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“Every year, thousands of hopeful faces.
Hard work and dedication pays off.
Getting into medical college, to brand new places.
The “med-school experience” you ask? The seasoned student scoffs !”
But not here, not in Kasturba Medical College Mangalore.
Every year, once an Indian student finishes his/her 10th boards, looms in the big question. What about your future? Which line are you choosing? The most common choices are engineering or medicine. If the kid is a kind and impressionable young fellow, he/she ends up choosing the latter. But once they get into a medical college, what happens? More importantly what happens if it is KMC?(P.s : It’s NOT Sikkim Manipal for the last time!)
As MB Mangalore set out to interview Abhishek Tandon, a final year MBBS student of KMC Mangalore, we found that it’s quite a riveting affair. Hailing from the artistic and multicultural city Lucknow, he did his schooling from the coveted La Martiniere College and went on to join MBBS in 2011. Literary genius, distinction-holder , the go-to senior for doubts, Fine Arts Secretary and now the college ambassador to the prestigious LIMSC 2015 (Leiden International Medical Students Conference ); are just a few of his many accomplishments. Arjun, his younger brother, joined KMC in 2013. Following Abhishek’s lead he succeeded enormously in all aspects, winning laurels for the college.
MB Mangalore : Why did you want to join MBBS?
Abhishek Tandon : Both my parents are doctors and they sort of advised me not to get into medicine. (laughs) But you know how kids’ minds work, it just made me want to do it all the more. On a serious note, I was always fascinated by them, the way they worked, treated patients. So, I always had it in my mind that I wanted to become a doctor too. KMC was not something I’d thought of when I was preparing. But once I got into this college, I realised how fortunate I was. The teaching here is top notch. Even in AIIMS Delhi, from what I’ve heard, classes are delayed or cancelled a lot. But not here, the syllabus is always completed timely and we are given ample and more number of clinics hours as well.
Abhishek Tandon : It was a huge shift, to live in Lucknow all my life and then all of a sudden Mangalore happened. Lucknow is a very busy city, it’s abuzz all the time. On the other hand, Mangalore is a comparatively quieter city. And considering that all I knew in Kannada for a long time being ” Kannada Barudilla”, the people here are nice and eager to help you as much as possible, even when you don’t know the language. It’s tough the first few days. After that, you just grow to love the city more and more.
MB Mangalore : What made you want to join the Student’s Council? How was the whole experience?
Abhishek Tandon : Actually I didn’t think about it much at first. There was a senior, who was a part of the council when I was in first year. He used to tell me that I should give it a shot, in fact he himself went and got me the form for the Council. Before that I used to just go for cultural and literary events and fests because I enjoyed that a lot, and along the way people noticed I guess. But I was very nervous before the interview. Yet it all went on quite smoothly and I had one of the happiest days of my life while I was the Fine Arts Sec. It was a lot of work and responsibility, organizing the Inter-class and planning for Utsav. But the council members became like my second family away from home. Some of the best laughs and moments were shared when we used to meet up in the Council room. It was a tough job, but I had an amazing time doing it.
MB Mangalore : You’re the ambassador for LIMSC-2015. Tell us about LIMSC and your research work.
Abhishek Tandon : One of the best things about KMC is the opportunities we have in doing research work being undergraduates. Many colleges don’t have this luxury. I did a project on ” Epidemiology of Cervical Cancer in South India”, and one of the most helpful guides for doing my research. It wouldn’t have been possible without her at all. I had no idea about research when I started the project. But by the time I finished it, I learnt a lot. It needs patience and hard work, but the end result is worth it. Once the project is done, one needs to do 2 things : presenting it at a conference and getting it published in a good journal. I sent my abstract for LIMSC and when it got selected I was thrilled! LIMSC is basically the parent conference of ISCOMS. It’s 5-day conference in Netherlands which takes place biennially around March every other year.
MB Mangalore : Why is research work important?
Abhishek Tandon : Doing research work at an undergraduate level is an admirable feat. It boosts your CV for PG. In USMLE, candidates with published work have an edge over others. Even in India, when you apply to work in an hospital, they give more credit to you if you’ve done research work in UG. After MBBS, marks aren’t the only thing that matter. If someone is not so good at academics, he/she can make up for it by doing research work. So I’d definitely recommend every UG to try and do at least 1 project. Also, since MUSRF (Manipal University Student’s Research Forum) has started , it’s made the whole process easier and approachable to the students.
MB Mangalore : Can you tell us about any funny incident that happened with you during postings or classes?
Abhishek Tandon : Well recently, when we were giving our Com-med University exam, this happened. I’m not so well-versed in Kannada, so I find it a bit difficult taking a patient’s history in Kannada. Add onto that the pressure of University exams, you get my point I guess. Well I went to that patient and started asking him questions in Kannada, taking 15 minutes just get the minimum details. That’s when I realised, I hadn’t even tried really. I forgot to ask him if he understood Hindi or English. Turns out he could speak Hindi! I can’t express the relief I felt at that time, and my history was done so quickly. That’s when I realised how important it is to keep your cool during clinics.
MB Mangalore : Finally, what’s the equation with your brother?
Abhishek Tandon : Arjun is 3 years younger to me, but he never ceases to surprise me with his maturity.We are similar and different in our own ways. Like, he is very talkative and outgoing. If he goes to a restaurant, he’s someone who’ll strike up a bond with the manager and will surely get a discount on his next visit. I on the other hand, am a bit shy and don’t open up so easily. But we both enjoy going for literary events and like to have nothing to do with sports. I’d gone for fests and he also went for Pulse AIIMS where he won a large number of events. He always makes me proud. I’m sure he’ll do bigger things as the time goes.
Actor : Leonardo Di Caprio
Movie : Pulp Fiction
Hangout Place : Trattoria
Song : Let Her Go by Passenger
In medical school, studying isn’t the only thing which is important. Building a rapport with patients, getting through to people and handling complicated cases is a daily affair for doctors. That comes easy if at a student level one has exposure to a lot of patients, research work and extra-curricular activities. That’s what set a KMCite apart. They aren’t just good doctors, but great people as well.
Got any med-school stories about your college? Send them right here to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
This interview was taken by Lydia Miriam Abraham and Sreya Banerjee.