Thursday, October 30, 2008

not anyone

"anyone can study medicine," she said, "you don't even need to be smart. all you have to do is be hardworking."

when i was in pre-clinical school, i believed her. after all, the people who were doing well in exams were mostly library-dwellers who could explain in great detail the pathophysiology of various diseases and perform systematic physical examinations flawlessly. they studied hard, practiced hard, watched one less movie than the general population and their hard work always paid off at the end of the year.

i started to think that it wasn't such a big deal being a medical student or a doctor anymore. after all, anyone can study medicine, no?

then, i went to clinical school and the word "hardworking" took on a whole new meaning.

it was no longer just about studying every night after a long day of ward work and classes. it wasn't even about how much time one spent in the hospital. although we still have exams to pass, our training isn't limited to doing enough to get the mbbs and attach a cool prefix to our names.

being hardworking meant having the perseverance, determination and, above all else, the heart to make medicine a life-long career.

last night, i saja went to check out which post-grad qualifications i would need in order to register as a specialist in malaysia. i was mostly looking for overseas programs i could apply to and later return to fulfill my services to the country.

what i found kinda freaked me out. entrance exams. qualification exams. minimum work requirements. necessary documents to present. letters of recommendation. supervised work. recognised hospitals. job applications. examination fees. training program fees. manymanymanymanymany years.

i knew from the day i realised i was gonna graduate with a local degree that the road to becoming a specialist isn't gonna be easy, even more so if i intend to do part of my training in a different country. all the same, i hyperventilated at the thought of all the years ahead and the countless obstacles that would come my way. family issues. financial issues (not cheap ok!). personal issues. sigh.

of course, anyone reading this would say, "why worry about this now? concentrate on graduating first!" but as a friend told me last night when i divulged my anxiety to him, we like to think we have 'control' over our future by trying to see as far down the path as possible.

in a way, my friend who told me that anyone can study medicine is right. it's true - anyone can slog through medical school and graduate.

but not everyone can successfully make medicine a career. not just anyone can be the kind of doctor that deserves the respect doctors, regardless of the bashing in newspapers today, still get from the general population.

i guess i hyperventilated at the thought of all the trials that stand in the way of my dream to become a psychiatrist/internist/paediatrician (i haven't decided yet!) because right now, at this point of time, i have doubts about my tenacity to make it through and not emerge half-beaten, near-dead or exhausted beyond repair.

perhaps i really should just focus on short-term goals like passing my upcoming finals (3.5 months to go! aargh!) and not waste calories by typing long, long blog posts during my lunch break. sigh. should i take amc or mrcp? okok i'll stop now.

lishun at 6:42 AM