How to be certain that medschool is for you

Envision yourself ten years from now. Will you be okay with not becoming a medical doctor? Can you see a career path that resonates more with your soul?

Career paths are tricky. When we are young, it feels like we are being pulled from a million different directions. There’s the expectation of your parents, the unsolicited advice from the extended family, and sometimes we forget the very subtle whisper. What do I mean by the whisper? I heard this ever since I was young. It is that voice that makes you want to do something that to others may not make sense but to you, it intuitively does. I can’t even find words to articulate this whisper, but I guess it’s a result of being in tune with one’s soul.

That is so far, the best description that I could construct about my reason as to why I chose medicine, and why I’ll keep choosing it even if it can be excruciatingly hard. One major purpose behind this blog is, as a kid, I needed a person who could have guided and told me about the medical world. In my brain, I knew that it was hard, but what I didn’t know was the depth of sacrifices and the waves of uncertainties that comes along with learning how to save someone’s life. So please allow me to be your guru for a few minutes, if you’re contemplating about becoming a medical student. Here are questions that you must take time to ponder on.

1. Do you love learning?
You’ll be reading tons of books. Your college books are nothing compared to medical books. You must have a genuine love and thirst for learning if you want to become a doctor. Education isn’t even over when you graduate medschool my dear. You will still learn new information since science and medicine are rapidly evolving disciplines. If you are the type of person who devours learning, then you’ll have the stamina to digest extremely technical scientific information. Being a bookworm and science nerd is a good indicator that you will last in this game.

2. Do you love helping people?

Helping is the nature of the job. Your goal is to ease people from sufferring. If you are on the more selfish spectrum, this career might not become fulfilling for you. If your motivation is money, don’t go to medschool, there are tons of easier ways to do that. Remember that you will be handling patients from all walks of life and your sworn duty is to help them inspite of whoever they are, so you should have a sense of altruism. It doesn’t matter if your patient is a philantrophist or a criminal. If a human needs medical attention, you must help. It must be innate in your heart so that treating patients will be in line with your personality. Plus, patients will feel it if you are genuine.

3. Are you willing to compromise?

You will see your friends moving forward in their careers and travelling but you will be stuck with your books for the next five years of your life. Time with family, friends, and your partner will be significantly reduced. If deep within your heart, you have this knowing that the sacrifices will be all worth it, then that’s great. It means that you can withstand the long years of studying. But let me tell you in advance that, there are many birthdays that you can’t come to, weddings or anniversaries that you can’t attend, and concerts that you won’t be able to watch. Financial freedom will be put on the side. Date nights will get cancelled. Know what you are getting yourself into.

4. Are you willing to fail?

Getting in medical school is a caveat by itself. You will get accepted because you’re a diamond in the rough. The admission committee saw that you can survive and thrive even in adverse situations. They know that you are smart and resilient enough for this path. However, you cannot be a jack of all trades. Unless you’re one of the select few geniuses who won the IQ genetic lottery, you will most probably fail exams. Plus, life’s challenges won’t stop just because you’re a medical student. Your parents might get sick, sometimes there will be death in the family, your mental and physical health might plummet, or financial meltdowns might occur. You have to remember in these moments that, no matter how many times you stumble, you will definitely rise. If you are okay with setbacks and failures, and if you have a fast move-on rate, then this path could really be for you.


5. Can you imagine doing anything else?

Envision yourself ten years from now. Will you be okay with not becoming a medical doctor? Can you see a career path that resonates more with your soul? If you can, then try that first. I did that because I wasn’t that sure when I was younger. However, I was faced with a fork in the road. I couldn’t unhear the whisper. I can’t imagine living a life of what-ifs ten years from when I was 23. If you can’t think of a reason as to why you must not study medicine, well, at least give it a try then. Go for it, if you can’t imagine doing anything else. And if you end up not liking this path, well at least you gave it a shot. You chose to be brave and that’s something to be proud of.

Again, I would love to hear your thoughts on this whether you’re a premed, med student, or a practicing medical doctor. Let us help each other out so that there will be more doctors who are in it because they consciously chose this path.

Guide to getting unstuck

Hi reader, so far in the Philippines I do believe that we are stuck in a shit pickle, and a really deep one for that matter. You know that I am not a fan of toxic positivity. I am more of a girl who likes to know the real score and deal with it to the best of my abilities. Just like you, everyday I still wonder when is this ever going to end? When are we going to stroll on parks, beaches, or schools without the fear of getting COVID-19?

If you have been following my posts for the past years, I have an idea that you are someone who’s chasing your dreams too. And for us who find satisfaction in slaying goals and reaching for the stars, being this limited is the worst situation that we could find ourselves in. We like movement, we love the momentum, and the chase. We find an adrenaline rush in getting closer to our goals. But then here we are, stuck, literally and figuratively.

Let me try to make sense of it all through my favorite form of expression, writing. I think this is the opportunity to be our most creative and unlimited self. What we have now is the best resource out there, TIME. Here are my tried and tested list of things that you can do when you’re in a hell of a negative situation. Feel free to add up yours in the comments section.

1. Be realistic and be informed.
We need to educate ourselves. We need true information in order to move forward. Education has brought me to places that has created such an adventure in my life. I like to know the reality. I appreciate brutal honesty rather than sugar coating things. I might not like what someone is going to say but, it’s okay as long as it’s the truth. You can only assess objectively if you are well informed.

2. Acceptance of the present.
I think the secret in life is knowing when to let go of the steering wheel and when to take control. There are things that you can do to make sure that your plans will fall into place. And I very much believe that you have to take control of your physical, mental, financial, professional, and emotional well-being. You cannot let anything or anyone take your power. But, you have to accept that no matter how perfectly crafted your plans are and how you flawlessly executed your moves, there will be times when shit will just hit the fan. When that happens, as much as it sucks, you have to recognize that this is the reality, and accept. Because if you keep on ruminating for a long time, you might miss the growth opportunities that the current situation presents.

3. Acknowledge your feelings.
As I’ve mentioned, you have to accept the present. I know what probably runs in your mind, that it’s easily said than done. Please understand that you must accept the present but you also have to acknowledge your feelings. Give yourself time to grieve the situation. Fully express your sadness, anger, or disappointment through calling a friend or by talking to your family or your partner. You can express your rage through art or writing. You can run or shout on top of a hill. But you have to feel and express your emotions. Don’t bottle it up or it will be your life’s poison. Feelings are meant to be expressed and not repressed. Okay?

4. Do something that brings you joy.
Once you have let all the feels bleed out, you now have space for joy. Think about the activities that make your heart feel a little bit lighter. For me, it’s writing or listening to Cardi B. I also love singing, dancing and coloring. Keep a running list of things that make your heart sing. Open your heart to joy. Tuck it in and keep it close. Have a list of these sanity pills and take them. They will heal you and open your mind to creative solutions to your challenges.

5. Access your body’s intelligence.
You know what causes too much thinking and mental exhaustion? It’s when you’re not channeling mental energy through your body. Do some workout, my friend. Stop being a couch potato. The poison loves it when you don’t move. Your blood and energy has to flow. Let it reach every corner of your organs. I do nike training club during not so busy days in the morning and when I am really stuck in the deepest puddle of shit, yoga is my saving grace. It fixes your breathing and keeps you present.

6. Sleep.
Recovery is an important part of the healing process. Give your brain the rest that it needs. Let your subconscious handle the complexities of the situation. Some of the best ideas and solutions pop up early in the morning. It’s because your brain is well rested and fully oxygenated. Remember that you can only be truly empowered if your machine is well-oiled. So love yourself and let your thoughts rest. Let it go.

7. Have a morning routine.
By sticking to a morning practice, you will have a foundation that you can always go back to. No matter how crappy the previous day has been, your morning routine will serve as your refresh button. I do encourage you to make it a habit. Whether it’s drinking coffee in the morning, declaring affirmations, or prayer, just do it. Make your mind a healthy garden for trees of positivity and creativity to grow.

8. Be decisive.
Stop thinking. Just engage and co-create the life that you want with the universe. Stop spending so much time in your mind because it’s so easy to drown in the negativity sinkhole. As Nike says, just do it.

9.Practice self-forgiveness.
I do believe that you should talk to yourself the way that you will talk to your little sister or your daughter. We are humans who are just imperfect. We make mistakes and do stupid things. Be that as it may, it is our job to be kind and forgiving to ourselves especially when we fall short of being the person we expect ourselves to be. When negative thoughts swarm in my head, my tendency is to be really hard on myself, and I admit that I am still a work in progress when it comes to this area of life. But I know that I have to try practicing radical self-love and self-forgiveness so that I can be truly free.

10. Be patient.
Great things take time. Sometimes we’re too anxious to get to the finish line, so much so that we don’t even notice how beautiful the journey is. Life is full of ups and downs and sometimes it’s easier to say I give up. But if you can find the beauty in crashing and then rising, I think you’re good to go. Be willing to wait and be patient with your process. Everybody has their unique path. You just have to focus on yours because no one can ever do the great job of being you. Respect how sacred your journey is. Love it wih every fiber of your being. Ready, set, go.

Permission to be


I have been ambitious for as long as I can remember. Heck, I wanted to be the Mayor of our town when I was like three. I even remembered saying that I want to be the President of the Philippines in gradeschool. I wanted to soar as high as I can and be the best in what I do. That is how full blown ambitious I was.

But of course that was just the little girl in me talking. I just want to emphasize how being ambitious was ingrained in my DNA. I have been its epitome way before I understood what that word means. I just laugh when I remember all those things I’ve said. And then I grew up.

I started to get scared of the world. I began watching the news and became anxious to death about almost everything. I became afraid even in walking alone, being embarassed, and making a mistake. I became fearful even of the good things ever since I got exposed to the dark side. The fire died. It was like someone poured a huge bucket of water to the blazing fire in my heart. Sometimes it still flickered, but most of the time it died.

Thankfully, this world has angels. They gave me the space, the extra nudge, to be who I was meant to be. They pushed and inspired me to be the game changer that I truly believe I am. Now, I can say that it’s back, and although I’m not as fierce as I used to, I am now more stable and calm. The fire knows when to burn so high, when to slow down, and most importantly how to get the fire back up.

Let me just dedicate this blog post to the people who gave me the permission to be unapologetically myself, to grow, heal, survive, and thrive.

1. My second grade teacher: You are smart.

Thank you ma’am, for opening the door to learning. You are beyond amazing. Because of you, I discovered and believed that I am smart. You opened me to the world of short stories, cultural music, public speaking, and dance. You made me feel seen and heard. You were the first one to ask me to host a school event. Because of you I just felt so seen. I believed that I was special because you had your way of making kids feel like that. Until now, I’m still ever curious and inquisitive. I still love music. I still love learning. For the doors you opened, I’ll forever be grateful.


2. My bestfriend C: Be creative and bold.

Oh wow, the road we travelled C. I can’t imagine life without you as my partner in crime. You influenced me to be creative and bold. You were my playmate, the person I told hilarious stories to, the one who influenced me to be so imaginative, my mentor and inspiration. We dreamed of a lot of things together. We’ve been through so much together. Because you are so brave, I felt and still am feeling that I can give birth to the great things that I am dreaming of because you inspire me to be bold and relentless in my passion. Thank you for being my sister from another mother. Thank you for the listening ear, for teaching me Buddhist principles, for treating me as family. I am so excited about what we are going to accomplish in this life.


3. My siblings: Love

Thank you for being the fuel of my engine, the wind beneath my wings, and the reason that I am still living. You are my army and my foundation. You teach me love, patience, and bravery. Because of you, I want to do so much good in this world. I want to be a good example to you my younger siblings. I want to be in a good financial standing so that I can provide your needs. I want to take you to Disneyland. Know that I am forever grateful for you five. I love you so much.


4. Mommy Oprah: Heal and live with a purpose

Ever since I watched your Harvard graduation speech, everything has changed. I was blown out by how amazing you are. You have gone through a traumatic childhood but you never let that experience beat you. Thank you for telling your story. You made us feel that even if there are so many challenges in your life, you can still heal and thrive. Because of your teachings, I managed to find my way to healing and be in alignment with who I am. You are the mother that I never had but thankfully there’s youtube and social media. I now can say that I am living my life on purpose and you played a big role on that.

5. My partner: Kindness, patience and unconditional love

Hi boyfriend. Although we see each other almost everyday I just want to flex you in this blog. You were a big part of my healing. Your presence consistently taught me that being kind and loving is not just something you feel and say, it’s something you work on every single day. I learned to be more kind and gentle even in really challenging situations. I also am learning about this partnership thing that we have. With you, I realIzed that love is a choice, and that we are teammates even if sometimes we are so pissed with each other. Thank you for reminding me that having patience is a must, and that it takes time for good things to come into fruition. I truly believe that you are God’s gift for every good that I did in my life.

6. Beyonce, Ashley Graham and all the curvy girls out there: Beauty

If I could have dime for every instance that I said, “You are fat and ugly,” to myself, I’d probably be a millionaire. Like, seriously, I hated looking at myself in the mirror because of society’s flawed beauty standards. I grew up thinking that I need to be skinny to be loved and called beautiful. You can even check my 2015 blog posts about that. But when I saw Beyonce and Ashley Graham slaying, I knew that my body is just not being represented a lot more in media. Thank you queens for representing us curvy girls. Now, I feel more free and confident to wear what I want to. I am proud of every curves and edges and I am now being kind to my body. I take care of it and speak kind words to it. We are all beautiful. We don’t have to be tall, skinny, and white to radiate that beauty. It starts with our heart.

7. Papa: Passion and Bravery

Hi Papa. You and basketball are two peas in a pod. I knew what passion looks like through seeing you play and teach basketball. I knew what genuine love looks like because you consistently showed that to us when you were alive. I know that every step needs bravery, even when you have to make unpopular choices. I understood being passionate and brave at a young age, so thanks for that Papa. I am who I am because you were such a good example to us. Now, I am so dedicated to my goal because it’s very clear to me that service is my passion.


I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am without these people who gave me permission. How about you? Who are your heroes and how did they influence you?

100 Things to Expect Before you Enter Medschool Pilipinas Edition

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PARA ALAM NIYO KUNG ANONG PINAPASOK NIYO.

It’s true what they say, taking the first step is easy but staying is the hardest part. Now I’m writing this because I know that there are people who are patient enough to read my long posts on dreams, tips, and tricks on this roller coaster that we all are trying to figure out. So yeah one year, a year of Guyton, Junqueirra, Lippincott, Gray’s, and etc. To the incoming first year medical student or anyone who’s thinking about becoming a medical doctor, here’s what to expect and a lot more:

1. You’ll realize that there’s just a lot to do. Five hours of sleep is gold. Goodluck!
2. You will learn the art of setting ten or more alarms or else you’re doomed.
3. You will probably sit on your bed after a long day and be surprised to find out that it’s already the next day. The nap turned into a full blast sleep.
4. You’ll develop your own way of coping with stress.
5. You will hit pause on some of your hobbies.
6. Your college textbooks will seem basic. Yup, you can now devour alien medical jargon better. Congratulations, you’re not as clueless.
7. You’ll thank yourself for having friends from higher years. They’re angels.
8. You’ll probably establish a routine.
9. Family will start asking you about medical concerns. They think you’re a doctor already. (No no no, sobrang layo pa po).
10. You will ask yourself why did you even think of punishing your 20s. Believe me it’s normal.
11. You will panic and end up studying anyway.
12. You will transform into a tita. Your bag will have tissues, katinko, ibuprofen, hair tie, sanitizer, crackers and all other stuff cause you just need ’em.
13. You will stain your white uniform once or twice.
14. You will switch to comfy although less stylish shoes.
15. You’ll have your go-to coffee that keeps you alert enough to understand everything. (Caramel Macchiato hello).
16. You will regret not doing your laundry or ironing on time.
17. Your room will turn into a jungle on exam week.
18. You’ll learn how to choose your battles when things don’t go your way. There are some things you let slide so you’ll have energy for what’s important.
19. You will learn how to run away from negativity. You just don’t need that.
20. Hopefully, you’ll have a stronger faith. (Sometimes nadadaan mo ang exam sa tiwala lang. 😂). Paano?
21. You’ll accept that your time is limited. There are birthdays you can’t come to and graduations you can’t attend. 😭
22. You will forget most of what you learned.
23. But hopefully remember what you need.
24. You’ll learn how to take on more responsibility than you could ever imagine.
25. You’ll feel guilt from time to time cause unlike your friends who are productive members of the society, you’re still studying.
26. Your family will be supportive and extremely proud. They will introduce you as the child or sibling na “nagdodoctor.” (At nakakapressure siya.)
27. You’ll be really grateful for your family. Without them you can’t face this.
28. You’ll have better leadership and management skills.
29. You’ll have better communication skills.
30. You’ll probably have better note-taking strategies.
31. You’ll learn how to extract blood (if you’re not a medtech).
32. You’ll learn how to take a blood pressure (if your premed is not clinical.)
33. You’ll learn how to take a patient history way better than when you entered medschool.
34. Your classmates will teach you a lot of medical stuff. This will be useful for nonmed premeds. 
35. You’ll have a destressing activity. (Roaming around bookstores. 😍).
36. You’ll have your favorite stress relief drink ( Biggs’ MANGO GRAHAM).
37. You’ll know where the best coffee shops are hiding.
38. You’ll know when your best study time is.
39. You are probably following a YouTube channel that teaches you tricks and helps keep you sane. (Med Insider, Aura Azarcon, Cathy Gonzaga).
40. You’ll have destressing buddies.
41. You’ll have study buddies.
42. You’ll have your favorite spot in school.
43. You will handle overwhelm better.
44. You’ll be more accepting about people’s shortcomings because you have a lot too.
45. You’ll learn how to work with a team.
46. You’ll learn how to be productive even in mini breaks.
47. You’ll learn how to adjust to abrupt schedule changes.
48. You’ll probably be more persistent than you used to be (because you don’t have a choice!).
49. You understand people more. Community immersion will teach you where people are coming from.
50. You will probably rant on Twitter .
51. Sometimes memes will be your only source of happiness.
52. You will look for motivation posts.
53. If you were previously working, you will miss earning money.
54. If you used to travel you will miss it, a lot. But treating this as a new adventure will do the trick.
55. You will doubt yourself 99% of the time but you’ll still push through anyway. Giving up is not an option.
56. You’ll feel like a badass when you can finally understand a concept by heart.
57. You’ll probably have a clue what specialties you MIGHT like.
58. Or might still not have a clue, and it’s okay.
59. You will feel like you gave your all but it still wasn’t enough.
60. You’ll be proud of yourself for trying.
61. You’ll thank God for the gift of friends who are always there during your breakdowns.
62. You’ll have great friends.
63. You’ll be a better teacher. 
64. You’ll give time for family even if it’s just a quick chat.
65. You will learn how to establish boundaries so that your safe space and sanity are still intact.
66. You will learn to celebrate your wins and work hard so that you won’t repeat your losses.
67. You’ll thank your past self for loving science. Because when you’re still curious, you’ll keep on wanting to learn.
68. You’ll learn that consistency is key, not motivation or inspiration.
69. You’ll meet amazing Doctors and ask yourself if you’ll ever be like them.
70. You will accept that medicine is your life and what’s worth having never comes easy.
71. You will still procrastinate even if you don’t want to.
72. You will know what kind of learner you are. (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or mixed).
73. You won’t entertain toxic people because guess what, you don’t even have the time. Lol.
74. You will discover new friendships, and see how amazing your classmates are (even if you’ve seen each other’s toxic side haha). Because yeah we’re humans and that’s what we do. We try to be better.
75. You will need your best friend.
76. You will probably got the hang of how your school gives tests.
77. Sometimes your brain will shut down because it needs rest. Let it.
78. You’ll learn how to be kind to yourself especially when you are coming short of your goals.
79. You’ll know that you can’t study everything but at least you tried your best.
80. You will be humbled by how much you do not know.
81. You will be grateful for the chance to learn more.
82. You will learn how to maximize any opportunity for sleeping. (Yung tipong makadikit lang ulo mo sa pader, tulog ka na.)
83. You will thrive in some subjects and be astounded by how dumb you can be in other areas. 😂 But it’s okay.
84. You’ll learn the value of commitment. It’s hard to commit to this profession but if you love what you do nothing will stop you from hustling.
85. You will make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes you’ll feel like a walking mistake hahaha. But that’s how we learn, and you’ll learn to accept that.
86. You’ll get jealous. Because your friends are getting married and having babies. But, you’ll realize that everybody has their own story. And this is yours, it may be different but it is yours.
87. Discomfort will be your comfort.
88. Anxiety will always be there. But you’ll know that you are bigger than the negative whispers in your head.
89. You will say a lot of sorry’s for flaking out on appointments because you are just too tired to go out.
90. You will feel how much your friends love you because they will understand.
91. You will meet your idols. (Doc Gia and Doc Fortun yieee thank you Anatomy Teaching Learning and Academic Society!)
92. You will learn way more than you thought you ever could. What you study in undergrad for a semester, you’ll study for a week. Surprise!
93. Music will be your best friend.
94. You’ll have developed tricks to keep you awake when studying. Even something as weird as speaking in a British accent while memorizing cranial nerves.
95. You will attract people who are like you.
96. You will be braver and stronger than you ever thought. You’ll realize that medschool will not care about your personal problems, you will still take exams no matter how shitty you feel.
97. You will be extremely grateful for every person cheering you on.
98. Your cats and dogs will be your sanctuary. You will miss them a lot. Hays.
99. You will get sick but you’ll handle it aka superhuman ka. Haha.
100. Once you’re done with first year, it will probably be more clear for you if this is the life you want for yourself.

It is an eternity of studying. If you’re one of the fools, you know that it still is. ❤️

Feel free to add more in the comments so we can guide future MDs.😊

Dear Mediocre Med Student

Do you ever think that you are not enough? The feeling of inadequacy is something that crosses your mind on a constant basis. Will you ever be a doctor who’s good enough?  Maybe you asked yourself, “Why can’t I be just like my classmates? They are doing better, adjusting way better.” You don’t know why you feel paralyzed.

This is for you, the medical student with low self esteem. I know you are always outside of your comfort zone and it sucks. You don’t adjust quickly. That is just who you are.  But remember what you are training for. You are learning how to save lives. You are trying to be your future patient’s best hope and chance to live.

I hope you remember now more than ever how important this dream of yours is. Remember how organized you were as a kid? It was just like yesterday when you opened a biology book with a penguin cover and started reading, and loving it.

Always remember the joy in learning. You are here because of your curiosity. Let it be bigger than your worries. I know you always doubt yourself but isn’t learning all these things amazing?

I know you  wish to be like your past self. Where did all the motivation go? Maybe you should just keep on moving even if you are feeling shitty. Maybe that is just all the burnout talking. I know you don’t have a clue when the spark will come back but what I know is that you should still feel grateful that each morning you wake up, you still get the fighting chance to live, express yourself, and be free.

Be free sweet child. Live the life you dedicated yourself to. Bad days? Suck it up. It’s just the yin and yang of life. Have fun along the way. I know it’s all too much. But you know that you’re the type of girl who can handle ANYTHING. Go amazing girl, shine.

 

Tulak

Takbo. Habol. Lipad.

Sabi nila kailangan ko daw matutong huwag tumigil,

kahit pagod na, ang huminga ng saglit ay bawal,

kung tagumpay ang hangarin.

 

Ngiti. Halakhak. Labas ang ngipin.

Ang sarap tumawa, sana’y walang katapusan,

kung sumaya ay ganon kadali,

bakit kayhirap gawin,

tila marami ang malungkot sa atin?

 

Hinga. Pahingi ng pahinga.

Ito ang sigaw ng katawan kong tulog ay kaytagal nang inaasam.

Ngunit seryoso, kailan kaya kita mababawi?

Pwede pa ba? May oras pa ba?

Biro lang, may pagsusulit pa bukas.

Ginusto mo yan, wag kang magsisi.

 

Problema. Masakit. Madilim.

Kaya ko pa bang harapin ang bukas?

Kaya ko pa bang magsimula ulit?

Sa ilalim ng makulimlim na ulapat bugso ng ulan,

bakit parang ayaw na niyang tumigil?

Ate. Kapatid. Pamilya.

Kayo ang pumupuno sa akin.

Salamat dahil nariyan kayo, ang makikipot at paliko-likong daan,

matapang kong tinatahak, sapagkat kayo’y sumisigaw,

naniniwalang ang tagumpay ay nasa akin.

 

Lipunan. Magulo. Pabagsak.

May pag-asa pa kaya?

Kung ako’y tumigil, ano na ang kapalaran ng henerasyon na susunod sa akin?

 

Utak. Puso. Pag-ibig.

Mahirap pumili ng susundin,

ngunit kailangan, dahil kung hindi,

tila’y ligaw na damo, walang susundan, kung saan-saan mapapadpad,

oo, kayo ang bumubulong sa akin.

 

Kape. Alak. Tubig.

Aah, sa bawat tulo, napapawi ang pagod, kaya mo pa,

isang lagok pa, iyong matatapos ang inaaral,

magiging bihasa balang araw, sa larangang pinili.

 

Pluma. Papel. Laptop. 

Sila ang aking karamay.

Kaya. Kaya. Kaya.

Pwedeng magpahinga Juana, pero hinding-hindi titigil.

Prepare and Dare

Do you remember how 2018 was? It was so good to you but it was also heartbreaking in some ways. You won and you lost. So many things happened right? There were a lot of surprises, some where good and some were bad but what matters is you learned.

You learned that gratitude is essential.

Every day there is still something to be grateful for. You might be in too much pain, but the sun still rose, your dad cooked breakfast for you, you have family who unconditionally looks out for you. Isn’t it amazing how everything seems orchestrated? There are people who truly care for you. You can make a list of those amazing humans and also the circumstances which brought you to where you are right now.

Love is found in the mundane.

Our princess mentality taught us that love should be in a form of a knight in shining armor or grand romantic expressions. But in 2018, maybe you saw and realized that it’s actually carved in the simple, repetitive actions. It’s when your bestfriend checks up on you, or when your friend tags you in a meme. It’s when someone listens to your rants or eats lunch with you. Love is when your little brother hugs you or when your cousin plays with you. It is actually everywhere, sometimes we’re just too clouded with pain and anger to notice it. I hope you learn to look for it, even in in the most difficult situations.

Accept. Accept. Accept.

Whatever it is, accept. Whether it’s good or bad accept. This Earth is not a paradise. Maybe you got lucky and got a fair share of wealth or maybe it’s the opposite. You may be slaying your goals or not getting the results you want. Nevertheless, you must still learn to accept what is. Because only with a heart that acknowledges what the present moment offers, can you operate from a genuine place. Learn how to be okay with what you have.

Try your best to see with compassion.

This is really hard to do especially when someone is just rude to you for some reason, and you don’t understand what you did wrong for that person to hate you. Even if the other person is just too mean, you have to do your best to look at the person and situation with compassion. Their behavior is not about you, it’s about their pain. They are just projecting that to you. Probably because you are a reflection of who they can’t be or unresolved childhood issues that has nothing to do with you.

At the end of the day, only yourself can save you.

You should be your own best friend and cheer leader. Stop relying on others. You are allowed to ask for help but you must not put your life on someone else’s hands. Be the captain of your own ship. Discover who you are, your dreams and passions and relentlessly follow it. More importantly, take responsibility for everything that happens in your life. You have no one to blame but yourself. Be mature enough. Respect other people’s time. Save yourself, don’t wait for others to do it for you.

Fake it till you make it.

No one has everything figured out, even the so called geniuses still has knowledge gaps. Sometimes you just have to pretend that you know what you’re doing even if you really don’t. Prepare and dare. Claim success like it’s your birthright. Who knows, you might just wake up living the dreams you never thought you could have.

We still have a lot to learn. This thought makes this new year even more exciting. I hope you do better this year, but if you don’t, know that it’s okay to fall short, what matters is you did the best that you could with what you have. 💕

NMAT for Dummies

Do you have to be super smart to pass the NMAT? NO. Being smart helps, but hard work is still the best technique.

Hello soon-to-be MDs! To be a medical doctor in the Philippines, step one is studying premed, next is taking the NMAT. What is it anyway?

NMAT is a mandatory exam for aspiring medical students in the Philippines.  This exam will be the basis for your med school application. Medical schools would require an NMAT score to gauge your capacity to be trained as doctors.

For a little bit of a backstory, I took the NMAT twice. One was in 2014 when I was still in college and the latest was in March 2018, I was then a very busy corporate slave. To be honest, I really wasn’t able to study that much because I was in the middle of writing our undergrad manuscript when I took it in 2014. In 2018, I was very busy in my job as a customer service executive for a bank. So, if you’re freaking out because you don’t have enough time to study, breathe in, breathe out. Believe me, it is possible to get a high score, but this doesn’t mean that you have to procrastinate. You will fare better if you study. I swear.

Here are some steps that I highly recommend for a stress-free NMAT:

Create a Plan.

Are you familiar with the Four P’s concept? Prior Planning Prevents Poor outcome. You have to plan based on your schedule. If you’re still a student, your advantage is the concepts of Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and  Social Sciences are still fresh to you. So you don’t really need to study that much as compared to someone who has been working for a couple of years. Make a plan based on your schedule. For tough days, it’s okay not to study, just make sure that you compensate with the hours lost in your next study session.

Hoard Reviewers

I highly suggest printing the practice test given by CEM (Center for Educational Measurement). Take the exam with the allotted time for each subject and check your weakest points. Then make a plan and put in more hours for your weakest subjects.

You can also buy MSA reviewers or borrow from friends. The advantage of MSA Reviewers is it is really high yield. Using this would make your brain ready for difficult questions. It’s actually harder than the exam itself however, there’s no harm in over reviewing.

You can also ask for handouts from your classmates or friends who attended review centers. Just make sure that you focus on the practice test provided by CEM. Always rationalize your answers. Google and Merriam will be your best friends.

If you can afford enrolling in a review center, you can also attend one too. For me though, shelling out five digits is not worth it and also not possible. (I was a financially struggling student and also a breadwinner so it’s a big no.)

Block time for studying.

For undergrads, at least an hour a day would be okay. For dummies like me, I really need a longer time time frame to review so even twenty to thirty minutes progress per day in a span of two to three months really helped. Just make sure that you are making progress even if it’s just three questions, it works.

For working folks, create a timeline and really devote at least an hour or more for reviewing. When my schedule is quite free, I wake up extra early in the morning to clock a few hours of studying. If I really can’t wake up early I go to coffee shops and stay there for three to four hours to make up for the lost study time. I do this two to three times a week.

Exercise

Maybe you’d think, “I don’t even have time for studying, how can you even ask me to exercise?” Believe me when I say, this did wonders to my discipline and energy level. I devoted an hour of exercise after work. This released happy hormones which I really needed in stressful workdays and also improved my focus with the limited study time that I have. Just do it and you’ll see.

Social Media Detox

If you really want to be a medical doctor, you have to eliminate distractions, and that includes good old social media. Yep. Uninstall everything. You would be surprised with how much you can accomplish without notifications bothering you everyday. I did one month of social media detox, and I credit my NMAT score to this mini sacrifice.

Know when your brain is productive.

If you are a morning person, do it before everybody else wakes up. If you are more of a night owl, then study in the evening. Just don’t force yourself to study when your brain is tired because it is counterproductive. Your brain needs rest. Listen to what it needs. Adjust your study schedule depending on your brain’s capacity.

Tell your friends and family about your exam.

They will cheer you on and they will keep you accountable. My best friend and sisters would always chat me to ask how I am and also remind me that I should be studying. (Conscience haha). Support is essential in your path to becoming a medical doctor. It is going to be a tough ride, and it starts with the NMAT.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Do you have to be super smart to pass the NMAT? NO. Being smart helps, but hard work is still the best technique. You can’t control what you’ve got from the IQ genetic lottery but you can keep on putting in the work to achieve your goals. I scored lower in Math on my first take, but I just kept on practicing and voila on my second take, who got a high score in Math? This girl. Work hard my dear future MD. Your future self will thank you for it.

Begin with the end in mind.

Ask yourself why are you gong to take this exam. It is to have the opportunity to be trained to SAVE LIVES. You might not be in medical school yet but if you want that MD so bad, start acting like one now. When you can visualize yourself as a doctor you will be pulled towards that dream. The Universe, God, destiny, or whatever you believe in will not plant this dream if you don’t have what it takes. This is for you. Now go kick some ass.

How to Rock Your Med School Interview

I am writing this in hopes of helping soon-to-be doctors out there in there upcoming med school interview. I had a good NMAT score, but it wasn’t as high as I wanted it to, but much to my surprise, I got the top spot in the second batch of applicants in my med school. So probably, there was something  I did right in my interview to have been the top choice. I know how much anxiety interviews could bring, but no worries, I got your back.

  1. Read about the school and the curriculum.

Make sure that the school of your choice is the right fit for you. Med schools have different teaching methods. Some would use traditional teaching while others are using the PBL or problem-based learning. You have to do your homework because knowing the curriculum is crucial to your studies. Don’t ever apply to a med school if you haven’t checked their teaching method because it might not work for you. Also, the panel will ask you about these things.

2. Review your undergraduate thesis.

The panel will ask you about this. So, make sure that you really know it by heart. The gist, significance, and how you did the study. They are probably looking for clues on how you performed academically, aside from what’s indicated in your transcript. You must know how to do academic research, I think this is a test of how you explain technical information as well.

3. Ask your friends in that med school for tips.

Every school has a different set of rules and questions for an interview, and it would help if you ask your ate’s and kuya’s for golden advice. Like, what are the questions that they’ve been asked. By doing this, you can anticipate the questions and you’d be more relaxed to answer the panel.

4. Pray.

If you believe in God, the Universe, or any higher being, this is the time to ask for guidance. If not, it’s okay. Having a relaxed heart and mind is vital in these make it or break it moments. Knowing that you are guided helps a lot.

5. Relax.

Try breathing exercises. Thinking happy thoughts would also help. This is not the time for you to imagine the worst case scenarios. Whatever activity or ritual you do to relax yourself, do them. Because if your brain is in chaos, you might not be able to think of your most authentic answers. So dude, relax.

6. Talk to your family and friends before your interview.

This is the time for the much needed ego boost. You have to believe that you can do this and that this is for you. Who are the best cheerleaders? It’s your family and friends. Tell them about your upcoming interview and for sure they will spew all the encouraging words that you need.

7. Always stick to your why.

I remember being asked, “Why medicine?” And what I answered was, “Why not?” I absolutely can’t find any reason why I shouldn’t take this path. I genuinely answered all the questions, sticking to my reason  that everything that happened to me led me to this moment. I think they saw that. Remembering your why would keep your answers coherent. This is the foundation of everything that you will say in that interview.

8. Be honest.

I know a couple of people who answered with the mindset that, “I must say what the panel wants me to say.” Contrary to that technique, I would advise you to be honest. You will know if it’s for you if they accept your most honest answer. Why am I saying this? I just don’t want you to fall into the trap of doing something just because it looks good. “Being a doctor looks good for my parents, or it has a good pay.”  You have to want it with a deeper reason. I actually did not rehearse my answers or have a list of questions printed. I just told them that, “I want this, and that I am not any better than the other applicants. All of us want this badly. But I think, this opportunity would not present itself at the perfect time in my life, if this is not for me. ”

 

So aspiring med students, do the things mentioned above and you’d probably have an edge. Remember that medicine is a rewarding job. You got this.

10 Things I Learned in One Semester of Medschool

“This is madness. Why did I do this to myself again?” I never thought I would ask these questions because I know how much I want this. I have a poster pinned on my wall way back in college that writes, “Doctor Katey.” But the “how”, oh my God, you can never underestimate it. Here are ten things that I learned so far aside from biochemistry, physiology, histology, embryology, and all those hardcore sciences.

  1. People have different learning strategies. You do you.

Your method in undergrad could still work in medschool. However, with the bulk of information, active learning is the key. You won’t have the time to repeat a material over and over again so you must practice the skill of choosing the important parts and using it to your advantage. Honestly, I am not a fast reader when it comes to technical material, so I learned that there are books which are easier for me to digest. I start with them and then I watch lecture videos, listen to the professors and reporters and try to integrate what I learn. The key here is, do what works for you and throw away what doesn’t.

2. Learn together.

Someone once said that no man is an island. Let me rephrase it, try to be an island in medschool and you’ll die. What do I mean by this? There are gunners everywhere especially in high school or even college. They work their way to the top by crushing anyone who’s in the way and by being selfish with information that can help others. I’m telling you, you can’t be like this. Learning should be collaborative. Some of your classmates are chemists, who are so good in biochemistry, which you will need all the time. There are pharmacists who are amazing in pharmacology, medical technologists who knows a lot about diagnostics, and the nurses who can orient you with clinical skills. You will need them. And they will need you. So practice mutualism. Help them and they’ll help you. Medicine will be so much easier this way.

3. Priority one: YOURSELF

I used to be really active before I studied med. But, the overwhelming workload surprised me. So please try your best to have a good mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical life. Yes, those readings are important but you can’t be an excellent doctor if you don’t take care of yourself. So, meditate, stretch, run, listen to music, and party from time to time. Sleep. Believe me when I say that sacrificing your sleep will backfire on you. I scored higher on tests wherein I got more sleep and I almost failed when I pulled out an all nighter. Prioritize YOU.

4. Saying no is a requirement.

You only have 24 hours in a day. If you say yes to everything and everyone, you will find yourself exhausted and not primed to learn. When you decided to be a medical doctor you should have said goodbye or hit pause to other activities that you regularly do. For example, I used to have gigs before medschool, but I can’t stay up late so now, I don’t. I still sing sometimes, but it’s not my priority anymore. I only have a fixed time for my hobbies. I still do them but, I just can’t afford to sacrifice my rest because I need to learn so that I’ll be an excellent doctor. So, say NO. You don’t have to join all organizations because of peer pressure. Join them because you really want to and don’t overestimate your energy. Always think before saying yes.

5. Spending wisely.

For someone who has worked for four years prior to studying med, this was really hard. I just don’t know how to spend like a student. Think before you order that Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. That can cover for one day of your allowance. I can’t shop like I used to or eat whatever I want whenever I want. Have friends who are also financially conscious. So what we do is after our exams, we eat out and watch a movie. For the rest of the week, we spend like students. Remember that life is hard, and we shouldn’t make it harder for our parents or our relatives financing our studies.

6. It’s okay to have mental breakdowns. Call a friend.

This is normal. I hate it when this happens, but I am telling you, it will. Here’s where you need mental toughness, family, and friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people when you can’t take it anymore. Believe me, someone will help you. I had a health scare a week before my final exams. But because I have this strong support system, I managed to stay sane amidst all those dreadful moments. Studying is hard, all the more if you have other matters to think about. You need friends. Ask for help.

7. Adapting to  your pace.

Unlike most of my classmates who are fresh from undergrad, I’m not as mentally quick as I used to. I got really pressured at first because who likes being the dumb one? However, it dawned on me that pressuring myself doesn’t work. I had to be kind to myself and work at my pace. You must do this too. There are topics that others are more adept to, instead of being pressured, work harder. Read more and ask them to explain a concept to you. You’ll be amazed by how it’s easier to learn just by asking. Be kind to yourself even if your brain is like a turtle at first. Believe me, you’re not alone. You can’t be excellent always, but you can try to be the best version of yourself, and work your hardest everyday.

8. Always think about your future patient.

Your resilience will be tested. If you only have two to three hours of sleep, exams, projects, and reports you might be prompted to give up and question yourself. But basically, I just think ahead and imagine myself in ten years. If I have a patient who’s dying, does he or she deserve a crappy doctor? NO. I won’t be that doctor. I may not be the best but at least I know that I did my best. The thought of my future patients is enough to put me out of a slump. I just rest my mind and hustle again. It’s hard but it’s worth it.

9. Screw competition, aim to learn.

Being overly competitive doesn’t work in medschool. Always aim to learn. Listen to the lectures because you might need that information someday. Go to class because learning will make you a better doctor. If your aim is to shine, then this is not the right place for you. You will burn out eventually if you’re excelling because of recognition. Dig deeper. Learn deeper.

10. Going back to your why.

Your why must be clear to you. If it’s not, then you’re on a shaky path. In one semester of medschool I realized that this is not for the weak or faint hearted. Everyday, you will be humbled by how much you do not know. If you’re looking for a place that will cradle your emotions, this is not it. You will make a lot of mistakes and look dumb 99% of the time. You are like a child who’s trying to walk for the first time. That’s basically how I feel everyday. Always go back to your reason. What pulled you to be here? If that is strong enough, I think you will love it.

 

I still love it. I’m tired but I’m happy. If you love what you’re doing, you’ll never get tired. You will be exhausted, but you’ll just hit pause but you’ll never stop.