Dr Mohan was appearing for his Board examination. He had failed in previous attempt and though he had cleared the University Examination he was under obvious tension. He seemed to know his subject well, yet was hesitant in answering the questions. We tried to make him comfortable by being very persuasive, polite and gentle. During the course of the examination, if he went astray, one of us would lead him back on the right track. Inspite of this, his tension seemed to mount. Considering all the factors, we found that he was doing reasonably well. He was good in his long case and reasonable in his two short cases. He did make a few mistakes in the pathology section but his performance was satisfactory. His session in radiology was not bad. At the end of his viva voce, we all felt that he deserved to pass. We were only interested in finding out how much he knew and whether it was safe enough to let him loose in the society with a post-graduate degree. We felt we could certainly clear him this time and give him the certificate of National Board in Neurosurgery. He was the only candidate whom we passed, the remaining three being not good enough to be declared successful.

Usually we talk to the candidates at the end of the examination, congratulate them and try to find out what they intend to do in future and give them advice regarding practice of Neurosurgery in particular and medicine in general. To the unsuccessful candidates we point out mistakes and drawbacks so that over the next six months, they improve their performance. This time we had received instructions from the office of the National Board of Examination that we should not reveal the results of the examination unofficially. The candidates, however, unaware of this departure from the usual practice of letting them their results immediately after the viva voce. Dr. Mohan being the candidate, we called him and started to talk to him in a roundabout manner. We could not tell him that he had passed. We asked him what thought about his performance, whether he deserved to pass and what intended to do next. We told him that he should acquire more experience and expertise as that would make him a better clinician and neurosurgeon especially when he would venture to practice in his hospital. As there was going to be a conference a month later in his city, we told him that we would see him again.

Dr Mohan was still very tense. We had not told him he had passed. That we would see him again was an indication for him that he had failed. He immediately got up from his chair and exclaimed: "No, sir, you will not see me again! I will not appear again, never again!". It was hilarious but we just could not reveal to him that he had passed!

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar