The suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi, a resident doctor from BYL Nair hospital, has opened a can of worms for the medical community. Primary investigation in Dr Payal Tadvi Case says that the suicide was committed due to ragging. The matter is under investigation and whether Payal’s suicide was a result of casteist taunts is yet to be proved. Considering all the possibilities, the suicide of Payal should compel every element of the society and the proficient’s to ponder upon.
If the slightest possibility of any casteism involved is found in Dr Payal Tadvi Case of suicide, it should always be strongly condemned. But at the same time, sufficient care to be taken while discussing this issue that it doesn’t further ignite the communal emotions and give birth to an apartheid system in the medical community, which never existed till now. Open communal war and ‘an eye for an eye’ cannot be a solution to any issue particularly for intellects like doctors. Since postgraduate reservations are the talk of the town in the medical field, the last few months have shown a huge communal split in the medical field. Such split in the doctors community, who are the highly polished intellectual professionals definitely proves a bad omen and predicts a possibility of social chaos. Fluctuating policies about postgraduate admissions and reservations are leaving unreserved categories with hardly one or two seats, violent exchanges between the reserved and unreserved categories on social media has lead to serious unrest in the medical field. Reservation is a controversy to be discussed separately. Although everyone has a right to fight for their rights in a democratic way, one should think with his/her discriminative intelligence too. Every doctor should remember that we are all children of Mother Medicine, and the patient is our religion, beyond our own caste, creed and religion. This issue is also a learning lesson for the government. Any social change by the government has to be brought gradually and slowly for it to be socially acceptable. Particularly issues like that of reservations in higher education can have social repercussions and lead to a communal discord.
Also Read: Shall We Learn Anything from the Suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi? – Article by Dr Amol Annadate
Beyond the caste / communal angle to this unfortunate incidence, some more serious issues should not be overshadowed. Issues like stressful situations and work overload of resident doctors in the medical colleges, discrimination done at different levels due to various reasons, inter-personal relations among the doctors, poor management of human resource and the workplace in medical colleges are some important things that should not be overlooked in this case. Considering communal angle to Payal’s suicide it must be a precipitating factor in all this stress that made her feel alienated and compelled her to commit suicide. The whole system is equally a failure resulting in a feeling of helplessness and alienation among residents like Payal. Every doctor has his own tale of such instances of his postgraduate medical education. Each one of us has faced mental and physical stress leading to burnout during our residency years. Every year, at least two residents end up with tuberculosis in BMC hospitals. Sion hospital orthopaedic department has a record of at least one resident discontinuing the PG education, as they are not able to sustain the work pressure. MARD strikes are often knee jerk reactions to such stressors. A department in a medical college is a flood of many negative emotions like fear, hate, resentment, rivalries, leg pulling etc. Although the truthful motive of us doctors is to give the best possible service to our patients, this takes a toll on our psyche. Casteist slurs or torture of juniors by seniors ultimately create a lot of stress. This makes even a kind and compassionate person bitter towards his/her subordinates and at some point of time an innocent soul like Payal gives up exposing the ugly face of the situation comes in the society. We must never forget that medical education is not just to make intelligent doctors with a long line of degrees but we are supposed to produce compassionate, empathetic and kind humane doctors. We should also aim to produce doctors who will not just effectively cure an illness but, will also offer ethical leadership to the society as sensitive human beings. The medical education department needs to revamp the system for better management of medical colleges and human resources. Medical education also needs to teach students about better interpersonal relations and empathy. A better understanding of each other as doctors is the first step towards successful personal and professional life.
The medical field is facing a major ethical crisis today. The issue of reservation in higher medical education, cutthroat competition, work pressure in medical colleges has added fuel to the fire. An unfortunate incidence like Dr Payal Tadvi Case of suicide further increases the unrest. This is not just an internal blow to the entire medical community but also poses a challenge to the public image of the medical community. All these issues must be handled with the utmost care by the government, society and the medical community. A long term solution to such issues should be implemented than temporary solutions. Looking at the plight of health in our state, an emotionally stable doctor is need of the hour. This is not a time to portray anyone as a villain but to sit back and introspect about each and every element in society.
You can also read Marathi translation of this article on Dr Payal Tadvi Case was published in Lokmat Mumbai Main Edition on 30 May 2019.