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.

Jump and Fall

I am a risk taker. Period.

When I say I take risks, it’s not the do or die extreme sports stuff that I’m talking about. I take risks, life-changing, mind-boggling, and disturbing risks to the people around me.

I almost always say go for it.

I won a lot of times when I just say, fuck it, let’s go. Than when I shy away from opportunities and go back to my safe haven.

I took a plane and went abroad, alone. I got lost many times in that foreign country, alone. I applied for a job that I had no experience whatsoever and just said, yeah, let’s do this. I have confessed to a guy, got rejected, and looked like a fool. I wanted to sing with a live audience and so I did. I gave my heart to someone who didn’t feel the same. I took loads of risks. Hence I can say, who I am today, is a result of thousands of choices, good and bad. I worked hard to be better and I still am working to be a better version of my yesterday self.

Do I regret taking risks?

Hell no.

Well, I could’ve done better but here’s the thing, I learned because of tons of mistakes on my part. I became wiser because I put myself out there and allowed the universe to interact with my everyday actions. I chose to happen to things, and things happened to me.

But isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

They tell us to play it safe, to stick to the status quo, to numb our hearts and forget about emotions. They said we should always have a thick wall that no one can ever penetrate.  They said we should not trust people. They said we should do whatever it takes to distance our vulnerable self from people.

But honey, what kind of life is that?

A life of no risks, of not jumping the cliff because of the fear of the unknown, a boring, mundane existence. No. I can’t fathom living like that.

I’d rather be bruised and wounded than stay unscathed but without stories to tell and lives touched. You can’t make me live in that fortress.

I know that by taking risks, there is a a big chance for you to get hurt. But by doing so, you live. You love, and you learn. Experience and mistakes teaches you more than any theory out there. When you go the arena, and play, you get to have the chance to bask in life.

There are no guarantees of happy endings. Because happiness after all, is a temporary feeling. But why don’t we fill each day with those tiny moments of happiness? Live in the moment. Take risks. Jump and fall and learn.

When the Heartaches Make Sense

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of healing people. She wanted it so bad and did everything she can with whatever she has to make that dream happen.

Sadly, life happened and the dream of attaching two letters at the end of her surname sounded impossible. She accepted that if it’s for her, it will happen. Though at that moment, everything around her sent one message, “No, this isn’t for you.”

She listened to the signs and messages. She accepted that she was probably one of those people who had a dream carved in her heart, did everything to make it come true, but ended up doing what was needed of her instead of what her heart desired. She said, “Alright fate, it hurts that the one thing that pulled me to wake up in the morning is not happening.”

She surrendered.

I was an atheist. I could probably be one of the most pragmatic person you will ever meet a year ago. One could even say, “Katey, please grow a heart.” I never believed in fate or whatsoever external force that guides you to your path. Oh please, not me.

I used to think that hard-work is the sole key to success. If I work hard enough and give it my 101% things would work out according to how I want it to happen. The world was my oyster, and I was there to play the field. I was a beast, determined to wrestle with challenges and smack it on the face, and say, “Bring it on because this girl can do it all.”

And the world really gave its all. Until I found myself picking up the pieces of my so-called armor of courage, or of arrogance the way I see it now. I was broken. I became so afraid of what viand is going to be served again. Can I still handle it?

No, not anymore. I couldn’t take any more of it. I give up.

“I give up.” Those three words that I never thought I would utter, but I did, repeatedly. I beat myself up for being a failure, for always coming short of what I expected of myself, for being a coward. It was all a bluff. I wasn’t brave after all. I was the worst. I look at the mirror and all I saw was someone who was weak. I’m not even worth an ounce of love.

I felt that, longer than I should have.

But, slowly, I crawled out of that hell hole. It wasn’t easy though. Especially when you’re all alone in a foreign land. It’s scary to fight your demons when you decide to move to another country with people who barely speaks your language. I had to learn how to find my way without losing the little sanity that I still had.

I started with saying “Thank you,” the moment I wake up. I began running again, going out with friends, and writing. Sometimes too much human interaction still overwhelmed me, those days I still hid from the world. I didn’t know the exact day when I felt totally okay. I just realized one day, that I was smiling again, the kind of smile that stayed. It wasn’t an all for show smile. I was happy.

It’s okay that I will not be Dr. Katey anymore. I am fine with who I was and looking forward to the person that I was going to become. When I was okay, I decided to go back home and do the work that I was set to do, whatever mission that was.

I started working in the BPO industry. I applied because originally, I planned on taking a master’s degree in environmental science. I would need a day job that would put food on the plate and finance my youngest sibling’s studies. I needed also a job that unlike teaching, would not require so much mental energy when I get home since I was going to apply to graduate school.

When you have a plan, it’s funny how one phone call can change your life.

I was about to prepare for work when my dad called me. It was the usual dad jokes and checking up on me phone call. But then, he called because someone volunteered to pay for my medical school tuition fee.

“Papa, is this a joke?” I mockingly said.

“No, this is real. Do you still want to do it?”

Without a second of doubt, “Hell yeah!”

Sometimes I still pinch myself. Is this fucking real? I even get scared when I’m reviewing for NMAT. What if this gets taken away from me? But even if I’m scared, I’ll still move forward.

I believed that someday, my dream for my myself and my country will come true. I gave up the MD dream. A week before the news, my good friend L asked me, “So Katey what’s the plan?”

“To tell you the truth L, I don’t know anymore. I would probably go to Law School or push through with master’s. I’ll just go with the flow. But if someone would give me a million pesos, it would still be medschool.”

A week after that conversation, I didn’t actually get a million, but I got so much more.

To you reader, don’t give up on your dreams. You never know what’s ahead.


Katey (Future MD)

P.S. I will be posting more about the MD Journey from now on.

Honesty Nightmare

I would often clam up at the moment of truth. I always say that I value honesty over a sweet lie. Truth is not something that we can expect from everyone. I myself am guilty of this sometimes, I mean most of the time.

And so here I am facing my laptop, trying to be as honest as I can at least to myself. I have been in a slump lately. Things and people are changing and as usual, I find it hard to keep up.

I remember last year how confused I was around this time. I was trying to heal and I was able to do so. I remembered how I did it and there’s just one constant thing that saved me. It is writing.

I would probably be pouring my heart out again for the next couple of days, weeks, or months, no matter how long it takes, to find my clarity again; to be centered again. I still am threading the path of being more present in every moment. I am in the process of transforming into a more resilient person, more accepting of the circumstances rather than being resistant.

I think where I fell is in my belief that every person is love-able. I gave too much of myself again, and in the end, it can’t be reciprocated. I put a person on a pedestal. So I had high expectations and was fazed with all the nice gestures and kindness. I forgot that just like any gadget, I also, am dispensable to someone else.

I enjoyed the attention, the feeling of someone always giving the time to bother you almost every waking hour. I missed the feeling of being special, because it’s been a long time since I let my walls down for anyone. Because, I hardened my heart for some reason.

Maybe it wasn’t you. Maybe it was just the feeling that I missed. And you were there. Sadly, I unconsciously got trapped. Here I am writing my heart out again, hoping that when the words flow out, you too will. I am not going to numb my heart, the way I did before. I’ll just feel it and write about it. I’ll be damned if you read this but whatever, at least I get to have the courage in an online space that would probably go unnoticed.

So how do I become honest to you? I don’t know. I will never know if I ever will be. I just think that after a year, this won’t even matter to me anymore, even though at the moment, it does.

Next year, I would probably be sitting in front of my laptop, laughing at how ridiculous I was, how funny our hearts could act, and how foolish we can be. But that thought gives me peace. In fact, I am looking forward to that day when this would all sound like a joke.

Oh yeah, I don’t know if I should give you my birthday gift. Should I? Fuck it. You’d forget about me anyway. Might as well be dumb and give it to you.

I wish I could tell you everything.

I wish I could be a hundred percent honest with you.

I wish I could tell you that I miss our conversations about anything under the sun.

I wish you didn’t build a wall and close everybody off.

I wish you were consistent and honest.

I wish you were ready.

I wish you didn’t put me to a test that I was not aware of.

I wish I haven’t met you so I wouldn’t be this confused and affected.

I wish I could turn back time and not have talked to you under that huge mango tree cause both of us didn’t like to drink.

I wish I just remained inside my safe cocoon and not have had myself open up to you.

I wish I could tell myself that you are nothing to me.

I wish I could unlike you.

I wish you didn’t pique my interest.

I wish we never had intellectual conversations in the first place.

I wish I’d have told you that I was sapiosexual and that you have to stay as far away as possible.

I wish when you asked me if you needed to stay away, I’d said yes.

I wish I could see your flaws.

I wish all those flaws would be enough for me to forget you and not be interested anymore.

I wish after writing about you over and over again, my feelings would also dry up.

I wish I could focus now and stop thinking about you.

I know that I can. Just give me time.

And if you happened to read this you would realize that I’m a master of hiding my feelings and lying when it comes to matters of the heart.

Yes, I’m that afraid.