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.

If you are a medical doctor, you can choose to study either pre-clinical or clinical subjects. There are usually more research opportunities in pre-clinical subjects than clinical subjects. Some projects require that you have experience working with animals or cell cultures. When you apply for pre-clinical subjects, be aware that you are competing with those who have a masters in that particular topic. For example, an applicant with masters in microbiology is likely to have more knowledge about COVID-19 vaccine that you have. Clinical researches usually involve working with patient data. If your project needs that you have patient contact, it is very likely that knowing Swedish is a requirement for application. Some projects might require that you have a Swedish medical license, because you might also have to involve in examining or treating patients. A lot of information about the project will be available on the application page, but you can also e-mail the responsible Professor and ask for more details if something is unclear. Don’t always expect fast replies, though.

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. In clinical sciences, you will often need to communicate with patients for data collection, which is why Swedish is usually an important requirement for clinical PhDs. In my case, Swedish was not mandatory because a good part of data collection had already been done. 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.

The duration of the PhD program varies depending on whether you perform lab duties and teaching or not. I got a 4 year program that does not involve teaching or lab work. It is not unusual to have 5 year and 5.5 year programs. It is wise to choose a longer program with teaching included if you are planning to continue in academia, because, with teaching, you can gain the relevant experience needed to get promoted as an assistant professor in future. If you instead plan to go back to the clinic or to the industry, a 4 year program would be more suitable for you.

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.

Related posts:

  1. Moving to Sweden as a doctor : Learning Swedish
  2. Moving to Sweden as a doctor: Medical license exam

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.

Miles Away

I woke up from sleep after what seemed like ages. I tried to lift my hands, but I could barely move them. I tried to listen to the voices around me. I heard the beep of the life support devices and the muffled voices of people talking to each other. I tried to make sense of the  voices, but they were incomprehensible. The peculiar sterile smell of the place was strangely familiar.

My head was aching. I felt like I was being pricked by a million needles all over my head. A sharp shooting pain ran down my spine and I felt as if I being electrocuted. My pulse quickened and the machines attached to me started beeping vigorously. I tried to wriggle out, but I couldn’t. I felt very heavy. I could only manage to move my body a bit in response to pain.

It now occurred to me that I was in a hospital, probably in the intensive care unit. I tried to think hard, but I couldn’t remember how I ended up there. My headache was worse than the worst episodic migraine I’ve ever had, something terrible must have happened to me. The last thing I remember was examining a patient in my hospital.

I tried to open my eyes, my eyelids gave way despite its heaviness. The room was empty except for me and the medical devices. Looking around, I saw that I was supine on the bed, connected to an intravenous line. A bottle of 5% dextrose hung from the pole of the i.v stand like a hideous fruit on a leafless tree. The side rails of my bed were pulled up. I had fresh bandages on both knees. The tip of my finger was attached to the sensor of the pulse oximeter. I looked up the machine on my right side and found that my oxygen saturation, pulse and heart rates were within normal limits. A crash cart, covered with a green cloth stood at the right corner. An ECG machine with unconnected leads sat on the shelf behind my head. There was a window covered with curtains at the far end of the room.

I had no difficulty in figuring out where I was. I was in Calicut Medical College.

A nurse, dressed in blue scrubs hurriedly entered the room. She pulled the plastic stool from under my bed and sat down. She had a long pointed face, neatly threaded eyebrows and gentle, brown eyes. She wore steel rimmed spectacles. Her hair was neatly tied into a bun. It looked like she was in her mid-thirties. I could say from her demeanor that she was from South Kerala. She smiled at me, studied my face for a while, and picked up the clipboard and pen which was on the head end of my bed.

“How are you feeling?”, she asked in English, with a pronunciation suggesting an Oxford sojourn some time in her past.

“My head hurts badly”, I said. “Besides, I can speak Malayalam”, I added after a while of silence.

She looked mildly surprised. She continued the conversation in Malayalam, in what I thought was a southern accent.

“What is your name?”

“Netha Hussain”, I replied.
She noted down on the clipboard.


It was clear that she did not know that I was a medical student. Gone are the days when medicos and nurses knew each other very well.

“I am a writer”, I replied. Apart from being a medical student, I was also a writer. In fact, outside of the hospital, I always introduced myself as a writer. I was mildly agitated because she did not recognize me as a medical student. If the nurse did not know that I was a medical student studying in this college, there was no way I was telling her the same.

She noted down something on the clipboard.

“What day is today?”, she asked, after adjusting her spectacles that stooped beyond the bridge of the nose and was in peril of falling down.

“Tuesday”, I said without a doubt. Tuesday was the out-patient day of my medical unit, when we had to examine patients in the Casualty in the afternoon. I might have had an accident during work or on my way back home, and might have got admitted to the ICU of the same Casualty.

“Do you know where you are?”, when she asked, I knew that she was trying to test if I was oriented in place.

“Calicut Medical College”, I replied confidently. She had finished the questions to test my orientation in time and place. The next question would test if I was oriented in person. I smiled inwardly.

She stood up and reached out to a locker which was on top of the shelf where the ECG machine was kept. She turned the key twice, opened the locker, and took a camera out. I immediately recognized that it was an Olympus SZ-16. She swiped through the controls and turned the screen towards me. Written on the top right of the control button was my name.

“Don’t you touch my camera”, I snapped.

“Sorry. But I want you to identify this man”, she said firmly, pointing to the man in the picture.

It was the picture of a man in his twenties, wearing a t-shirt and grinning widely. I looked carefully. Though I found him strangely familiar, I had no idea who he was. I didn’t even know how that picture got into my camera.

“He looks European”, I said. “Probably from eastern Europe”, I added after studying his features.

“So, you do not know him?”

“I guess I don’t”, I replied truthfully.

She then swiped once more and showed the picture of another man. He was taller, and had similar features like the other one. I couldn’t recognize him either.

Then, she showed me a third picture. It took me a second to process what I was seeing. Then, my jaw dropped.


I was standing between the two men whose photographs the nurse had previously shown me. It was evident from the picture that the men knew me very well. Their t-shirts suggested that they were associated with Mozilla/Firefox. Being a Mozilla volunteer for over a year, I tried to recall who they were, but I did not have a clue. I had clearly lost my memory.

I was getting increasingly confused. I told the nurse that I did not know the context of the photograph. She smiled empathetically and asked me to relax.

She looked up the monitor of the pulse oximeter and scribbled something on the clipboard. Then, she went out to call the doctor.

In around ten minutes, the doctor arrived. He was a white, tall man in blue scrubs. He had a long pointed nose, golden hair and thin lips. There was a stethoscope around his neck. What struck me was that he didn’t look Indian at all. I knew that it was possible for foreigners to intern in my hospital, but since when did they start seeing patients in the ICU?

The nurse talked to the doctor in French. She said about me being désorienté and embrouillé.

Disoriented and confused. I knew enough French to make out what she was talking about.

“I am not disoriented”, I shouted at them in English.

The doctor looked at me and gave me a compassionate smile. He sat down on the stool near me and asked me in English if he could examine me. I did not protest.

He took out a pen torch from his pocket and examined my eyes. When he took out another torch, I knew that it was for testing consensual light reflex – so I placed the medial border of my hand on my nose to help him to shield the light. He looked amused at my gesture.

During the course of examination, I cooperated with extreme dexterity. After he examined for wrinkles on my forehead, I took the cue and shut my eyes tightly. Then, I blew my cheek, showed my teeth and grimaced, in that order, without being instructed to do so. I was helping him to test my seventh cranial nerve.

The doctor’s amusement turned to surprise. He asked me if I were a healthcare practitioner. I replied that I was a medical student. He asked many questions during the course of examination, and I knew that he was trying to assess my higher mental functions. He told me that he had to catch up with many patients that day, so he had to be really quick. We ended the examination with me demonstrating dysdodakokinesia and Brudzinski’s sign without waiting for instructions from him.

The doctor told me that except for a few superficial injuries on the arm and one knee, I was normal. It was a case of retrograde amnesia and he said I would recover soon. He told me that I had already started shaping new memories, indicating that it is a good sign. He assured me that he had looked into my CT scan reports, and had found that everything was okay. He left after giving instructions to to the nurse in French. I felt reassured. But I couldn’t yet recall the happenings that led to the hospital admission.  The nurse moved the window screens before she left and I could look outside the room.



The view was stunning. I could see a Gothic-style tower with a square tower body that narrowly pinnacled to an octagonal spire. The metal statue of the archangel Michael was clearly visible through the glass window. Thanks to my high school research on medieval architecture, I knew that I was seeing the 96 metre long tower of the Town Hall. This monument was unique, and has long been the icon of a city and a UNESCO world heritage site. People visiting this city never miss taking pictures of this monument. The tower looked even more stunning in the night light.

I swallowed at the thought of where I was. There is only one place in the world where this monument could be.

Brussels, Belgium. I was over ten thousand kilometres away from Calicut.

I now knew why the doctor spoke French, the native language of most Belgians, and why the nurse described me as disoriented when I recognized the place as Calicut Medical College.

The stark realization made me feel sick. What was I doing here? Did I meet with an accident? How did I end up in Brussels?

I scanned through the pictures on my camera hoping to recall something from my memory. On camera, I saw numerous pictures of people at what seemed like a party. It was evident that I has spent a long time with a bunch of people whose faces I could not recall.


Just then, the nurse opened the door.

“Am I in Brussels?” I asked in Malayalam.

“Good that you started remembering things” she said.

“Ahem, actually, I do not remember anything. I just made an intelligent guess on seeing this tower”, I said, pointing towards the window.

She sat down beside me, and started talking in measured sentences.

“The only thing we know about you was that you met with an accident while you were sightseeing with your friends. Your friends are busy at the hospital administration wing, entering your personal details into the hospital’s database, talking with the police and conversing with the Indian Embassy over phone. Personnel from the Embassy will reach here after 10 am in the morning to talk with you and find out if you need any help”.

“Actually, do you know how I reached Brussels? I only remember examining patients in my college-hospital in India”.

“I have no idea”, she shrugged. “Probably your friends know. They will be allowed to see you in a while. I suggest that you take some rest”.

After checking the i.v lines, she turned to leave. I quickly held her hand, making her look back.

“How, as a Malayali, did you land up here in Brussels?”, my eyes widened with curiosity as I anticipated her reply.

“You might already know that a lot of the nursing workforce worldwide comes from Kerala. I immigrated to Belgium 5 years ago, and I’ve been working here for the last 3 years. I figured you were from Kerala from your passport and I asked the duty doctor to put me in charge of you”, her eyes narrowed as she smiled.

“In fact, my duty gets over by 12 pm in the night, but I stayed on to ensure that you were alright. Now, that you are stable and conscious, I think I can leave”.

I was speechless for a while. I managed to say a ‘Thank you’ at last.

“There is an Indian nurse in the next shift. I have already called her up and asked her to take good care of you”, she smiled as she spoke. “And by the way, my name is Sheila. I have left my visiting card in your case record. If you have any trouble, don’t hesitate to call me”, she added.

I thanked her again. As soon as she was gone, three men and a woman entered the room. All were in colourful Mozilla outfits. I immediately recognized that they were the people I saw in the pictures.

“Good Lord, I hope you are alright”, the woman exclaimed. I later learnt that her name was Ana-Maria Antolović.

I smiled weakly.
“Sorry”, I said. “I can’t remember your faces, though you all look strangely familiar. I think I met with an accident and I can’t remember a thing. Not even travelling  to Brussels”.

“Big story”, the woman said. “You reached Brussels for the Mozilla Summit. We met you on the first day of the conference and became friends. You were returning to the hotel with us after the closing party of the Summit. As we were walking, an unknown driver speeded his car through the sidewalk and knocked you down. Luckily, you were not badly injured. You immediately fell unconscious, and we called an ambulance to bring you here”.

“The doctor told us that you would recover soon and be able to return to your country in good shape”, she smiled as she placed a bowl of fruits on to the eating board attached to my bed.
“Eat well and be strong”, one of the men said playfully.

“Thanks people, too bad that I can’t remember the time I spent with you”.

“You already have hundreds of pictures of us and the Summit in your camera. You will remember everything in no time”, the other man re-assured.

We had a hearty laugh together.

Sincere thanks to : 

* Ana-Maria Antolović, Dejan Strbad, Saša Teković and Stanić Mihovil from Mozilla Hrvatska, Croatia for letting me use their pictures taken during the Mozilla Summit 2013 in Brussels in October 2013.

* Neethu P.M and her elder sister for cross-checking the consistency of medical facts mentioned in this story.

* Jeph Paul for spending several hours in copy-editing and reviewing this post. 

* Neethu Santhosh, Neethu N.T and Sona Sathian for reading the story from a medical student’s perspective and providing me with valuable criticism.

Disclaimer : This story is a work of fiction. However, all characters, monuments, institutions and places mentioned in this story are real. The thread of this story has resemblance to the incidents mentioned in Chapter 1 of Dan Brown‘s novel, Inferno. The author was inspired by the novelist’s fast-paced plots that revolve round an intriguing incident described back-and-forth in time. 

A scene from the biochem lab

How it should’ve gone:

The Medico is provided with a beaker of urine. She is asked to report the abnormal constituents present in it. The Medico is a genius, you know. She knows the whole biochemistry lab manual by heart! She performs all the tests in a flick of the second. She also performs the advanced tests mentioned in the PG manual. She diagnoses the disease as Acute tubular necrosis. None of her lecturers know this diagnosis. So they take The Medico to the HOD. The HOD performs certain tests and confirms it to be Allergic interstitial nephritis. The Medico then points out the fifth paragraph in the 1543rd page of the Text Book of Biochemistry. On reading it, The HOD gets convinced that The Medico’s diagnosis is right. The HOD weeps with joy and hugs The Medico. He confers upon The Medico the gold medal for Clinical Biochemistry.

How it went:

The Medico was scolded for being late to the lab. The Medico was instructed to go to the toilet and collect the urine sample. Yes people. You heard it right. Medicos use their own urine samples for urine analysis. The Medico got only half a test tube of urine (That’s why they say, don’t empty your bladder the day you have biochem labs). So she borrowed one beaker of urine from her neighbor. The Medico performed the tests and reported proteinuria. The lecturer scorned. The Medico repeated the test and reported ketonuria. The lecturer mocked. The Medico repeated the test for the third time and reported hematuria. The lecturer agreed and gave her a C- for the experiment. Then the lab assistant came over and announced that she had, by mistake, given The Medico the wrong sample and the actual diagnosis is proteinuria. If murder wasn’t a crime, The Medico would’ve killed the lab assistant. Armed with this stunning information, The Medico rewrote her lab record. She was the last to leave the lab.

The Medico loves biochem lab hours- because of the floral smell of ammonia, because of the colorimeter and urinometer which never give the accurate values, because of the water bath that never fails to choke her, because of the unconditional love extended by the staff. Yes, The Medico loves biochem labs. Indeed she does.

This post was first published on google buzz.