Ever since I entered medical school, my whole life turned up side down. It was like I’m adrift into the whirling pool of uncertainties. I counted every moment, every second, living it day by day. They said it would only take a short time to finish medicine, the hell with it (4 years of pre-med, 4 years of med proper, 1 year of internship, 3-5 years of residency and 1-2 years of fellowship). Partially it was true, toxicities make time fly in lightspeed. I am a 3rd year medical student at UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and an incoming clerk (duty starts at april 15). Whenever I reminisced the past 3 years, whew, yep it was like yesterday… but if you are living it, you’ll feel the scorches of the sacrifices you have to make. Is it really that hard? Yes. Maybe. Relatively. It really depends on your attitude…ego…defense mechanisms. Wanna straight answer? Its effin... hard.
When I was in elementary, specifically fourth grade, I was the top 1 and I belonged to the star section though I downgraded as the 3rd honor in our recognition day. In grade 5, I graduated top 4. Then at grade six, I was nowhere to be found in the top ten. In high school, one of the most unforgettable moments of my life, star sections were obliterated. It was applied only at the 4th year level. From 1st year to 3rd year, if I’m not rank 1, I am in the second place. Then come 4th year, not surprisingly, I was in the star section, IV-year KAPAYAPAAN. I graduated with no honors though I was included in the top 20 graduating students. I also got 2 medals, 1 for loyalty (I saw my school's progress from the red-stoned, weedy grounds to a concrete overgrowth of buildings) and the other for being the best member of math club (I was the president of the said club. Thanks to my friends for voting me. My moderator awarded that to me, well if my memory serves me right, I organized a math book drive donation for our school's adapted community). I was not bothered nor even tainted with resentment that I did not receive any academic awards. I was satisfied with my extra curricular exposure and besides I was going to UP for college.
Take this, the tuition fee of UP per semester was 5000 pesos back in 1999, though it can be much lower than that. It depends on your family's financial status. And if one of your parents is an employee of UP, you only pay 65 pesos per semester. Yes, sixty-five pesos. My first two years in college, I was ok. When I was in 3rd year and 4th year, I’ve always been a college scholar (GPA less than 2 .0). I graduated as an honor roll (GPA less than 2.0). Now here comes medicine, I have told myself that I would use the wrath of being called an “ ISKOLAR NG BAYAN” to overwhelm those who stand in my way in med school. I was wrong.
I remember one of the first lectures in physiology, nerve conduction. “Well that’s just basic, my teacher in animal physiology back in UP taught us all we have to know”. I sat in the middle of the row near the white projection board of that 400-seat capacity air-conditioned lecture hall. The professor, a doctor, started to open his mouth. Just like an F1 racing car, which can accelerate to 100 km/hr in 6 seconds (please correct me if I’m wrong), the doctor barged information that I can’t scribble into my notes.*Information overload* He finished the lecture. I was panting, sweat was coming out my scalp, my bewildered hair was pointing to the ceiling, waiting for lightning. I was electrocuted. Then I whispered, “effin... medicine”.
Medicine was a different story. You have to read a bulk of chapters in a short time, they expect you to memorize (sometimes I do that without even understanding) a lot of things that would easily drown you. In weekdays, you don’t get enough sleep. A popular medical quote tells us, medical students, it is better not to sleep, and study, if this will help you to save a patient in the future. And since you have to read a lot of pages, you don’t get to reread them.
In college, I followed a rule; memory is a manner of repetition. I always read my notes back then three times. I memorized the sequences, examined the smallest details of my college notes and books, that was why I have no problem answering essays, may it be cell biology, social sciences, animal physiology, embryology, comparative anatomy and other biology subjects.
But now, it is so much different. You've studied the whole night for an exam, but you just barely pass the exam. Lengthy 2-4 hour lectures, small group discussions, case conferences and ward work toxifies your brain. Doctors shouting at you, always striving to make you the weakest link in bedside rounds. This is the 100,000 pesos worth of tuition fee per year. And it bugs me that my batchmates from high school and college are now working, beginning to be a financially independent individual. I am still here, still studying, training to be a doctor, “the most honorable profession in the world”.
And now, I think I lost the drive to study medicine, haha!!! My grades are not that great but I did not flank any medical subject. A month from now, I’m gonna be in the wards, the real start of my medical life, clerkship. Anyway this is my first blog, I hope to write some more, before I immersed myself into the sea of medical responsibilities.