Unlike most people in Pakistan, my decision of choosing MBBS as a profession was purely my own. No one, including my parents, coerced me into becoming a doctor. It sounds very clichéd but Grey’s Anatomy and House M.D. definitely played a part in cementing my decision. I had a good academic record and a bit too much of self-confidence so I assumed I’d get in anywhere I want but the first blow came when I failed the AKU test. The only other test that I gave was for Shifa College of Medicine and I had no idea if I’d make it or not. I did.
First things first, we didn’t have a campus. We were situated somewhere in the middle of the hospital, with a separate entrance though. We had one lobby which was the only sitting area that we had if we weren’t in class. We didn’t have a sports ground, our sports days were held in the CDA park in front of the hospital, with the boundaries cordoned off with tents while we were there. So it was bleak and gloomy at first. Four years later now, they’ve finally managed to get a campus and class of 2021 will be enrolled there. I know these points seem superficial but when the studies and the pressure come crashing down, you need places to sit and breathe that are not part of the hospital.
Excellency of the teachers and faculty varies in different departments. Visits from the Consultants are always amazing and give you a different, more realistic insight into the clinical world, things that you can’t see on a PowerPoint presentation. There are no bad teachers, just some who are less interested in actually teaching relevant stuff, than others. It is true that at the end of the day, you’re on your own. They’re pretty concerned about our attendances and they’ve an extremely strict policy. There is adequate clinical exposure, provided you’re someone who wants to learn and not sit back and laze around.
When it comes to academics, one of the strong points about this college is that they’ve managed to establish an extremely good US-MLE record. Alumni in US, UK, Canada and Australia are well connected and they keep visiting from time to time to acquaint the current students with the system. You’ll always find seniors prepping for steps or plab so that interaction is pretty useful and makes you think about postgrad from 3rd year already. Another plus point is the emphasis on research and the opportunities you come across. Researches are considered pretty important in US, UK and give a good boost to your residency resume. The hospital experience is excellent, lots of learning opportunities directly from the consultants and plenty of clinical exposure.
Extra curriculars include a well established debating society, SDL (Shifa Debating League), SSH (Shifaites Serving Humanity) which is a charity/ welfare society, SSS (Shifa Student Society) which conducts the annual SIST (Shifa InterScholastic Tournament). All of these manage to break the monotony of studies and give a good break to the students working in these.
I’m still in fourth year and I’m not going to lie that it hasn’t been difficult because there’s a lot of stress and pressure and there’s A LOT of studying to do. And you can only be good in what you do if you’re actually interested in it. I do not regret my decision of coming here and given a second chance, I would do it again because the amazing things here cover up the bad ones. And when you see patients and the diseases, diagnose something correctly or pick up a clinical finding, it’s the greatest feeling ever. And to know that you can somehow alleviate the pain and misery, makes you forget any bad things that happen, only motivating you to strive harder than ever to become the best that you can.