Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Lifetime's Worth of Education (from a Filipino Thomasian Medical Student)

...because even if you have attained the highest level or position in the medical field, you are always a student of medicine. I wrote this blog on March 10, 2006 in my yahoo 360 account as an attempt to blog about my medical life (which I failed to do). This was written days before I became a 4th year student, a medical clerk, or in the medical lingo, "the lowest life form in the hospital"...

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.

(this blog might be misinterpreted as a blusterful and bombastic blog, I only wanted to share my experiences. yahoo 360 will be closing down this july, sayang naman tong first attempt ko to blog at onga pala mas mahal na ang tuition sa med ngayon.)


viveyonce said...

I admire your perseverance :P ibang klase!

p.s. iskolar ng bayan ka pala, astiig!! para sa bayan! woohoo! (ano daw?? haha!)

screamkeeper said...

oo naman iska... ako ay isang isko. :) marami pa kong dadaanan. :)

Kris Tine said...

I'm thinking of taking medicine too and all those words you said makes me wanna prepare myself for everything that's going to happen in the world of medicine... I honestly admire u for your perseverance. I myself wanna be a doctor someday and yes I truly believe that it is worth the fight to be able to save a lot of people... This year is 2012 and nearly 2013 I assume you are a resident doctor. I do wish you Good luck and May God Ever Bless You. I truly believe that the world is a small world and I'd be happy to meet you in an unexpected event... I'm so happy to have read your blog. It gives me inspiration.
Thank you for sharing this and I believe your going to be real successful through God's will.
God Bless!!
BTW... I'm Kristine :))

Deric said...

hi Kris Tine. sorry for the poor grammar of that blog entry. I should have edited that...4 years ago. I am a resident doctor (otorhinolaryngology - head and neck surgery) now... still in UST. This would be my last year in residency. From that "lost" med student, I turned out to be a resident doctor doing surgery, literally grasping the lives of my patients. made their lives better, prolonging their earthly hours...years. Giving them hope. Pero mahirap talaga... iba yung oras na hihingin sayo. Your family, boyfriend/girlfriend...baka hindi maintindihan yung oras na ilalaan mo sa medicine. But if you'll ask me, is it worth the effort? the time, money etc. Oo naman. Nothing could beat the "high" after surgery. and of course yung response ng pasyente sayo, and their relatives. another problem is the finances. pag dating mo ng 28, 29 30 years old...hingi ka pa rin ng tulong sa magulang mo.

anyway...good luck kristine. balitaan mo ko.

Shane Alyssa Obina said...

I've encountered your blog before many times but i always end up not reading it because you have a dark background which i honestly regret. Anyway, when i read your post it made me cry a little, it seems like i was the one who wrote it because i share the same feelings. Im only a freshman medstudent. I also thik Im expereincing "culture shock" i really dnt knw how to cope up last sem. Im hoping and praying that i'll be able to this coming semester. I love your post. It made me realize im not alone in this battle. This is partly normal I guess. God bless po on your studies/career and Thank you po.

Deric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deric said...

Hi shane. So my blog aint eyes friendly? :) I think I am using a dark green background...the font color is white. I hope it brings enough contrast. i used this blog as an outlet to write about random things. Im not really a writer... nor a professional blogger

Apparently, i finished med school...then clerkship then internship. I passed the physician licensure exam.

I finished my residency at the same institution. Fortunately, I am now a diplomate of my chosen field, otorhinolaryngology - head and neck surgery. I am now practicing and by march next year ill be going to fellowship; sleep medicine and sleep surgery at Taiwan.

Doctors who continue to dwell into residency or fellowship belongs to a different breed of people. It takes intellect, patience, physical endurance, right brand of politics and sometimes luck.

If you like what you are doing...if you set a'll have no problem..enjoy the ride...then reminisce your personal achievements and service you gave to your'll be fine. :)