Why do we need a Mentor?

Years ago a school teacher saw a child playing games in the bushes. The child was no extraordinary, he was a simple child, playing games that kids of his age did. But it was that teacher who recognised the extraordinary and nurtured him to become one of the greatest Kings this land ever saw. It was the under the mentor ship of Chanakya that Chandragupta Maurya was able to establish the Kingdom of Magadha. Without the mentor, the king would have been nothing.

A mentor is a term derived from an old Greek legend in which a king who was heading for a war had to leave his son in the care of his very close friend, instead of leaving him to his wife and Mentor grew up to be a very wise and noble king.

You don’t need a mentor to gain knowledge. You have books and online sources for that. You need a mentor to learn the practical details and proper implementation of knowledge. These intricacies and working knowledge can only and only be taught by a guru or a mentor.

So why do we need a Mentor?
1) Recognising and achieving your potential: Had it not been for Chanakya, Chandragupta would have never realised his potential as a king. It was only after his mentor recognised his true potential, he became what he was. Similarly in life we can achieve what we want by perseverance and hard work, but we need a mentor to know our potential and bring out the best in us.

2) They know the right doors:
Dipa Karmakar made our country proud with her Produnova vault, had it not been for her mentor she would have never known what a Produnova vault is and the intricacies of landing it. She had the talent, but it was her mentor who shaped it and guided her on the path to reach the Olympics.
A teacher knows whats important and what are the shenanigans. They can show you correct ways and the right doors. This makes our journey to success more efficient and easy.

3) Use their pool of experience:
Your mentor knows more than you. They have been around longer and have seen things that you have’t. This means their experiences can tell you the mistakes that have been committed before and guide you towards the correct direction. Our life is too short to make all the mistakes ourselves and learn, it’s better to learn from the past and make a better future. They have walked the walk that you are walking, learn from them.

In the end I would like to quote the famous couplets by Kabir,
Guru govind dono khade, kaake lagu paaye. Balihari guru aapno, govind diyo bataye
“Teacher and Lord are both there, whom to be adore. but teacher you are great, who told us that god is greater”

DEAD POETS SOCIETY, Robin Williams, 1989

Image Source: Firstpost.in

This article was written in collaboration with Dr Prerna Motwani, Medical Content Manager, Curofy- India’s largest community of verified doctors and Dr Rohan Khandelwal.

The Rat Race


Life of a medical graduate is a rat race. Right from the point when a student starts preparing for pre medical tests till he/she becomes a specialist or a super specialist, they keep running to ace some exam.

In this race no one ever questions the road on which they are running. Most of them don’t even know why they are running. They are on that road just because they were told to. All that matters is to reach the finish line.

The Start Line:

Lets start from the PMTs.16 year old students are supposed to study Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology to clear their high school exam. At the same time they are also expected to study the same course more thoroughly for medical entrance exams. When the course is same and the kids are same why do we need different exams to judge their aptitude?

In practice this system has only led to rote learning of course syllabus over years. Students cram up their study materials without understanding completely, not because they don’t have the aptitude to understand but because the system doesn’t need them to.

And that’s just the starting. Once the students enter into healthcare courses after clearing PMTs they are met with a curriculum completely different from what they were taught for 10+2 years.

The same race repeats the next time they have to give an entrance for Post Graduate courses. Instead of focussing on treating maximum number of patients during internship a student is supposed to study anatomy and biochemistry that they learnt in 1st year. This not only leaves them unprepared for the challenges in the real world when they start practicing alone but also puts the general population at risk.

The Race:

The curriculum of medical education is such that it promotes the rat race. In the first year you race to ace anatomy, physiology and biochemistry without realising it’s application. What would a 1st year understand by dissecting a digastric muscle in 1st year when he/she doesn’t even know when and why to reflect it? Till the time students reach 3rd year to study surgery all the dissection they had done in 1st year is forgotten.

Teaching medicine subject wise is a wasteful exercise. Medicine should be taught system wise. Say you are dissecting the tongue today on a cadaver, if you are taught about the anatomy, its blood and nerve supply, its attachment and functions, associated pathologies and surgical modalities  during the same course, it would be more helpful and easier to retain.
Instead of making students run blindly towards scoring marks at the end of every year we need to ask if that exercise is fruitful or not.

The Finish Line:

Medical students study for years to become doctors and specialist, but even after one finishes the course it’s hard to understand where they stand. The race doesn’t end here. Once they step into the world they race against the next doctor in their city to get maximum number of patients. The competition based result centric education system has changed the core of medicine in our country. While trying to fight the battle between passion vs examination protocol we lose the sight of why we wanted to become a doctor: the patient.

That folks, is the funny thing about rat races. It doesn’t matter if you are a winner or a loser, you end up being a rat.


About The Author:

This article was written by Dr Prerna Motwani .

Role of a mentor in Surgical Residency

I met my mentor yesterday during a conference and introduced him to a few of my students. One of the students asked him about the “role of a mentor in surgical residency?”
I am sharing his reply for the benefit of others.
To mention particularly there is no training in surgery without a mentor. If we try to define “surgical training”, it revolves around the mentor-mentee or guru-shishya relationship. While you may learn certain steps from YouTube and other resources, a few intricate practical details can only and only be taught by a guru. A mentor is a term derived from an old Greek legend in which a king who was heading for a war had to leave his son in the care of his very close friend, instead of leaving him to his wife and Mentor grew up to be a very wise and noble king. 
You watch your mentor operating, walking, talking, his mannerism, his attitude towards care of his patients and virtually follow him in everything you do. The role of a mentor is unlimited. It is vital and mandatory to have a guru in your life.
He ended by quoting Kabir’s famous couplet –

Guru govind dono khade, kaake lagu paaye

Balihari guru aapno, govind diyo bataye
“Teacher and Lord are both there, whom to be adore. but teacher you are great, who told us that god is greater”

Webinars using Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is an exciting new platform to interact with people all over the world and in my personal opinion, it is much better than Skype. I recently took two webinars for students all over the country regarding the USMLE exams using this platform. The live feed and the recording were watched by a lot of students and http://www.internetmedicine.com even wrote a story about my webinars.

Indian Breast Surgeon Utilizing Google Hangouts to Teach Medical Students all Across India

Dr. John Bennett, a retired doctor based out of Miami organizes these hangouts regularly on various topics. He has been encouraging doctors to use this platform and share their knowledge with students/ colleagues all across the globe.