med school, musings

Of tests and reasons

At immensely stressful times — compared to my undergrad years, the stress of which, I realize, is a big joke by now — I feel the need to continually ask and remind myself of the reason I am here. 

When I was still an aspiring med student, I told myself I was afraid of becoming a student who studied only to pass exams. Because, really, what’s the point? What happens after passing all written, oral, and practical tests? Although passing exams is a prerequisite to proceed to the next level, it would be absurd to have it as the only motivation for intentionally spending my time — that could have been spent on binge-watching TV series and joining festivities — and squeezing all my mental energy to learning biochemistry, physiology, histology, anatomy, etc. At the end of the day, I find it essential to ask, “What is the reason I do the things I do?”

Then I remember my college freshman self. I recall how I loved learning general biology although it was a “minor” subject in development communication. I woke up at the wee hours to learn the general concept of respiration, the parts of major organs, and the like. I was amused at how, in every human being, such complex, intricate systems are at work synchronously that enable them to function in daily life. There is more to a person than what meets the eye. Literally.

I remember how, while we’re waiting in the SC grounds for our 7:30 p.m. Math01 class, Phoebe and I talked of how we envision ourselves after graduation. She told me I would become a good doctor, probably because both my parents are, but such casual lines are sources of encouragment today. 

I remember when, after performing poorly at a weekly exam, I was eating ice cream at a convenience store and I met one of my favorite teachers, Ma’am Trel. She saw me in my uniform for the first time. Needless to say, my feelings were the polar opposite of her reaction: giddy and excited. She told me my uniform was a symbol of where I will end up. And that I must claim it to be true. 

I remember how becoming a doctor was my default reply to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” although the answer has shifted one too many times. I remember heaps of post I wrote on this blog, the recurring theme of which is being certain and why-driven of solidifying this plan. 

I’ve been asked whether I would continue studying medicine. Without hesitation, I say yes. In my standards, my grades are abysmal but quitting at the slighest hint of setback means I may like only the idea of being a doctor yet deny the realities it entails to become one. As Uncle Earl said in an email:

It’s true: my resiliency and determination have been tested like never before and I know I’m only in the start line. At times, my sentimental self is triggered and I find myself crying in my study table. But I realize crying would be counterproductive because it gives me a headache that makes concentrating a Herculean task. 

As an attempt to see things from a bigger perspective, the stress as a 1st year student will most likely be minuscule when I become an intern facing less of books and more of patients of different backgrounds; when I review for board exams; when I become a licensed doctor to whom patients entrust their lives.

I remind myself that the meticulousness and complexities of the topics that await to be learned are not here only to let me pass exams — these are the basic knowledge I need to be a competent, conscientious doctor people need. 

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