Pushan Banerjee | #TalkbackTuesday

#TalkbackTuesday number 23 – with Pushan Banerjee, and we talk about neurology, medicine, and society.

Pushan Banerjee | #TalkbackTuesday

Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday. This week’s interview is with Mr. Pushan Banerjee. See his interview below.

Talkback Tuesday is a feature for and about everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person, and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own.

1. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what is your current side project?

Hello everyone. I’m Pushan Banerjee, presently working as a junior resident in neurology.

2. Could you explain why you chose to specialize in neurology? What are the current applications of neurological medicine, and where do you see the science in, say, 25 years?

Well neurology is a super-specialty in the field of medicine. That means you get to do it after finishing your Master’s Degree. I’m not exactly specializing in it, I’m just a house staff. But if anyone has ever had a loved one crippled with paralysis or the myriad of disorders affecting the nervous system you’d know the kind of pathos we’re dealing with.

The realm of neuromedicine covers both cognitive and the physical aspects. And realizing that the brain works in mysterious ways only compounds the fact that not every disease can be explained or treated.

Neuroscience Brain | Pushan Banerjee #TalkbackTuesday
As a science, neuromedicine has incredible potential for battling disease and aiding in the advancement of quality of life.

As a subject, I’d say neurology is still at an infantile stage. Everyday we keep discovering new pathways in the brain, new afflictions and possibly new ways of dealing with them.

Take Stephen Hawkins’ example. He suffers from a debilitating condition called Lou Gehrig’s disease (incidentally named after an American baseball player). Until a few years back, this would kill you before your thirties, but with the advent of effective medication people affected can now hope to see their grandchildren.

3. So where do you see yourself in 5 years – do you see yourself super-specializing in Neuroscience? Do you have other specialties in mind? What does a career in medicine mean to Pushan Banerjee?

There’s this popular adage among doctors which goes like this:
A physician knows everything but does nothing,
A surgeon knows nothing but does everything,
A gynecologist knows nothing and does nothing.

Jokes apart, you could say I have this fascination towards medicine because of the thrill involved. The thrill of arriving at an answer – a diagnosis. Shows like House have made it look greatly entertaining but it’s not really how it works.

Most people will turn up with a cold,a headache or a malady of the motions than exciting medical marvels. But the fact of the matter is no matter how trivial the condition, the satisfaction lies in easing someone’s pain. And that’s what medicine is, not just to me, but a whole lot of people who’ve taken it up as a profession.

Most people will turn up with a cold or a headache than exciting medical marvels. But no matter how trivial the condition, the satisfaction lies in easing someone’s pain.

I could see myself in neurology five years from now. But if I had to choose another, I would say Cardiology. The average Indian is thrice as likely to seek some sort of Cardiology consultation at some point of his life than the global average.

Okay that stat was made up but you get my point – Indians aren’t exactly the fittest people out there and are more likely to resort to Rosuvastatin for their cholesterol than the gym.

4. Speaking of India, what would you say is the state of medicine in India? Also, as an insider with a stake in the industry, do you think there is (scope for) harmony between the medical community and the general public?

India’s healthcare is in shambles. From a statistical point of view, the WHO recommends that a country spend at least 5% of its GDP on healthcare. India spends a measly 1.2%. We can spend billions to buy the latest in military weaponry for a war that’ll never happen but we can’t upgrade our health system that is dealing with its biggest crisis in recent times. It isn’t a surprise that countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have beaten India to healthcare parameters like infant and maternal mortality.

Times of India Doctor violence | Pushan Banerjee #TalkbackTuesday
Doctors in India are often treated violently. Picture courtesy: Times of India.

The public today is suffering from a great sense of mistrust. I’ll not be going into the recent spates of violence against doctors all over – that will be too much for one day, but what people need to understand is that doctors aren’t miracle workers. People will die despite the best of interventions. That is how it works. Taking it out on your caregiver is just going to make matters worse.

True, the bereaved don’t usually have their best sense of judgement at the time and a way needs to be discovered to sort matters out which does not entail violence. My guess is as good as yours.

5. Finally, do you have anything to plug? It could be a business/ product, or it could be a movie, song, or just words of advice.

Live and Let Live.

Thank you for reading Talkback Tuesday! You can leave a follow-up question for Pushan in the comments below. I’ll get an answer for you.

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Next, check out the previous interview from last Tuesday with Bishoy George by clicking on the image below.

Bishoy Larsen #TalkbackTuesday
Click the image to see the interview.