Behind the Curtains Session 11: Dr Ramzan Assistant Professor Ophthalmology

Behind the CurtainsWith Dr. RamzanBy Haania Khan, Muhammad Salik, Unsa Athar, Muhammad Mohsin Ali & Muhammad Sheharyar

After joining KEMU as a student in 1976, Dr. Ramzan has devoted his whole life to the place he so loves. As Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology Unit I he has gained respect and admiration among the students, and has taught the likes of Professor Zahid Kamal. Sensing his impending retirment, the Kemunited team sought a session to record his thoughts about his alma mater, and what follows is the story of a person who thinks he was "Born in KEMU".

When did you come to K.E?

I came to KE back in February  1976. Hailing from District Jhung, my admission was the first time I visited Lahore and the experience was memorable.

How was your time at K.E?

Very good. We were 5 boys from our class that came together to K.E. We were from a backward area therefore it took us some time to adjust here but after 5-6 months we were at home here and after that we proved our mettle here, in studies and extra-curricular activities as well. So the experience became quite an interesting one and K.E became like a home to us.

How do you think K.E has changed in all this time?

Everything has changed immensely; the landscape, the buildings, the hostels, now everything is more developed and modern. KEMC became KEMU. There is no Gender difference, more and more girls are coming to K.E, everything is more advanced and there has been a lot of progress in these past years. The one thing that I think we had better were “Legendary Teachers” we were taught by some brilliants names in the field of medicine back then ; Faisal Akhtar Khan, Khawaja Sadiq Hussain, N.A. Sail, Raja Mumtaz Quli Khan (Eye), Professor Lone (ENT). They were legends, and I feel proud to have been their student.

How did you choose Ophthalmology as your specialty?

This is a very interesting story. When one is done with MBBS he feels a bit tired. So I thought I’ll find something interesting and  less hectic to do. I did my house job in Ophthalmology and Pediatrics as I liked both but Pediatrics is a more demanding specialty, so I opted for the easier option as the hours were  not long and mortality/morbidity ratios were less , procedures were simple as at that time there was no modern equipment, no microscopes etc. But I soon realized that in any specialty one has to work hard, and passion drives you to work hard.

Ophthalmology is a very rewarding field; there is a rapid reward mechanism. You treat a patient and suddenly a blind person is able to see the world and that feeling of accomplishment for the doctor is very satisfying. You are able to give better lives to children with treatable blindness. Allah gives you the power to change a person’s life for good.

"In any speciality one has to work hard, and passion drives you to work hard."

How did you decide to become a doctor?

I never thought of becoming a doctor actually. I was a very good student from the beginning. I came first in my class and topped the boards in Middle and Matric. I had a very keen interest in Literature and poetry and therefore despite my stellar scores in F.Sc I opted for Arts subjects. I wanted to study literature. But then my Head Master got wind of my selection of Arts and got very angry. He called me to his office, told me that he thought that I was wasting my capabilities and then he himself changed my subjects to Science and thus began my journey towards becoming a Doctor. *laughs*
 He actually guided me in the right direction; I realized that afterwards that helping ailing humankind was the best career option. I set my goal for it, and by the grace of Allah Almighty I became a doctor from the best medical college, was taught by the best teachers, worked with the best people and later on trained the best medical students. So I don’t regret that moment even a little, I cherish it.
“I believe in Believing in your Children”

Didn’t you want Sir Hassan to join Ophthalmology as well?

I wanted him to join Ophthalmology, but as I already said, he’s very obedient and has never said no to me. If I asked him to join Ophthalmology I know he would never have refused me but the truth is, “I believe in Believing in your Children”. You have to trust them to make the right choice for themselves and then you have to support them in what they think is best for them, that’s how you groom them and make them great people. After all being a Kemcolian and doing MBBS isn’t a small feat, you have to give them the credit they deserve and let them chose their path, it’s they who are to live with it the rest of their lives, and that makes it a very important decision which they must take for themselves. I am glad that he went into General Surgery and seeing that he’s passionate about it, as he dropped his Steps for it, makes me feel proud. Infact I, myself, wanted him to stay in Pakistan. I believe that we should give back to this country and its people all that it has given us: it’s our duty as Pakistanis.
*then we told Dr. Ramzan how much we all appreciate Dr. Hassaan, before as the demonstrator of Anatomy and now as the teaching Resident of Surgery but always as a great teacher and a friendly mentor*
Over the years your department has changed. How would you describe that?
Very positive, it has become the largest department and a hub with international recognition. There was a gap in between, but with Dr. Asad Aslam always being there and now Dr. Zahid Kamal, things are looking good.
I think there are shortcomings, there is a shortage of teachers and equipment, and most people are reluctant to come and teach. But I still think it’s one of the best departments since we have all the sub-specialties.
How do you feel about your retirement?
This is a sentimental question *smiles*. It’s just that I feel like I was born over here. So although I am sad over leaving, I am happy because my son is teaching here, and my daughter has become a kemcolian as well. And I am satisfied that I have taught students pretty well, albeit for a shorter period than I would have liked. I consider that an achievement. And there is absolutely no doubt that KEMU students are the best. It’s not self-praise, whenever teachers from other institutes come; they are amazed at the prowess of our students. Our students from MBBS are so good they could clear FCPS part I, but to bring out that level of achievement, you need to guide them well and be gentle and friendly.

"I feel like I was born over here."

What are your plans after retirement?
I’m retired but not tired *chuckles*. I have a lot of interest in medical teaching besides clinical practice, so I think I’ll look for an opportunity to teach rather than operate.

Looking back, you have spent a lot of time in Ophthalmology and KEMU. Do you recall anything that affected you or made an impression on you?
In my era, the Golden Jubilee of KEMU was celebrated. It was an event I still cannot forget. Apart from that, I’ve been present and have witnessed the evolution of my department, which is memorable.

Do you remember any special student who trained under you and is now on a high post?
A lot of them, Prof. Zahid Kamal was a student of mine, and he still treats me with respect. I am very happy that he returned to KEMU, he is a very progressive person. The best part is that our students own us as well, which is always encouraging.       
I’m retired but not tired 
We think that after the dedication we get to see in the wards, ophthalmology is the best field, what is your opinion?
It is the best field without doubt. Everything has its pros and cons. This is the best field for girls as well since the job is easy and fine stitching is involved, which they are adept at. But there are cons, especially when you are setting up a clinic, since the equipment is expensive. For people with a passion to serve, it’s a good field since mostly we treat poor and elderly people who have been abandoned and it’s always a pleasure to provide them happiness.
If you hadn’t been a doctor, what would have been your career choice?
I’d have done CSS. I had an interest in literature as well as teaching so I would have become an English teacher or something like that. But I did fulfill my interest in teaching over here.
What are your pastimes?
I read newspapers, especially English papers. And in the evenings I go to the clinic. It’s a sort of a charity, since I have never been inclined too much towards financial gains. Whatever I wanted I have achieved it. So I try to keep my life fairly less hectic.
What do you think has changed in our system of teaching since your time?
In our time, coming to wards at night was mandatory. All that we learned, we learned through hands-on teaching. Because I lived in hostel it was easy for me to come. I still vividly remember that time and by my final year I had assisted in many procedures including C-sections, appendectomies and had even learned how to apply stitches. This was only due to the fact that we used to spend nights in wards. Nowadays I believe that the concept of evening and night wards has become quite unpopular. Neither the students show up nor are the teachers willing to teach. I learned the most in night wards. 8-10 students used to come every night and work with senior registrars and watch procedures and even wash up. We still teach how to wash up in our unit. We try to teach the students how to scrub, how to sterilize and other practical things.
What is your message for the students?
If you have extra time, you should always spend it with patients. If you just read books and don’t spend any time with the patients, the theoretical knowledge will be of no use.
I believe that we should give back to this country and its people all that it has given us: it’s our duty as Pakistanis.

Check out other interviews from Behind the Curtains Team!
Dr Attiya Mubarak
Dr. Asad Aslam:

Dr. Rafea Tafweez:

Dr. M. Zahid (Prof Pharma):

Dr. Kamran Aziz:

Anwar Kala (Anatomy)


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