Moving to Sweden as a doctor: PhD admission

I have been receiving several phone calls and messages from doctors who want to move to Sweden. Most of them made the choice because their spouse is already in Sweden, while some others want to move to Sweden in search of good career opportunities, possibility to do research and quality lifestyle. When I started getting two or three queries every week or so, I decided that I write this blog post. If you have been directed to this blog post by me, please read it completely and ask me only follow-up questions. Thank you for understanding.

How and why did I move to Sweden?

I decided to move to Sweden for my then fiancé, who is now my life partner. While we met in 2015, I was doing my house-surgeoncy (internship) in India. My partner was doing his PhD in Sweden at that time. Besides this reason, I knew that post-graduate studies in India would mean 24*7 hardwork, stress, working in resource poor settings and zero fun. I was interested in volunteering for Wikipedia, painting and reading books in general. I knew that I will have to give up all these things I love in order to make my career as a specialist doctor in India.

I was interested in research, but I was good at clinical practice too. I didn’t have any past experience in research, but I had done my mandatory research project for MBBS with enthusiasm. I had assisted Wikipedians and post-graduates to do research. Opportunities for research were sparse in India, and most of them came without any funding or mentorship. While we were discussing career, my partner pointed out that I could try doing research in Sweden. I started gathering information about this possibility, and found that my MBBS from India is considered equivalent to a master’s degree (not specialist degree) in Sweden, because it offers a syllabus similar to the MD program in Sweden. Please note that MD is the basic medical degree in Sweden, equivalent to MBBS in India. When you specialize in a subspeciality in Sweden, you don’t get any extra degree, but you will be called as a specialist doctor in that subspeciality. For example, when you finish medical school in Sweden, you get an MD degree. Suppose you specialize in general medicine later on, your degree becomes MD (General Medicine).

I figured out that PhD admission in Sweden requires 4.5 years of university education in the relevant subject. Some PhD positions had specific requirements such as that the student should know fluent Swedish, that the student should have relevant experience in animal research and so forth. The application can be made free of cost, but please be aware that most PhD positions are highly competitive. The link to the application portal of Gothenburg University can be found here. It is not uncommon that as many as 200 applicants apply for one position. Fortunately for me, there were only around 30 applicants who applied for the PhD position that I later got selected for. Many applicants are likely to have a specialist degree in the subject area, so you have to show in your CV and letter of motivation that you have some unique skills that is useful for that particular PhD project. If you want to see what a CV and letter of motivation (LOM) looks like, please leave a comment in the comment box below with your e-mail ID and I shall send my CV and LOM to you.

It is the Professor’s discretion to choose the person they think is the most suitable for the PhD position. You are more likely to get a position if you know academic English, have published research papers in the past, worked as a research assistant or have any other relevant experience related to the research project. Make sure to write about these in your CV or letter of motivation. Knowing Swedish language is a plus, especially if you are applying for PhDs in clinical sciences. Professors usually take one to two months after the application deadline to find the right candidate. Most PhD vacancies are sent out around January (after Christmas) and September (after summer vacation), but you can always find a few vacancies on the Gothenburg University’s job portal regardless of the time of the year.

I had two rounds of interviews over Skype. In the first interview, I was asked about general things in life, my interests, my future plans, my experiences as a doctor, my reasons for choosing an academic career and so forth. It felt more like a friendly discussion than like an interview. I was asked to read through the thesis of a past student before I appeared for the second round of the interview. I read through the thesis and found it interesting, although many terms and concepts were new to me. I looked up as many unknown concepts as I could. The second round interview was more focused on my knowledge related to medicine and research, although I can’t remember being asked any tough questions. A week after the interview, I was informed that I got the job.

After the successful interview, I was asked to send my original certificates to the University for verification. My partner was returning to Sweden from India at that time, so I sent the certificates with him. It took around a month for them to complete the verification process and I was informed about the PhD admission officially from the University. I had applied for a spouse visa to move to Sweden at that time, so I switched it to PhD visa. I did this so that my visa application would be processed faster, because the waiting time for the PhD visa was shorter than the spouse visa. You can check the present waiting times for all visa categories here.

I applied in November 2015, got interviewed in early February 2016 and got accepted for the position in late February 2016. My certificates got verified in March 2016. I then waited for two more months to get my PhD visa, and started working as a PhD student from June 2016.

Free Medical Images Collection

These days I am illustrating Wikipedia articles with images related to medicine. Sometimes, the existing image(s) on an article are too old, so I would want to add a newer, higher resolution image by replacing the old one. Some articles do not have images at all. A major problem for me was in finding the right image for the given article. Wikipedia accepts images/media that are CC-BY-SA or lower, so I had to go through the existing image repositories to find out those with the right license for Wikipedia. I decided to tabulate some of the image repositories that have medical content, along with the license they are shared under. I hope this would be useful not only for me, but for everyone else who are looking for free images related to medicine. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, I have only included the repositories that I know of.

Source License Notes
Creative Commons search CC-varied Datasets from these collections are found on CC-search.
All Free Photos Free photos of all kinds
Burst Images Public Domain Free photos of all kinds
Medpix All Rights Reserved Medpix is a repository of medical cases run by the NIH, USA. The images are free for personal use, but need permission from the authors for any use other than personal. Contact the authors directly for permission.
Radiopedia CC-BY-NC-SA Collection of radiology images. Copyright rests with the author of the image.
Flickr Commons CC varied Media from Flickr Commons also shows up on CC search.
British Library Images from British Library, UK
ASH Image bank Fair Use A collection of hematology images. Login needed, free account creation.
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Mostly Public Domain Images related to healthcare, diseases, health promotion etc.
Brain Biodiversity Bank All rights reserved Altas of human brain. Radiology images and 3D movies available. Free re-use permitted, contact the authors for re-use permissions.
US National Library of Medicine Fair Use Contain images related to. medicine. Obtain permission from the website for re-use. Permission shall be granted on a case-by-case basis. Some images are CC.
National Eye Institute CC varied Some images are CC-BY. Results can be found from CC-search.
Duke University Digital Repository CC-BY-NC-SA Contains advertisements and handouts of medical products
Visible Body All Rights Reserved Some content is available without subscription. Contains 3D anatomy resources.
3D Embryo Atlas CC-BY-NC-ND Media related to embryology
Bio Atlas Use with attribution Contains high resolution histology and histopathology images of humans and animals
CAOM Histopathology slides, pages are slow to load. From Poznan
Brain-Maps Histo- and gross images of brains of humans and animals
Cancer Digital Archive Image repository of oncopathology
Aurora M-scope Most images in Public Domain Contains histopathology slides. Needs a special software for opening the files in high resolution.
Heidelberg University All Rights Reserved Contains educational images related to pathology
Pathobin A platform for uploading pathology slides. Copyright lies with the uploader.
National Institute of Health, USA Public Domain Images are on Flickr, hence available using CC-search.
Europeana CC varied Contains media related to history of medicine and natural history
Fossil Forum Collection of fossils. Individual uploaders hold the copyright. Fair use permitted.
Medillsb Varied Website of the association of medical illustrators. Contact individual authors for re-use.
Medical Graphics DE CC-BY-ND Illustrations related to medicine.
LifeScienceDB CC-BY-SA Create your own photos and videos of human anatomy
Neuroanatomy CC-BY-SA-NC Neuroanatomy media. From University of British Columbia. Contains 360 degree views of the brain, MRIs etc.
Dollar Street CC-BY-SA Collection of everyday objects, people, families showing socioeconomic status of people around the world.
Cell Image Library CC-varied Mostly public domain images of cells.
Heal Collection CC varied Images for medical education.
Stanford Medical Library CC varied Images related to medicine from Stanford.
National Cancer Institute CC-varied Contains media related to cancer.
Histology Atlas CC-BY-NC-ND Histology images
Audilab CC-BY-NC-SA 3D images related to anatomy
Sketchfab CC-BY-NC-SA Illustrations related to human body
Open Access Biomedical Search Engine Can perform advanced search by License type
Science Images of Australia CC-BY Natural history, medicine images
Library of Congress collection Varied History of medicine
The noun project CC-BY Contains icons for general use and those related to medicine
Somersault Images CC-BY-SA-NC Illustrations related to medicine
Smart Servier CC-BY Illustrations related to medicine
Ghorayeb Images CC-BY-NC=ND Collection of images from ENT
Ecure Me All Rights Reserved Illustrations and photos of diseases
University of California All Rights Reserved Images of clinical signs and symptoms
University of Iowa All Rights Reserved Images of dermatological conditions
Internet Pathology Laboratory All Rights Reserved Images related to pathology
Atlas of endoscopy All Rights Reserved Images related to endoscopy/gastroenerology

A step-by-step guide to exiting Calicut Medical College


This write-up is a step-by-step guide to securing your certificates after completion of MBBS course at Calicut Medical College.

Congratulations! You have just finished your internship. You are now awaiting your certificates. At your convocation, you received a framed certificate in face value, which you will proudly display in your show cases and will prove to be a of no worth elsewhere. To get your real certificates, you need to go through a lot of hardships. Yes, A LOT.

In this post, I have tried to put together the possible things you will have to do once you finish your internship rotations to get your certificates.

1. Complete your log book : Easily said. Get your photograph affixed and personal details entered. All faculty will advise you to stick to the ideal situation where you get your signatures on the last day of your posting at all fifteen departments. I have not yet known a single student who has put this into practice. On the last day of posting, you could be the one on duty, the department’s office could be closed for a holiday, the faculties in charge may be on leave, the faculty may have forgotten to bring his/her seal or you may not yet have your sub-confidential forms signed.

Nevertheless, try to get as many departments cleared as early as possible. You will be penalized for going to the departments after the convocation, if the faculty has changed or if the  attendance register is missing. In such instances, the faculty will sign your log books anyway, but you may need to do a lot of pleading and (or) whining.

Some tips to remember:

* At the department of community medicine, you need to produce a sub-confidential form complete with signatures from MOs of all periphery postings. Meet the faculty-in-charge only after getting your attendance percentage marked on the confidential form (CF) from the department’s office. (The office room is where the HIs sit)

* At the department of pediatrics, you should get the confidential form (CF) containing your attendance percentage from the department’s office. You should submit the sub confidential forms from NICU, PICU, DTU and pediatric surgery along with the confidential form to get your confidential form filled and signed. In the absence of HOD, the HOD-in-charge also signs the forms.

* The department of psychiatry sends the CFs directly to the co-ordinator for interns.

* The attendance percentage at emergency medicine has to be marked by the CA for the superintendent. Get the attendance register from the office of the superintendent and show it to the CA whose chamber is located just in front of the superintendent’s office. The attendance form signed by casualty duty MOs on all 15-16 days of the posting has to be produced at the the HOD of emergency medicine to get the CF signed.

* Before submitting them at the principal’s office, the duration of PMR & radiotherapy postings should be added to the orthopedics CF and signed over by the heads of either departments, the interns’ co-ordinator or the principal. The same holds true for transfusion medicine and radio-diagnosis, which are to be integrated into dermatology and pulmonology respectively. Generally, the interns’ co-ordinator does this without having to ask for it.

* The CF from the department of radiotherapy need not be submitted at B1 section.

* At the department of OBG, first get the confidential form from the office of O3 and then meet the unit chief and HOD. Be at O3 at the time specified for interns. Late comers will not be given the forms or signatures.

* Some faculty will keep you waiting for long before they sign your papers. Some give signatures only on Fridays. Some will fill up your grades on CF without even knowing who you are. Some will scold you (or interns in general) regardless of what you did. To easiest way to get through this is to act innocent. The harder way is …….. to fight the system.

* If you have made any corrections on your CFs or log book, get it countersigned by an MO or the HOD of the concerned department. This is extra work, so try to make no mistakes while filling the forms up.

2. Complete the NLC form : Now you have the log book ready. Get the NLC form from the office. Go to the hostel section and get ‘No dues’ or ‘Not stayed’ from hostels 1 to 4. Meet the HSQ secretary and get his/her signature and seal (The HSQ secretary would be someone from your batch). Now, meet the assistant warden (who is generally a faculty you know) and get her/his sign too. Then, go back to the office, pay Rs. 1000 as one time HSQ fee and get the seal of the assistant warden on the NLC.

Go to the department of physical education, which is located in the college stadium approximately 1.5 kilometres away from the college. Yes, most of you haven’t been to this department during your six years at medical college, but you will nevertheless have to get an NLC from here. The route is somewhat confusing if you are traveling for the first time, so mark the destination on google maps. You will be asked for an ID proof to prove who you are (I had already surrendered my ID card by then, so I showed my log book as proof).Your next destination is library & LRC. First, go to the chief librarian and have ‘no dues’ marked for book bank. Walk into the LRC and surrender your ID card. Get the signature and seal from the officer at the LRC.

Now, go back to the office with the completed NLC form and get it verified at B5 (this takes one working day) and countersigned by the Junior Superintendent.

3. Meet the co-ordinator for interns: Submit your log book and NLC at the co-ordinator for interns’ office. The coordinator will scrutinize your documents and suggest corrections, if any. This takes about 15-30 minutes. In December 2015, some students skipped this step because there was no coordinator during that time.

4. Submit your log book : Submit your log book and NLC at B1 section with a request written on plain paper (request for CRRI certificate) and numbered from Thappal. You should also take a photocopy of the blank CRRI certificate (available at alumni photocopy centre), fill up the details and keep it along with the log book. It took me 8 working days to receive the CRRI certificate from B1.

5. Apply for receiving other documents : While you are at the office to submit the log book, write requests (on plain paper, one request for each certificate) for receiving your transfer certificate (TC) & conduct certificate (CC), SSLC & +2 certificate, attempt certificate and caution deposits from academic & hostel sections. The request for hostel caution deposit has to be addressed to the assistant warden and the rest of the requests to the principal. Attach your mark lists and a challan of Rs. 40 with the request for attempt certificate.You can collect the TC, CC, SSLC certificate, +2 certificate and attempt certificate from B5. I got SSLC & +2 certificates on the next day of application. It took me 40 days to receive my TC and CC, though I approached the section twice and informed my urgency. The hostel caution deposit is to be collected from the ‘last-stayed hostel section’ (LH4 in my case). It took me around 1.5 months to receive it (I applied on December 30 and received the cheque in mid-February). At times, your cheque may not be signed by your assistant warden in which case you will have to meet her/him in person and get the signature in place. My caution deposit from the academic section was sanctioned in around 40 days.

Tips to remember:

* If you wish to study abroad, apply for the transcript. The transcript is a 3-page document that contains the period of posting at all departments during your study period, duration of instruction and a consolidated mark list. It took 14 working days for me to get the transcript (after a lot of pleading and calling the staff on phone). Your overseas University might ask you for the transcript directly from the University, but it is being given from B5 in our institute. The University of Calicut does not provide transcripts for MBBS students.

* The attempt certificate is for future use. Get all the certificates now in one go so that you will not have to go through this again at a later point of time.

Summary of the story : It will take several working hours for you to get what you want. Practice patience.

Now, you have successfully gotten out of college. Time to go to the University for more bureaucracy! I graduated out from Calicut University. I could get my stuff done in one day because I had done my homework well. Now on, you all would be under KUHS, and I don’t know what is likely to happen there, so I am not going into the details.Essentially, you have to get your MBBS degree certificate, provisional degree certificate and migration certificate from your University. The provisional degree certificate is for you to apply for your medical license from Travancore-Cochin Medical Council (TCMC) at the earliest. The University of Calicut sends the MBBS certificate to your postal address in four months (if marked as ordinary) and 2 months (if marked as urgent).  You pay extra to be marked as urgent. You will get the provisional degree certificate and migration certificate on the same day of application (Surprise!). Before going to the University, make sure that you have taken all academic documents starting from 12th standard certificate to the CRRI certificate (and their photocopies). The TC (or a letter from the principal in the concerned form available at the University) is mandatory for applying for the migration certificate.

Once you have the provisional degree certificate, apply to TCMC for your permanent registration number. The Alumni photocopy centre has copies of the application form. The gazetted officer who should sign over your personal details could be any faculty at or above the rank of Assistant Professor. It takes approximately three weeks to get your permanent license to practice medicine. (In case you forgot to send a particular certificate to TCMC, send it over registered post with a cover letter explaining your cause. After a week or so, call them on phone and make sure that they have received your extra certificate. TCMC doesn’t often attend phone calls, so try calling them many times over and over again between 10 am to 4 pm).

Important :

Scan all your certificates and store them in a secure place (I use google drive for this purpose). You will be able to generate any number of photocopies of the certificate from the digital copy even if you happen to lose the originals. The scanned copies will also be of use when you are applying online for higher studies. Your A3 sized mark lists do not fit into most scanners. The LRC is one of the very few places in Calicut where they offer scanning of A3 size pages.

 

Every year, interns spend several productive hours running in and out of offices to receive certificates that prove our legitimacy. Every one of us has stories about how they felt humiliated, threatened or disappointed at some point during this tedious process.Before you go through it, you don’t protest because you don’t know the magnitude of the problem. After having gone through it, you are out of the college and you are too tired to work towards changing this system. The end result is that the problem will perpetuate until we choose to do something to rectify it.

Cunningham Syndrome

If you love reading The Cunningham’s Manual Of Practical Anatomy, God save you.

If you don’t,

Welcome to the club. Feel free to have a drink.

If you have no idea about the book I am speaking of, hold on.
The Cunningham’s Manual is every medico’s nightmare. The peculiarity of this book is that it is un-understandable. Most of them who tried to interpret Cunningham have perished in the attempt (May their souls rest in peace. Amen.). Rest of them are either nuts or are Professors in Anatomy department.

Cunningham is known to have tortured medicos from times immemorial. He is the lone survivor in the dissection hall. His lesser known (and therefore, less toxic) counterparts – Chaurasia and Dutta were mercilessly thrown out through the window when they tried to enter the dissection hall. Ever since, medicos are striving to legalize the entry of Chaurasia to the dissection hall.

The fatal disease in which the patient has an irresistible urge to read Cunningham is called ‘Cunningham’s syndrome (CS)’. Such patients are referred to as Cunninghamists. They are normal individuals, except that they smell of formalin.

Cunningham’s syndrome is of two types: congenital and acquired.

(i) Congenital CS : These Cunninghamists are born with silver scalpels in their mouths. This syndrome is usually found in individuals who are genetically related to Henry Grey. They have an irresistible urge to dissect every corpse and have a continuous craving for gold medal in anatomy. Incidence is one in 200.

(ii) Acquired CS: Acquired syndrome is not evident until PG entrance. Once the victims crack the PG entrance and enter Anatomy department, they are forced to read Cunningham. Due to the constant, uniform and slow Cunningham poisoning, they become Cunninghamists. The striking features are gloved hands and presence of forceps in coat pockets.

Cunningham contains a neurotoxin called somnabulin, which when administered orally causes the paralysis of orbicularis oculi and the consequent drooping of eyelids. It is also known to cause sudden involuntary, jerky movements of the intrinsic muscles of the tongue when a question is asked by the Professor at the dissection hall. Further research on the toxic effects of Cunningham is still under progress.

The Cunningham’s Manual contains numerous diagrams, which are as abstract as Salvador Dali’s paintings. Medicos use these diagrams to scare those kids who refuse to eat their vegetables.

The Cunningham is also known to have caused ‘exam madness’, which is characterized by blah-blahing, unstoppable writing and excessive consumption of answer sheets.
Cunningham is lovingly (pun intended) called ‘Kannettan(കണ്ണേട്ടന്‍)’ by Malayali medicos. Medicos love Kannettan and Kannettan loves the medicos in return. They make such a happy couple (sarcasm intended).

P.S : Non-medicos may substitute the name of their most ‘horrible’ textbook with Cunningham.