Friday, 29 March 2013

"What have I gotten myself into?": The Realization of the Medical Clerk

I would like to begin this post by saying, yes, I have skipped out on updating my "2013 Weekly" posts as it has been such a trying time this past month, what with the examinations we had, all the reports we have to pass, and all the research papers we have to finish. So, it is understandable that I would rather divert all my attention, and what little strength I have left in the tank for those requirements in order for me to reach my short term goal, that is, being a medical clerk this April 1, 2013, and that will in turn lead me to my next goal, becoming a graduate and intern, and finally my ultimate goal, being a full fledged licensed physician (hopefully in the Department of Surgery). But later on, before clerkship, I will resume my weekly posts, starting with a long entry that will compensate for the past weeks.

Anyways, after all has been said and done, all the head-scratching examinations been dealt with, all reports been passed and laughed at, etc, the Promotion Boards was held last March 12, 2013, to discuss who among 52 3rd year medical students are worthy to become 4th year medical clerks. It was nerve wrecking (so much so as our previous OSCE... more on that next time) to say the very least, and when they finally decided who were to be promoted, as with previous years, no words were said by the doctors within the Promotion Boards were uttered to us... only a piece of bond paper... with the names who are deemed worthy. And it looked like this:

YES!! I made it!! (encircled... duh)

Thank God I was able to make it... I was worried as it was a difficult year. I may not say that it was more difficult than the 2nd year, but 3rd year subjects gave us little to no time to do anything that they require us to do. Plus, there is OB-GYNE that nearly completely make me fear the race of women. Well, the difficulty of OB-GYNE stemmed from the fact that we never had any prior experience with the subject; unlike surgery, we had anatomy to help us out; pharmacology had biochemistry as its foundation; pathology had its roots from physiology; and the like. But none for OB-GYNE.

The day after the announcement, my mom coerced me to make my new uniform for clerkship and the immediate weekend, we bought my shoes, my watch, and other necessities. Call me excited? I am. But not as much as my mom or my sis (who is already a doctor). They wanted to get my gear immediately to prepare for clerkship. Guess they are proud or know well enough how bad it is to rush things.

With all the happiness also came sadness; as mentioned above, we were 52 students. The first Promotion Boards only allowed 37 students go to clerkship, leaving out the remaining 15 to take further examinations, termed removal examinations. Think of these exams as a lifeline of sorts.

Some of us that already were promoted decided to lend a hand in their review as we really have no intentions on leaving a man or woman behind. We want to graduate together. We have much too close to eachother to simply turn a whim and celebrate on our own achievement. We can't.

The second promotions happened last March 18, 2013, and 11 of the 15 students taking removals were granted the chance to become clerks. Now we have 4 casualties so to speak. But they may still be allowed to become clerks... on March 22, 2013, we will finally find for sure, the final number of students who wiull become medical clerks.

For the rest that were already granted clerk status, we had a tour (not like we need it anymore) to the hospitals we will be working in: AUFMC and JBLMRH. This will be our home away from home for the next year.

After our tour around AUFMC, Dr. Michael Dizon, who is in charge of the interns and clerks and my sister's classmate during medical school, said it is a good idea to have a photo together. And so we clerks did:


There I am, second from the left, bottom-most row...

Everyone is all smiles, and I am no different. But as the orientations and the tours of the hospitals continued on, I can't help but say this to my Dean and Secretary Dean, "What have I gotten myself into?".

This is the moment that I have been waiting for since I first burst through the doors of our lecture room at first year medical school. Now that its here, I am scared. I fear that I don't know anything from my past 3 years of studies. I fear that this language barrier will cause my life to be a living hell. I fear that this short stature and weak physique will not only be the subject of every bad joke within the hospital, but also not suited for what tasks will be bestowed on me.

In spite of all the reassurance from my sister and Dr. Dizon that my language barrier, for which I deemed as my greatest hindrance for now, will definitely cause some ripples in the water for awhile, I will have a hard time eliciting the proper history or physical examination, however, they told to look to their classmates, Dr. Bill and Dr. Ben, who also had a difficult time speaking the native language here but survived. And there is also my sister, who just learned the language during clerkship. So, I have a chance to survive clerkship in terms of my language barrier.

As frail as this body could ever get, I will persevere with my fighting spirit. I will push my own limits if I have to. This means so much to me that I will not let my body bog me down. Vitamins, balanced diet... that's what I'll need. Exercise? I will be walking everywhere, occasionally running, so I will have my exercise that way.

Emotional rollercoasters and spiritual challenges await me as well. I will be shouted at some time during clerkship, I may talk back at my groupmates, I may even question my faith at times. These may make or break a student... I hope to be steadfast enough for me to be able to take in the verbal blows they'd throw at me.

But still, as scary as it all seems, it is something that one must go through to be a doctor, and instead of fearing it, I should just look at it as a fun short time before being a real doctor.

I will strive in to make it worthwhile, staying with my classmates as we will inevitably choose different institutions to work in the future, learn a lot from this short time, make new friends/allies... all the good things.

So, for my silly question "What have I gotten myself into?"; well, I got myself into one of the most noble, most worthwhile career paths on Earth. It won't be easy... But as Dr. Santos once told me "The most beautiful things are always the most difficult".