Dr. Tonmoy Biswas completed his Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from Faridpur Medical College, University of Dhaka in July 2016. Five and half years of medical college didn’t just made him known as a medical doctor but also as a public speaker, medical researcher and public health activist. While in medical college, he participated in multiple medical research projects and attended several medical conferences within and outside his country. He was awarded with scholarship for an online-offline master degree in public health from an American University. He finished the degree in November last year, while his master thesis got published in a Japanese Journal this year. This week our team tried to explore about his medical education, life and research experiences during and after medical college.
How did you become interested in Medicine?
Well, that’s a pretty tough question. Actually, from my childhood, I wanted to be a scientist, which is yet to be fulfilled. Honestly, my initial choice was Astrophysics, but I was very good at biological sciences at school. After secondary education, I abruptly opted for medical admission test and thereafter I got the chance in one of the ranked medical colleges of Bangladesh. However, accepting the stress, I didn’t find any other hassles in medical studies. I loved to explore basic sciences to clinical sciences, with more passion for Medicine.
Tell us more about your medical research experiences in Bangladesh and abroad.
Here comes my field. I started my medical research journey in 2013, just after finishing the second year, when I attended a medical conference in India. The dazzling field of medical research amazed me right away; persuaded me to adopt a research career passionately. Soon after returning, I involved myself writing a review article on Nipah Virus, which published in an Indian Journal and triggered more inspiration within me. Then, I was trained by some ICDDR, B investigators in basic research methods.
I read relevant books; attended workshops of scientific writing; prepared myself for further research.In consecutive years, taking the role of a principal investigator, I ran several research projects. The projects explored the areas of depression, career planning, blood borne infection, medical ethics, case reports, genetics, and neuroscience etc. But having no lab facilities as a student, I restricted my area nearly within field research and review.
However, I ran an international project on medical career planning co-jointly with the researchers of India, Singapore, China, and Indonesia, which is yet to be published. Meanwhile, I received a scholarship for an online-offline master degree in public health from an American University. I finished the degree in November last year, while my master thesis published in a Japanese Journal this year. So far, till now, I have seven publications in scientific journals, leaving five others under processing.
Notably, I had two research training hosted by National Institute of Health (NIH), USA before graduation. I have attended four medical conferences abroad and five in my country, up to date. In the last conference, my paper on depression turned out to be the top-ten, after passing off 500 international papers. No doubt, nothing would be possible without extreme hard work. That’s the summary answer of the question.
Tell us about your life experiences in medical school.
Well. Life at medical school was definitely hard. A student needs to be regular and patient in medical studies, which I tried soulfully. You need to basically learn 11 major subjects in 5 years of MBBS, that is unquestionably tough. Despite the fact, I tried to schedule my life for other things, which incorporated research passion, organising skill, academic programs, and clubs.
In the meantime, I explored the extracurricular world by engaging myself in multiple organisations. As a result, I learned organising skills, parallel to research, holding 21 different posts (minor-major) in national and international organisations in my medical student life. I’m not overstating. Actually, I planned to learn a set of skills before graduation, which would be essential in professional life. But whatever I did, every time I needed to balance my studies. At the end of the day, I am satisfied with my academic performance and records.
What were your accomplishments while in Medical School?
I mentioned most of my accomplishments in the previous answers. However, getting into a medical school was the hardest part here. Noticeably, around 80,000 science candidates applied throughout the country, amongst them, only first 2000 got into govt. medicals, so did I. In my medical school, I used to have good grades, for which I could get into the ‘A batch’ (graded as per performance) of the class. Above all, my academic records were satisfactory. Besides academics, I published a physiology handbook in the third year, what made me possibly the junior-most medical writer in my country.
Just after the third year, I spoke at an international conference and published my first research paper as the main author. Because of countless activities in the student life, at this stage, my CV, with 9-10 pages, is competitive enough in any prospective submission. When my fourth year ended, I became editor of an American medical student Journal, IJMS, as the first Bangladeshi. Subsequently, I became editor of two other student journals as well.
Including that, in medical school, I peer-reviewed papers for renowned journals like British Medical Journal, PLOS One, and Biomed Central etc. All those experience helped me through the way of scholarship from USA, as I noted earlier. Interestingly, everything I did was a result of passion and dedication, with aspirations to work hard habitually, so that my life becomes flawless. Months after the graduation, I focused on English language skills and achieved Band 8.0 (out of 9.0) in IELTS.
What is your advice to newcomers considering a career in Medicine?
For newcomers, firstly, I would advise them for time management. Remember, time management is a skill, which always tends to slip away from hands. When you can efficiently apply time-slots for everything, victory must happen. Secondly, don’t try to be better than others, try to be better than yourself. Your tomorrow-version should be better than today-version. Thirdly, don’t try to memorize, try to understand. Dive into the inner core of a topic. If you understand, you will be able to rephrase it in your way, not in the book’s way. Then, you can recall it forever. Remember, repetition is the secret of learning. Fourthly, never loose your patience, in all situations, whatever happens. Similarly, make hard work a habit, don’t boast off after it but accept it as normal.
Finally, if you need to reach the 10th floor, make up a strategic plan for the 20th floor so that you reach 10th floor despite the system loss. Nevertheless, if you have the plan for higher study abroad, prepare yourself from the third year, rather than waiting till the graduation. Because abroad institutions demand publication experience, which is a materialistic process of several years.
How is the education system and course division for studying Medicine in Bangladesh?
In Bangladesh, the medical graduation degree is MBBS, which has a span of five years, followed by a year of internship. The five-year course has four professional exams, previously had three, where candidates need to pass eleven subjects in total. Exam system includes item, card, term and Prof.
After MBBS, many postgraduate Medicine degrees are available, where MD is considered world class. The competitive MD entrance exam is challenging to pass, no matter which branch or area it is. Additionally, FCPS, MS, MCPS, MPhil, MPH, PhD and Diploma degrees are popular in Bangladesh.
What are your interests apart from Medicine?
Oh, that’s an interesting question. Sincerely, apart from medicine, I am keen in academic reading, and roaming through scientific articles. But in my free time, I watch movies and try to learn new skills, such as English language, communication, public speaking, and psychology. Moreover, I love to hang out with friends, listen to music and browse the internet.
What are your further plans?
I have aspirations to study abroad, probably PhD if it’s possible. I would apply for Europian Universities soon. Further, I am interested in MRCP, not sure whether it will work out or not. After all, I dream for the best and pray for the blessings of my well-wishers to survive in the future.
Thanks for your patience. And definitely, I thank Dr Kafle, Editor in Chief of Update Medicine
, for the privilege of an interview.