In Pakistan, a long-standing tradition involves parents aspiring for their children to become doctors or engineers from birth. However, the dynamics have shifted over time, and the dream of becoming a doctor is losing its appeal for both children and their parents. As the protest of young doctors persists in the country, let’s explore the “problems” they are facing and their impact on the healthcare system.
- 1 The High Cost of Becoming a Doctor
- 2 Challenging Salary Conditions
- 3 Safety and Security Concerns
- 4 Long and Stressful Working Hours
- 5 Low Doctor-to-Patient Ratio
- 6 Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities
- 7 Government Policies and Working Conditions
- 8 Mental Health Impact
- 9 Is Becoming a Doctor in Pakistan Still Worth It?
- 10 In Conclusion
The High Cost of Becoming a Doctor
One of the foremost issues young doctors encounter is the exorbitant cost of medical education. Dr. Haider Abbas, stationed at PIMS Hospital in Islamabad, highlights that becoming a doctor involves a significant financial burden. While government medical colleges offer lower fees, private institutions charge substantially higher amounts. Moreover, expenses for books, hostels, and educational activities add to the financial strain. For many aspiring doctors from low-income families, the dream of pursuing an MBBS seems unattainable.
Challenging Salary Conditions
Once young doctors complete their education, they often face inadequate salaries. Dr. Sukhra, who graduated from China and is currently posted at DQ Hospital in Gujranwala, points out that doctors from Pakistan’s private or foreign medical colleges are not paid for their housework. Although the government increased the monthly salary for house jobs, it remains insufficient for a comfortable living. Many doctors struggle to meet their daily needs and cannot save for the future.
Safety and Security Concerns
Another major concern for young doctors is their safety while on duty. Working in government hospitals can expose them to risks of violence from patients’ families. Dr. Haider Abbas emphasizes that doctors are often uncertain about returning home safely due to the prevailing hospital conditions. Inadequate security measures and lack of protection exacerbate the risks. Tragically, incidents of violence against medical professionals have even resulted in fatalities.
Long and Stressful Working Hours
Doctors face exhausting and lengthy shifts, significantly affecting their well-being and personal lives. Dr. Sakhra mentions working 36-hour shifts twice a week, with no provisions for rest in many hospitals. This poses additional challenges for female doctors, as late-night travel to distant hostels can be unsafe. The restricted radius in which house doctors must remain on-call limits their freedom.
Low Doctor-to-Patient Ratio
Pakistan’s government hospitals suffer from an inadequate number of doctors compared to the rising population. The doctor-to-patient ratio is much lower than the international standard. Dr. Sukhra reveals that her hospital receives thousands of patients daily, leading to an overwhelming workload for the limited number of doctors. The situation demands an urgent increase in the number of doctors to provide adequate healthcare services.
Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities
Young doctors express frustration with the lack of opportunities for career growth and specialization in the medical field. Dr. Sakhra argues that the existing system does not facilitate doctors’ progress and development. Despite a considerable patient load, there is insufficient support for doctors to gain experience and enhance their skills. Scholarships and programs to pursue advanced courses abroad are needed to improve their career prospects.
Government Policies and Working Conditions
Doctors also point out that government policies do not favor their profession. The current government has faced criticism for being “anti-doctors” with limited efforts to improve the healthcare infrastructure. Contract-based employment is becoming more common, which raises concerns about job security and affects doctors’ dedication and performance.
Mental Health Impact
The struggles and obstacles faced by young doctors take a toll on their mental well-being. Dr. Adil reveals that some doctors become psychiatric patients themselves due to the pressures they endure. The rising frustration and lack of government and hospital management support lead to despair and disillusionment. Unfortunately, the government appears indifferent to the challenges doctors face.
Is Becoming a Doctor in Pakistan Still Worth It?
Given the prevailing circumstances, the question arises whether pursuing a career as a doctor in Pakistan is still worthwhile. Dr. Haider contends that if one has a passion for service and no other responsibilities, becoming a doctor might not be a loss-making deal. However, the current situation and the prevailing frustrations make it an increasingly challenging and uncertain career path.
The issues faced by young doctors in Pakistan are multi-faceted and deeply concerning. From the high cost of education to challenging working conditions and safety concerns, these problems demand urgent attention and reform from the government and relevant authorities.
Addressing the challenges, doctors face is vital to ensure a robust and sustainable healthcare system in the country. By providing better support, opportunities for growth, and improved working conditions, Pakistan can retain talented medical professionals and enhance the overall healthcare landscape for the betterment of medical staff and patients.