“I am a dermatologist and just started my private practice last August. I reached here through sheer hard work and labour—I cleared my MBBS from a reputed college in Delhi and for my specialization I chose dermatology. I was a topper in my class and could have chosen any other field as well—from cardiology, ophthalmology, gynaecology...and more pressing fields. But I chose dermatology because I felt that there is a lot of scope to grow, learn and expand in this field given all the new skin and hair treatments that are coming up. I opened a state-of-art clinic in my hometown Hissar, the first of its kind, where I offer treatment for hair and skin issues. I was so sure of myself that given Hissar is a small place, and I being a well-educated dermatologist, my practice is sure to take off well. My practice had started off well with lots of patients coming to me for laser hair removal treatments, photofacials, microdermabrasions, acne treatments etc.
But then the COVID pandemic happened.
For the past two months, I have no new patients coming in, except for one or two urgent cases in a week; understandably so since no one wants to expose themselves unnecessarily.
And that is where all my troubles are starting. What if this lockdown continues, and I do not get enough patients, how will I cover my costs? I had taken a loan for all the equipment in my clinic and need to pay that off.
And what about living with the shame of ignominy? Will I be forgotten? My friends who are in gynaecology, IVF, cardiology, are still working day in and out, moving ahead in their careers, earning more and making a reputation for themselves for being life saviours. They are moving full guns ahead while I am spending most of my days playing PUBG. How come I reached this position?
I chose to be a dermatologist, didn’t I? But then, is it okay for me to be jealous of them? Have I chosen the wrong field? Should I have listened to everyone at home and chosen cardiology instead? There are so many questions that have been bothering me ever since the lockdown happened.
I feel embarrassed in talking to my friends in other fields...they hardly have time; they are so busy. They are making money, helping more and more patients...when someone asks me how is my practice progressing, I’v no words for them. I have resorted to lying or hiding true facts such as last week, only one patient came to me that too for a very small concern. Sometimes, in a fit of jealousy, I end up hoping that their practice suffers too as is mine, though I am not an evil person and I know wishing for such things is wrong.
Now with 4.0 lockdown, many restrictions have been eased. I have resumed my OPD, but now that the infection cases are rising more than before - is it safe even? We, dermatologists, are highly prone to COVID if we do not have the proper protective kit as we come in close contact with the patient. We can’t monitor our patients from a distance.
I am at a loss of what to do and how to proceed...the financial stress is mounting as is the embarrassment of not having a successful practice. I feel very shallow and ashamed when I lie to a friend who has a better, more thriving practice than me,” said Dr Renu Kundra, Hissar.
Non-COVID doctors and doctors in fields that are not essential, are facing similar issues of lack of self worth. Seeing their counterparts—other doctors in more pressing fields—move ahead in the race of life, is making them doubt their choices, lowering their self-esteem and making them struggle with base emotions such as envy and jealousy.