From Nagaland to Kerala, this doctor is an inspiration to all
KOHIMA — As a young boy when Visazo Kikhi enrolled in Sainik School, Imphal, with an eye to join the Indian Army, little did he realise that he would end up in distant Kerala state to pursue medicine.
In a telephonic conversation with Eastern Mirror, the 29-year-old surgeon shared his arduous yet fulfilling journey to becoming a doctor.
Rewind to 2008, Kikhi met with an accident while trying to board a moving train near Guwahati. He fell down and crushed his left leg, compelling him to amputate the leg. He now wears a prosthetic leg.
While receiving treatment at the Naga Hospital Authority Kohima for almost four months, he got inspiration from the doctors and realised his calling in the medical profession.
“I was in Sainik School, Imphal, thinking to enter in the army but it was a different calling for me,” he said.
Kikhi, who is close to his grandparents, recounted their visits to the hospital, their prayers and their talking about finding purpose in life. “So, I thought this (to become a doctor) was a calling from God,” he shared.
After passing Class 10, he enrolled in Kohima Science College, Jotsoma, for intermediate studies to prepare himself for the medical profession.
He cleared the All India Pre-Medical Test with good marks and qualified to study MBBS.
“For further studies (MBBS), the first thing in my mind was to go out of the North-East,” he said, as he wanted to see what others are doing outside the NE region.
While researching institutes, he said he was influenced by his Keralite neighbours in Kohima, and also his subject options were available in medical institutes in Kerala.
In 2013, he joined Government Medical College, Kozhikode (Calicut), and did not look back since then.
Upon completion of MBBS in 2019, he went on to do Master of Surgery at the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, which he completed two months back.
He appeared for the UPSC Combined Medical Services Examination, which he cleared. Kikhi will now be going to his first place of posting in Gujarat as a railway surgeon, by October end.
He hopes to get a transfer and come closer to home and in the North Eastern region after six months.
“If you compare the mainland and NE, it’s very different. Our health system is very weak and me being just starting out, it’s very important for me to get experience from outside. I thought I’ll take this UPSC railway service and gain experience and after two-three years I’ll come and settle down in Nagaland,” he shared.
Confiding that home is always at the back of his mind, he however felt the need for more experiences in this field. So, he pursued medicine in Kerala for 10 years and is now hopeful he will be able to help the Naga people more.
“I will always come back (home) of course, Naga is always in my heart,” the young doctor said.
In Kerala, when he was doing his practical as part of the study of the state government medical colleges, he had to converse with the patients in their native language.
As a non-native speaker, it became a necessity for him to learn their language in order to talk to the patients and know their ailments. He challenged himself to learn Malayalam in one year, something which was not a part of the curriculum.
He bought Malayalam books, a Malayalam to English dictionary and notepad, in which he used to note down medical terms and what the native speakers were saying. He would go through the notes every day and every night.
Whenever practical exams arrived, his friends studied and revised the theories. But he would take the notepad and Malayalam dictionary, stand in front of the mirror and talk to himself in Malayalam.
“I was trying to learn it myself and that’s how I learned Malayalam,” he said, adding that his friends also helped him catch up with the language. Kikhi, who is now fluent in Malayalam, said the language naturally came to him and he comfortably conversed with patients by the final year.
He was of the view that Nagaland needs to improve a lot in the medical sector and that quality healthcare should be made accessible to all including those from BPL families or villages, at a minimal rate.
“But we are so far behind and we have to catch up a lot. Especially, the insurance scheme is not very well implemented in Nagaland. Out here, as soon as you get inside the hospital, your (health) insurance gets activated and you can buy any medications and do tests with a (health) card,” he said.
Back then, when he started his MBBS, people used to ask him why he did not choose his own state to pursue medicine and, in the end, he had to reply that Nagaland does not have a medical college.
He expressed happiness over establishment of the first state medical college, which started its first academic session in September this year. He believes that the new college is going to help the people a lot in delivering quality healthcare. “It’s late but it’s better late than never,” he added.
To those who are contemplating pursuing medicine, he advised them to be full-hearted, discuss with family members and also those in the medical profession before making up their minds.
It’s very hard to come out once enrolled because they’ll be studying for almost six-seven years. “It takes a toll on you mentally, physically and impacts family life,” Kikhi said.
But once a person develops interest in it (medical profession), they will love it and experience the joy of treating those in need, he shared.