It seems to me that Medicine is starting to become a trend a lot of nurses seem to want to get into, but for all the wrong reasons. I’m blogging about this because it’s summer and I have nothing to do, and because I am becoming increasingly annoyed over the tidal wave of messages I have been receiving from people regarding medicine because of the excessively wrong notions they have in their head from only God knows where. I actually don’t mind answering and I like to help whenever I can, but sometimes, people cross the line and I find their ignorance overbearing.
I find it extremely bothersome, having to correct the wild assumptions people make about med school.
A couple of those include the following:
1. Medicine is one of my options because I don’t know what to do right now.
First things first, medicine should never be merely an option. It takes years of careful planning and thought before one can even begin to consider taking up medicine because it is a lifelong commitment. I am plagued by people who tell me medicine is just one of the options they’re considering because they are unsure of what to do after nursing. My fellow batch mates and I took years to come to the realization that this is what we wanted. It isn’t something you decide to do on a whim. It entails years and years of hard work and sacrifice to even come to this stage. Admittedly, the idea of becoming a doctor is something that is conceived easily, but the notion doesn’t end there, it must evolve into a calling fueled by desire, burning into a passion. It is not something you consider along with other things. Its something you have to want really bad. Really really really really bad. So if you have other options in mind, you might as well junk medicine from the list, because it isn’t something you’ve thought enough about. For us, it’s Medicine or Bust.
2. Medicine should be easy because I took up Nursing as my Pre-med.
I hear this a lot. People think that being in the healthcare profession means there is some sort of marriage between the two. I am here to tell you that there isn’t. There may be a handful of similarities, but having the mindset of a nurse while in med school disrupts potential avenues for learning. By having your mind set in a specific way brought about by being taught to think in a specific manner, you end up boxing yourself in and setting limits for yourself. There may be a familiarity of concept or theories but medicine will never be “easy” because of nursing. By having this sense of familiarity, you will let your guard down and eventually settle for what you already know thinking that past knowledge will sustain you and you will begin to assume you know what you’re talking about. Nursing can only take you so far in medicine. In order to fully embrace the higher school of thought, the nurse has to be switched off from your mind for you to begin to tackle the different approaches in learning.
3. Medicine is a good choice because there are no jobs for nurses in the Philippines at the moment and it’s difficult to land a job abroad or Better take up Medicine so you’ll earn a lot of money.
Money is never a good enough motivation to do something. Those motivated by money make the worst kinds of doctors.
4. I’m/You’re smart. Therefore I/you should proceed to medicine.
This is one of the most common misconceptions with regards to medicine. If I remember correctly, my boyfriend’s workmates were encouraging him to proceed to medicine because he’s smart. I have also heard a lot of people encourage their friends or relatives to take up medicine for this reason. Time and time again, I tell my boyfriend not to listen to the people around him who give foolish advice because they don’t know any better. Besides wanting to proceed, it takes more than intelligence to be a good doctor. There is no use filling a person’s head with notions to take up medicine, using their Intelligence Quotient as ammunition because it isn’t good enough. People do not know the damage they do when they push their friends or relatives to pursue medicine for this reason. I have seen a lot of my friends, including some of my batch mates, who are all very smart; drop out because medicine was not what they expected it to be or their performance was not to their liking despite the fact that that they were highly intellectual people. What I’m driving at is that the idea of pursuing a medical career is a very seductive idea when you have the brains for it and especially when you have people around you egging you on to give it a try. The thing is, these people around you will not have to go through what YOU will go through when you take up medicine. For them, there will be no losses, no damages done, no consequences. I am telling you, that if this is the sole purpose as to why you plan on pursuing medicine, then it would be a smarter choice if you stayed put and took the time to reassess yourself before you blindly jump in. Medicine is exhausting. Not only mentally, but the strain of what you will go through will affect you physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially. The course itself requires a certain degree of intelligence but also diligence and willingness to sacrifice anything to achieve your purpose. You need to be in love with what you’re doing.
5. After 4 years, I will be a doctor, so it’s worth a try.
You might mean something like 10 years. If you have no plans of specializing, you might as well not proceed at all. It defeats the purpose of taking up medicine if you plan on being a jack of all trades but a master of none.
6. After 4 years, I will be earning a lot of money.
After 4 years, you’ll be reviewing for the board exam, and if you pass that, there’s internship, residency… SO NO. 😀
7. Being a doctor is one way of becoming rich fast.
Only if you topped the board exam and you are one of the best at what you do. With the influx of people aspiring to be part of the medical profession, it is difficult to establish a clinic or begin working without either being the best, taking over a family practice, of having a lot of connections. People have difficulty trusting new doctors regardless of skill. There have been doctors who, after 5-6 years post grad, have yet to find a job in a hospital or have yet to open up their own clinic.
8. It’s easier when you’re a doctor.
Trust me, it’s not. Can you imagine the gravity of your position and the impact you will have on the lives of other people, and how what you do or say can affect them and change the course of their lives for better or for worse? Personally, as first year medicine student, people have been coming up to me consulting me about what’s going on with their body and what medicine they should take, or if the lump they have is unusual or if they have cancer. I am constantly overwhelmed. I try to be confident in what I have learned and try to begin to apply that into practice but a part of me constantly holds back and is constantly frightened. Frightened by the thought that what if something goes wrong, what if I made a mistake. So after I give my opinion about anything, I always encourage them to consult a doctor. I know that at the moment, I lack the knowledge and skills to be able to advise them accordingly, but years from now, there will always be the fear in me that something can go wrong and the knowledge that I am dealing with another human being. The life of another person is literally in my hands and there should be no room for error because one wrong move and everything goes downhill. That is the fear I have to learn to live with as a doctor. So no. It’s not easier.
9. I don’t need to like to read to take up medicine.
You have got to be one of the biggest idiots ever. To be in med school, reading will become your life. You will spend 10-16 hours a day reading and you will spend the remaining time resting so you can keep reading. There will be nothing left for you but to read.
10. You’re school is easier than mine.
My school? Is easy?! Whatever gave you that idea? My school is in the same league as UP considering both schools have a consistent 100% passing rate every single board exam. From an initial 200 freshmen students, the cuts are so steep, once you graduate (if you even graduate), you’re left with only 50 students or less. We have exams every week and there is no room for rest. Everything is fast paced and nothing is spoon fed. You are expected to know the topic for every module before you come into SGD (Small Group Discussion) and books are not allowed in class. your participation will be graded during SGD by a facilitator who may or may not contribute to the discussion. You will learn as a group and what you learn depends on what other people have learned. You will tackle body systems this way and because everything is so broad you will need to learn as much as you can the best way that you can about a specific topic from the vantage point of 4 major sub-subjects (Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry and Histology. You will have 3 hours of discussions daily. During laboratory, you will dissect an actual cadaver and identify body parts yourself with the aid of your atlas without help from the facilitators. You will need to read before you come in to know where the nerves and blood vessels are, as they are to be preserved. You will need to know how to identify a certain cell, epithelium, connective tissue or whatever else part of the slide of a specific organ at a glance. You will need to know the purpose of each structure and what is unique to that specific slide.
You will have 4 kinds of written exams: 2 long exams after every system, 1 unit exam after every 2 systems, 2 written bimonthly exams (1 exam per system). You will have practical exams in histology and anatomy every unit exam and bimonthly exam. Each practical exam is 40 items per subject and is a moving exam with 45 seconds per number. You will need 75% to pass.
Oral examinations occur during bimonthly exams and consist of 24 topics based on any of the systems you have previously discussed. During the day of the oral examination, you will be assigned to any of the facilitators and you will be asked to choose 3 questions to answer and explain in detail. The facilitator has to be satisfied with your answer for you to get a good score. You only have 10 minutes.
Final exams consists of 4 days of written exams based on the 4 subjects from cover to cover because technically, all books HAVE been read from cover to cover. Failing any exam will mean deficits. Deficits mean you need to catch up not only to pass but to get scores high enough to cancel out your deficits. An accumulation of deficits means failing. AND THIS IS ONLY FIRST YEAR.
So my school is easy? Please. Your school can’t even cover the basics well enough for your graduates to pass the board exam. You’re trying to fly when you can barely walk.
11. What’s the passing rate of your school so I can apply? Wait, what’s PBL?
Seriously? You shouldn’t go around asking people about the passing rate of the NMAT without knowing about the school. That is a very dumb way of school hunting. You are an idiot. Don’t bother.