Patients-not just Images

Devoted to Education and Practice in Patient-centered Radiology

Chairman's Corner


Ravi Ramakantan

It was an unusually hot Saturday afternoon in June as I sat sipping the patented kokum surbath on the katta outside the KEM Canteen. I was juggling teaching session between KEM and Tata and the last thing I wanted was a call from an unknown number.

My half-hearted “Hello” brought this on…

“Sir, my name is …., I am one of the new residents who joined yesterday…..”

At the hospital yesterday, I had welcomed four new postgraduate students. - all four girls. My famed memory for names and faces could not put a face to the name. all the new residents being small, diminutive, articulate girls, eager to learn. Each was from out of town.

I knew they had come surviving the NEET battlefield

The journey these young people take to get a postgraduate admission – especially in radiology - reminds me of salmons. No! they are not well known in Mumbai. But, my all-time favourite essay “Origin of Death” by the Nobel Laurette George Wald refers to these.. He was talking how in evolution; it has gotten so very important to preserve a species.

In his edited words…

“…in this way (the salmon) begins its journey upstream. It is no fun. The bears are waiting for it, the Indians are waiting for it, the sportsmen are waiting for it, the canning industry is waiting for it..…..they beat themselves to pieces doing that kind of thing. The salmon that reach the spawning grounds are already dying organisms. They’re all torn up, with great wounds in their sides which bacteria have invaded….”

This is so true of those that survive the NEET entrance examinations.

Over the years, I have learned that many of these young boys and girls – especially those from outside city feel emotional upheavals in a new environment. Besides, some of them have trouble facing the rigors of a resident’s life in busy hospitals being burdened by unending work..

On Day 1, therefore, I am generally nice to the new students. What happens thereafter is an altogether a different story – a story - best not told!

And so, yesterday, I had welcomed the new students with my usual bhashan perfected over 35 years. Based on many experiences, I tell with great emphasis that the students were free to see me with any personal or professional problems and they should not burden themselves with issues that others teachers I could help solve.

Back to phone call.

“.. Sir, tomorrow I have the choice to change my admission from this hospital and continue my DNB course in this.. or this… ….. hospital “ (She named a few large public teaching hospitals outside Mumbai)

“Sir, I am confused what I should do? Should I continue at this hospital; or should I change? Sir, please help me decide”

Her voice was as anguished as the words were and It did not take me more than a few seconds to respond “If you were my daughter, I would strongly advise you to continue with us.. do not even go for the counselling tomorrow”.

Even as I said these words, I was aware that I would be retiring from the department in just a few weeks.

But there is Faith.

Faith that my colleagues will continue the tradition of teaching and training that we have and knowing that faculty who themselves are in NEET battleground with their own children will truly understand what these students are products of.

In my informal chats with my colleagues about my retirement, I have often been saying this:

“I know clinical work will go on,.,. but, take care of these students. They have come to us with great hope; besides, we are not doing anyone a favour by teaching, it is a part of our calling as doctors and medical teachers”.

Even as I type these words, I confident that the new students will not be disappointed in the teaching and training they get in the department – Ravi or no Ravi.

June 2019