since, it is positive, his kidneys are fine.
S: But they are too positive, sir.
N: Again, I am confused. What do you mean by too positive?
S: I have never seen anyone’s numbers being greater than 10 before. But for him, it is +30. So, there is a problem.
N: (by now, irritated) So, tell me what is the problem.
S: I don’t know. I am hoping that you would tell me what is wrong with his kidneys.
N: And I am telling you that there is nothing wrong with his kidneys. The numbers are positive.
S: Yeah, but they are too positive.
N: That means nothing. Only the signs matter – positive or negative. The numbers, per se, are meaningless.
S: But they are too high. So there has to be some problem with his kidneys.
Honestly, this is a conversation that took place right before me, regarding my kidneys. And when I was discharged from the ICU, it was into their capable hands, I was given. You can understand my horror. And those horror stories are for future blogs.
So, what was the problem with the student or students? And why the nurses were not treating them with any respect? Very simple. Most of these students who have just finished their M.B.B.S. did not score well in high school. Some of them have scored lower than the nurses who are working under them. But these students got into medical school, because they have money. Almost every single one of the students studying at that medical college, got admission because of money. They were not supposed to be studying to be a physician, let alone be a M. D. With money, they could get a degree. But they could not earn the respect from their subordinates, because they had no wisdom.
For wisdom emanates from the fear of the Lord; and understanding from the knowledge of the Holy One. (Proverbs 9:10)