Bharat Express

NEET 2024 – Is A Career In Medicine Truly Worth It?

NEET 2024: Is Medicine Worth It? Ishana Sharma questions the worth of a medical career amidst the relentless grind from dawn till night.


5:00 a.m. Wake up. 5:10 a.m. Physics numericals. 7:00 a.m. Get ready. 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Coaching. 4:00 p.m. Botany. 6:00 p.m. Zoology. 8:00 p.m. Chemistry. 9:30 p.m. Dinner. 9:45 p.m. More MCQs. 11:00 p.m. Sleep. Next day, wake up, repeat. Imagine having to follow this type of an extensive routine six days a week, for two years of your life. Sounds exhausting, right? Well, this is basically the daily life of an average NEET/JEE aspirant. With so much already sacrificed and so much more yet to be sacrificed. All of a sudden, within the blink of an eye, your life comes to a standstill and you become the centre of attraction, the pivot of your entire family. You know, you have probably heard many parents say, “Beta, just study hard and get into a good college for under graduation. Your life will be ‘set’ then.”

Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to a career in medicine. To put things in perspective, if you wish to become a neurosurgeon, a trauma surgeon or even a general surgeon, the process is quite strenuous and intense. After completing 12th and giving NEET in India, you will be looking at 5-5.5 years of MBBS and a one year internship followed by MD, MS and M.Ch in your field of surgery. Then comes 5-6 years of residency at a hospital that has the department you are specializing in. Therefore, you are looking at approximately 12-13 years of additional studies after 12th grade, assuming that you clear all your entrance tests in one attempt. While all your friends are out there exploring their 20s and working 9-5s, you will be sitting at home with your 1500 page anatomy or physiology book and studying with your bone set.

Obviously, for future doctors, giving the NEET exam is the preliminary stepping stone in their medical journey. However, what if I tell you that achieving a perfect score of 720 out of 720 in this exam is also not enough to guarantee you a sure-shot seat in AIIMS Delhi, the most prestigious medical college in India? This is exactly what happened with NEET 2024. So many students achieved that ‘unachievable’ perfect score that now their age, the alphabetical order of their name and maybe some other factors will now decide their admission into colleges. In previous years, NEET was known to be a moderately challenging paper requiring logical and reasoning skills and a decent level of aptitude in subjects like physics, chemistry, botany and zoology. Last year, two students got full marks in NEET. This year, the number shot up to 67. Let’s assume you got 675 marks, would get a rank of 2000-3000 at 675 marks in 2023; however, in 2024, your rank will go down to 12000. This is an inflation of over 400% in just one year.

2.08 million people applied for NEET last year; this year, the number was 2.38 million. That is just a difference of 300,000. No matter how much logic, statistics, data and analysis you apply and work out, the numbers just do not make sense.

What has changed so drastically in less than a year that there is such a huge dip in ranks? Has the paper become much easier? Have people gotten much smarter? Are students eating different, breathing a special air or is everyone simply spending 20 hours studying every day? Even then, the data seems unbelievable. NTA i.e., the National Testing Agency, which is responsible for conducting national level exams like NEET and JEE, released NEET results on 4th June, same day as the General Election results were coming out. Students, parents, teachers, droppers- everyone was dumbfounded, dismayed, disheartened and crestfallen. The mother who dreamed to see her son in a white coat with a Littmann stethoscope around his neck, can now only pray and hope that her son gets into a medical college. The father who was so excited to distribute sweets amongst his colleagues on hearing his daughter’s score, can now only hope that he has sufficient funds to get her through a semi-private or private medical college. The student who, despite all odds, challenges, sacrifices and hardships, was dead set on pursuing a medical degree and becoming a role model for their siblings, is now considering to take a drop year and try one more time.

It is so funny how, we were always taught that gambling is notorious. However, taking a drop is almost like making a gamble, except this time the gamble’s on your life, on your ability to do well by yourself, on the faith you have in yourself that you will study better, work harder and achieve your dream. Now, visualize that you have achieved all of this and become the best version of yourself during that one drop year, then to be told that some students have still done better than you, not because they chose the right answers but because they were awarded grace marks, is life-shattering. Several students are frustrated, petitions and public interest litigations have been filed in the High Courts and Supreme Court of India. People are demanding justice and have lost faith in the NTA, with the judicial system being their last string of hope. My personal take on this is that we are all humans. We all make mistakes. NTA, although an agency, is still run by humans. We need to give them the benefit of doubt that maybe they did make a mistake. Yes, the mistake was a massive one, one that probably messed up the future of several capable and smart future doctors but what has happened cannot be changed. What can be done now is acceptance and accountability. Mistakes need to be owned up to, rectifications need to be made, and the people who intentionally leaked the paper need to be penalized.

Becoming a doctor has several pros. You gain a lot of respect in society and let’s be real, the financial rewards are truly lucrative. Then there is also job security. No matter how much technological growth and development we witness, people are still going to fall sick and the demand for doctors is always going to exponentially increase. Robots do not and will not have the same emotion and state of mind as a human. A robotic surgeon will never be able to emulate the sensitivity and practicality that is needed to make a good doctor. In fact, people are now falling sick more than ever. People are suffering from heart attacks at age 30, their hair is starting to grey by age 25, teenagers are overburdened and incessantly anxious. The demand for doctors now is more than ever. When it comes to job satisfaction, nothing is more fulfilling than having a rough day, going home and proudly being able to say, “I saved someone’s life today.” Moreover, doctors are constantly learning, enhancing their knowledge, honing their skills and keeping their neurons stimulated. They learn from circumstances and gain several unique experiences. Doctors are known to have an elixir for everything, to themselves be the panacea for a myriad concerns.

Becoming a doctor has several cons too. Have you ever wondered why most doctors end up marrying other doctors? It is because no one but a doctor can understand the eccentricities and erratic schedule of a doctor. One of the biggest cons of being in the medical field is the daily trauma and stress you are put through. According to the Indian Medical Association, 82% of doctors in India are under stress, getting less than seven hours of sleep a day and often not getting sleep for more than 24 hours when they are on duty. I mean, every step you take and every decision you make can alter the life of a patient. Someone’s family depends on you. You are someone’s last piece of hope. How does that kind of pressure not leave you in a state of constant stress and anxiety? Medical school is also expensive. Not everyone has the resources to pay for approximately 15 years of education, along with rent, food and other conveniences. Till you complete your degree, you are basically surviving on your parents’ earnings apart from the stipend you get. A plethora of doctors are highly susceptible to chances of a burnout and being a doctor does take a toll on your mental well-being. Doctors often also drown in a lot of red-tape, especially when they want to open their own medical establishments. There are a lot of rules, regulations and administrative work that doctors have to bear in mind besides the names of the thousands of drugs, medicines and diseases that they learn in med-school.

In conclusion, if you have the mental, physical and emotional strength to stand tall with your head held high when life goes downhill. If you have the ability to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and carve a parabolic path after you have reached the lowest point. If you have it in you to not become arrogant when life goes uphill, then a career in medicine is something you will enjoy. Yes, you will spend more time in school, have more sleepless nights, become best

friends with your bone set and live on edge for a few more years, but if you have the passion for it then you will love it. Coming back to the topic, is a career in medicine really worth it? While the answer is definitely subjective and everyone has their own perspectives, I personally think that you do not need an exceptional level of intellectual brilliance to become a doctor. If you are hardworking and have your ethics and morals in place, then this profession is going to be the perfect fit for you, just like Cinderella’s glass slipper.

Ishana Sharma
Grade 11.