GANGTOK, 29 Nov: 25-year-old Dr. Bishal Sharma completed his MBBS course from the reputed JIPMER College in Pondicherry in January 2012. While most would have been satisfied with an MBBS degree from the nation’s third ranked medical college, he set his sights higher. And how he has excelled! He was among the 1.5 lakh or so doctors who took the AIIMS Post Graduate Examination on 18 November 2012. The results were declared today. This son of a farmer father and Primary School teacher mother finds himself in the elite clique of the nation’s top-10 – Dr. Bishal Sharma, Roll No 1312548, is ranked Seventh in the all-India entrance exam, considered by most to be the toughest entrance in the country! His achievement is definitely a first for Sikkim, and probably a first for the entire region, including the North East.
Born to Hem Prasad Sharma and Kaushila Sharma [who teaches at Nandugaon Secondary School] at Nandugaon, South Sikkim, Dr. Sharma has set a new benchmark for students from Sikkim. His is a story of perseverance and passion. Definitely not from what can be called a privileged background [in purely economic terms], he received his primary education at Tendong Educational Institute in Namchi and then joined JNV, Rohtak, West Sikkim. He completed class XII in the year 2006 and aced the Common Entrance Test of the State the same year. And when one says aced, it’s literal, for Dr. Sharma not only topped the merit list for medicine, but also came third in the engineering option.
He chose Medicine, because as he told NOW! over the phone tonight, his “dream” was to become a doctor.
He enrolled into JIPMER that year, and the “world opened up”.
Dr. Sharma oozes humility even over the phone, and in a free-flowing conversation, when asked whom he would like to credit for his continuing success, named his parents first. And this was not just because it was the expected thing to do, but because, as he points out, “It is not easy to put someone trough six years of medical college.”
“Graduate courses are over in three years and a person ready for the job market, while in medicine, we are still studying when some of our juniors have completed graduation. My parents deserve special mention because they supported me financially, emotionally and socially through my education, and unconditionally at that,” he said, while reiterating that the financial burden on them was substantial. “It is difficult,” he says.
His parents are undoubtedly special, because even as one son prepares for a PG course at AIIMS, another son about to finish an engineering course while the third child, a daughter is starting college to become an engineer. Dr. Sharma is the eldest of three siblings.
He also makes special mention of his teachers at JNV Rohtak for having given him a sound foundation and all his friends for the support they have extended.
He became a doctor on 19 January 2012, and took his first PG exam the next month. This was for JIPMER itself, but because he ranked around 40 in this all-India exam, he did not take the course offered to him because his passion [for specialisation] lay elsewhere.
“The next entrance exam was for AIIMS in November, so I started preparing for it,” he shares.
But wasn’t that a risky proposition; he was after all leaving the proverbial bird in hand for the one in the bush?
It could not have been an easy decision to make, but his parents obviously backed him, and by then he had also acquired more confidence.
He admits: “When I first joined JIPMER, I was, like I am sure many from Sikkim are, intimidated. Coming from a State quota, rubbing shoulders with among the best minds in the field can give one a complex. The competitive environment is new for us. But I decided to soak in everything – see and learn, and the more I overcame the ‘small place hesitation’ the more I realised that academically there was not much separating those from larger states and bigger cities from us from Sikkim. The only aspect in which the score over us is that they have the benefit of exposure which we sorely lack in Sikkim.”
Once that complex was overcome, Dr. Sharma says, he started benefitting from the experience and counsel of his seniors in college and the teachers there. No ambition was beyond reach then and once he set his sights on the AIIMS PG entrance exam, he committed fully.
After a brief visit home after he picked up his MBBS degree in January, he shifted to Trisur in Kerala. The alumni and professors at Trisur Medical College run a non-commercial guidance centre for Medical PG candidates there. “It’s good and affordable,” he says.
He went for classes once a week when he would confer with the minds there and studied hard.
When the results were declared today, he was ranked an all-India Seventh!
As for the specialisation, the passion which had convinced him to pass the JIPMER option in February, and is now for the taking for him – its paediatrics. He wants to become a Paediatrician because, one, he always wanted to, second, the country and Sikkim need more of them, and third [with a wink, albeit over telephone], it has good future prospects.
Dr. Bishal Sharma will report for a counselling session at AIIMS on 12 December and is looking forward to it now. But already, with his staggering feat, he has reflected pride on all of Sikkim by ranking Seventh in the AIIMS PG Entrance Examination.
Thank you, and Congrats!