A human being survives on the life force within him, and the life force is alive because of the oxygen supplied to the human body. The process of respiration is so unconsciously undertaken by our body, that we seldom notice it. None at all pause to understand and appreciate the intricate complexities and the beauty of this respiratory system.
Until, it troubles them!
As an MD chest medicine, you will be the one who gets to study in minute detail the pulmonary functions, and to diagnose, cure, maintain and manage all disorders /diseases of the respiratory tract and the lungs.
The diseases you will deal with may range from tuberculosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, to lung cancer.
In some countries it is called chest medicine, in some others it is called respiratory medicine, and in some others it is called pulmonary medicine. This makes the specialist a chest physician or a pulmonologist.
Once you have completed the grilling Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelors of Surgery course, you can sit for the various entrance exams. At the national level there is All India Post Graduate entrance test and at the individual state level for the domicile holders there are state entrance exams; While private colleges and deemed universities like DY Patil college, Manipal University, and so on, hold their independent entrance exams. PGI Chandigarh and AIIMS Delhi have their individual exams as well, as they are autonomous bodies.
At which rank you will be able to procure a seat in MD chest medicine depends on the students mix and their preference that year. The Doctor of Medicine course is of three years. Earlier the MD chest medicine seats were taken just before the paraclinical branches, but now it is generally at par with internal medicine. If in case you are unable to procure the MD seat and you wish to opt for a diploma then the Diploma in Tuberculosis Chest Diseases [DTCD] is of two years. Students can also take up the three year long DNB i.e. Diplomate of National Board in respiratory medicine. Entrance exam for DNB is separate. For those who have pursued a DTCD, and wish to study further, they could take up DNB or MD, which will be reduced to two years for them.
Not all colleges currently offer TB chest medicine as a specialisation. The number of seats in this field are increasing but not at par with the increase in the seats in internal medicine. For the list of colleges offering TB chest medicine as a specialisation, you can visit the official website of medical council of India [MCI]. It is www.mciindia.org
Since this course is like a super speciality in itself, no DM after MD chest medicine is available. You could pursue a fellowship after the specialisation though. Fellowship opportunities are scattered all over India, some recognised some unrecognised. There are also various fellowships available abroad. Some fellowships are available in bronchoscopy, thoracoscopy, [both are interventions], critical care medicine [deals with ventilators and end of life care], and sleep medicine [issues related to problems with oxygen supply during sleep, snoring, insomnia, etc]
As a specialist you could get attached to any hospital, government or private. Setting up your own clinic is also feasible, in the sense that you can handle the outpatient department in your clinic, and if any procedure is required you could perform it in the tertiary centre you are attached to. This saves you the cost of buying and maintaining instruments required for interventions. The third option is to join a teaching institute as an assistant professor or a lecturer. One thing is worth noting that you could take up two of the three options mentioned simultaneously [private practice and attached to hospital] or if you have the ability to manage, you could be doing all three of them at the same time.
This is a field where there is immense scope for research. As a part of a teaching institute or a hospital you could be carrying out your own research and submitting papers to national and international societies. As an individual practitioner and researcher, you may find it a tad difficult to find the right funds and sponsorships.
The pay back on your time, money and efforts invested in chest medicine is excellent. Your earning will be at par with that of a super specialist. As far as the quality of life is concerned, it will be great too. No irregular working hours or night calls. This is because the related diseases and disorders develop over a period of time and not come crashing down on a person unexpectedly. If you specialise in critical care medicine, then emergencies will be a regular part of your life.
This field is growing in popularity. But if you decide to pursue this field in the next couple of years, then a decade into your practice you will be very very well placed, as you will have the experience and rarity value on your side.
To be a pulmonologist, you need to possess certain skills over and above what is required by the specialist [high aptitude, constant learning, practical applications etc]. You require to be talking to the patient; this means you need high degree of counselling skills. The pulmonary disorders more often than not need constant monitoring, longer treatments, and maintenance of the disease. During your long relation with the patient, interaction and words will take you a long way. Besides, since you will constantly deal with diseases like TB, it is mandatory for you to maintain your health, fitness, and immunity level, to alleviate your own anxiety while treating the patients.
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Garima is a free lancer with Gyan Central. she is someone who dares to dream, and performs to progress.