How medical students can utilise this lock-down period efficiently

I was in my 2nd year of post-graduation during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. 4-5 days after an emergency 24 hour duty, I developed symptoms of flu along with high fever. As per the guidelines issued, I got my test done and was detected with swine flu. Fortunately, I just had mild infection but i was forced to undergo a 12 day quarantine.

Being a second year surgery PG, when the surgical opportunities in the emergency duties are plenty, I was initially a bit frustrated but within a day or two, I decided to utilize that time wisely. I set aside 3 tasks for myself during that period and made sure that I finished them before going back to the hospital.

1) I planned to revise bailey and maheshwari for my upcoming MRCS exam

2) Submit two scientific papers in pubmed indexed journals

3) Segregate my wildlife pictures into various folders for handy use

I realized that doing just one thing the entire day wouldn’t be possible, so I allocated 4-5 hours to studies and 1 hour each to the other two tasks. This left me with enough time to exercise, watch TV for 1-2 hours a day.

At the end of the 12 days, I had accomplished all the three tasks and felt extremely happy while returning to work.

A lot of undergraduate students are going through the same phase during this lock-down and I would highly recommend that you follow these simple steps to make the most of this period

1) Make a realistic study plan for yourself : Don’t be over ambitious, otherwise you will feel disappointed at the end of 21 days. At the same time, don’t set yourself a very simple goal because that would lead to you wasting a lot of time on social media or watching netflix

2) Use this free time to work on your hobby : You might not get such a period for a long time after this. Don’t forget to read that book which has been lying on your shelf since a long time or pick up the canvas and re-juvinate your passion for drawing. These hobbies would be your stress-busters for the rest of your life and they will also allow you to break the monotony during this lock-down period

3) Each day spend quality time with your family members: Watch a movie together or play some board/ card game. You will treasure these memories life long.

4) Exercise/ meditate for at least one hour daily: I’m sure your mother’s would be pampering you with delicacies but you don’t want to end up gaining 2-3 kg’s during this period. Also, this would help you in staying sane during this phase when all you are hearing is gloomy/ depressing news regarding COIVD19

5) Try to learn some new skill – there are a lot of free courses on internet. You can probably learn a new language or hone your photography skills by doing these courses.

I have also set a few goals for myself during this period and I would like to share them with you. Will update you at the end of this period regarding the progress which I have made regarding these.

• Apply for Fellow of American College of Surgeons (FACS)

• Publish two articles regarding my breast cancer patients

• Me and Dr. Ila have sighted and clicked more than 120 Indian birds over the last 10 years. I want to print a book with all these images for our reference

• Do a online course to improve my photography skills

I hope this posts helps the undergraduate students plan these days better. Do reach out to me if you are able to make a list for yourself and keep sharing your progress with me. It will motivate me to achieve my targets as well.

covid19todolist #RohanKhandelwal

PS – attaching a pic of me and Dr. Ila Jain Khandelwal which we clicked during our swine flu quarantine period.

Role of a Breast Cancer Husband

Western statistics reveal that nearly seven out of ten marriages touched by breast cancer do not survive and ultimately lead to divorce. With the incidence of breast cancer increasing in young Indian women, this problem will soon be evident here as well. In fact, during my tenure in Bangalore, I did come across a few patients who were deserted by their families after their diagnosis of Breast Cancer.

Although there is no magic formula for a couple to weather this difficult period, but some of these points can help husbands support their wives during their Breast Cancer treatment.

  1. Stand by her during the treatment & tell her that you ‘love’ her

In a marriage or any intimate relationship, silence is not golden. The strong silent type need not apply for the position of husband, lover, best friend, confidante and supporter of a woman with breast cancer. Your bride, your wife, needs and wants to hear from you. Actions may speak louder than words, and you may take all the right actions, but speaking words brings comfort, reassurance and knowledge of your inner feelings. She cannot read your mind. Being there for her is more than physical or economic security. Words have meaning. And the three most important words in the English language at this time, at this moment, when together you are facing her mortality, are: “I love you.”

  1. Involve her in the decision making

It is not easy for a lady to deal with the diagnosis of breast cancer. Often it has been seen in India that husbands and family members make clinical and personal decisions on their behalf. Although these ladies appreciate some of the decisions but they would love to be part of others, which involve their future.

A simple example is deciding between a mastectomy & breast conservation surgery. Family members err towards the side of mastectomy but in reality a lot of young patients actually want breast conservation surgery. It always helps to consult them in private and then take a collective decision.

  1. Go to Her Appointments

It is not what you do when you accompany her to treatment, but rather the act itself that speaks volumes to her. It also gives you some sense of empowerment. You are more than a helpless spectator cursing the damned disease. You have joined the battle.

  1. Sometimes humor helps

Funny, it does. There’s even a study to prove it, by psychologist Sharon Manne of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Couples who laughed at cancer coped better with the stress of treatment. We know that the act of laughing is itself healing. It makes us feel better and helps us get better.

  1. Continue to enjoy as a couple – she is NOT invalid

Treatment can be grueling and tiring, but you both need to live your life as fully as possible. Continue to enjoy what you enjoy individually and as a couple, particularly the latter. Don’t let cancer put an end to your personal and social life.

 

If you follow these simple steps, you can also become a Proud Husband of a Breast Cancer Survivor

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Article By:

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal

Consultant, Breast Oncosurgeon

W Pratiksha Hospital

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”

Lessons from Nature #1

#Patience #LessonsfromNature #Photography #Motivation #RohanKhandelwal

When I started doing bird photography, there used to so many instances when the bird used to fly away just as I was about to click it or the picture used to come out hazy. It was frustrating initially and many times I thought that I will never get a chance to click that particular bird again. But, with time I realized that patience does pay off.
This quote by Aristotle is so true “Patience is bitter but it’s fruit is sweet”. This is exactly what wildlife photography has taught me. There is a right time for everything and only after a lot of patience and hard work, does that moment arise.
So don’t lose hope and keep working towards your goal. Be patient when you are going through a rough patch, because ultimately you will come out on top. When the right moment comes, it will be magical…just like this pic!!

Yellow Fotted Green Pigeon

Yellow Fo0ted Green Pigeon

Is Left-Handedness a Handicap for Training in Surgery?

Despite the progress made by our society, left handedness is still not widely accepted. Parents like to see their children write with their right hand initially and start correcting them if they use their left hand. Despite coming from a family, where my mother is left handed, I have faced the music many times in my life for using my left hand. My teachers at school used to scold me for my awkward way of writing despite having a reasonable hand writing (which is uncommon for doctors 😉 ). In spite of the scoldings, I persisted with my own way of writing and one advantage of my style was that nobody could copy my work during the exams 😉 ;-).

Uncommon way of writing in India but common in the west.

Uncommon way of writing in India but common in the west.

I always wanted to become a surgeon from the second year of medical school and while observing my seniors (who were mostly right handers) operate, the thought of a left handedness being a handicap crossed my mind many times. My teachers, most of whom were right handed, did not have much to say when I approached them with this query as a medical student but none of them discouraged from taking surgery as a career.

The thought of working as a left handed surgeon started haunting me again when I started my residency. Initially, I did find things a bit difficult because all the instruments were designed for right handed surgeons and left handed instruments (like left handed golf clubs) were not widely available. Most of my seniors, initially found it difficult to teach me the basics and used to get a bit annoyed when I used to start operating by standing on the left side of the table (for those who are not aware, most of the procedures are done by standing on the right side of the table). My mother, who is a successful left handed gynaecologist, was a constant source of inspiration during this tough period.

After the initial hiccough’s, my seniors became accustomed to my left handedness and taught me the skills more patiently. In no time, I mastered the techniques with my left hand and then started to hone my skills with the right hand as well. In fact, I tie right handed knots better than left handed knots (probably because I was taught by a right handed surgeon).

Now when I look back, being right handed or left handed really does not matter in the long run (in terms of a surgical career) and I would urge an aspiring surgeon not to give up the dream of pursuing a career in surgery because of being left handed. There have been many studies conducted on this topic and  they have found no difference in surgical outcomes between right and left handed surgeons.

Some helpful points for a left handed surgical trainee:

1. Don’t switch away from your dominant hand. Get good at doing the basics with your left hand (cutting straight with a scalpel, basic dissection, basic suturing), then learn how to do everything right-handed. If you start too early trying to do everything with both hands, you’ll probably flounder around and not improve as quickly as you should.

2. Learn to tie knots right handed first, since you’re going to learn to tie with both anyway.

3. Use scissors with your right hand initially. Learning to cut left handed with right-handed scissors is tricky, especially with heavy Prolene or other sutures.

4. Once you’re good with your dominant hand, by all means work on ambidexterity. Being able to operate with both hands has been advantageous to me as I’ve progressed through residency.

5. Don’t let being a lefty deter you in any way from pursuing a surgical career.

In the end I can just say one thing,

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🙂 🙂