Year-end exam galore…

We only have less than three weeks before the school year ends. As much as I want to celebrate the feat of staying sane up to this point, the biggest hurdle for this year is still yet to come. We are all white-knuckled for the upcoming two-week major examathon which includes our 4th shifting tests and the cover-to-cover final exams.

This is a very crucial period for most students, including myself, and I feel the need to be constantly reminded of how these exams could change everything for us (throw us to 80s or drown us with 74s). I must admit that the biggest driving force for me at this point is my grades. It is completely understandable, I think. But I also know that there is a bigger purpose behind this. After all, these tests are here not just to assess the technicalities that we’ve memorized through our books (Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s just about that. ;)) but also to evaluate how well we’ve grown as learners. This is a checkpoint, a safety precaution, a chance to look at how far we’ve come and to ponder on how far we still have to go (Oooh, pathways, lots and lots of them with more to come). Let’s just make the most out of this experience.

Read and recall and read and recall…and don’t forget to flex those hands and fingers; shading hundreds of items on scantrons could be an endeavor, too. 😀

 O well, it’s time to hit the books once more. Cheers to all of us!

Cyber Library

Blog

I have seven open PDF documents and five browser tabs on my desktop, each one of them I’ve been trying to peruse for hours just so I’d have something to present in our class tomorrow.

I wonder how medical students half a century ago did their version of such research.

(Oh, I won’t go too far, I wonder, and sincerely at that, how Doc Es prepared for seminar reports when he was a student.) 😀

Just ranting.

Reading Berne and Levy offends my eyes;
Reading Snell offends my memory;
Reading Harper’s is just downright offensive at all levels.

It doesn’t help that I have to do all these readings while my younger siblings are enjoying the luxury of justified indolence. Lame.

On a positive note, I really have to catch up and these holidays offer the badly needed time, well, provided I turn down the perpetually tempting Grey’s Anatomy DVDs and 2Fuse. So much for the best of both worlds.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to me.

Quarterlife

I’ve just turned 25 today.

First thing I realized when the clock hit midnight: Things would have been different had I not taken a 4-year rest after college.

At this age, I was supposed to be in my post-grad medical internship. One boards away from being a young hot doctor with sparkly quarter-life sneer, curly hair, and white coat flapping against the wind.

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Someone please remind me to lower my expectations later in life.

Instead, I am in my first year, confused with Cori and Cahill, and still squirming my way out of adjustment phase (plus the  unnecessary thoughts on being a high-risk primigravida by the end of residency).

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Late bloomers’ club

O well, we can’t turn back the time, can we? So, scratch the thought. And besides, the hiatus  has its own advantages:

  1. Gained me the financial aid needed to kick start my medical education;
  2. Inspired my very Ms. Universe-ish responses during the pre-admission interview (to the line of age is just a number);
  3. Busted my wits trying not to be a bum so that I could have no. 1 (Nurses aren’t the most easily employed professionals at that time);
  4. Gave me a taste of monetary compensation for hard work (Ah, old times…and the Christmas bonus);
  5. Instilled in me that despite no. 4, money  is not everything;
  6. Showed me that there’s more to punctuality and responsibility than class attendance;
  7. Shocked me with how not everyone is of the same age as I was, hence no. 8;
  8. Taught me that social skills go beyond group assignments and recess;
  9. Made me realize that age does not readily translate to maturity and vice versa, which leads back to no. 7;
  10. Evaluated and reinforced my virtues;
  11. I can go on…but an optimum list should not exceed 10 items, I think. 🙂

Had I not spent the past years learning matters that a classroom can’t teach, I could now be a number of things: a medical school drop-out who never learned to appreciate the chance given to me, a job hopper who never understood where my heart really lies, or a recklessly shallow intern who cares about nothing but earning my MD at 25.

See? If not for the 4-year gap between college and medschool, things would have been really different. 🙂

Christmas ’13

Dear Jesus,

It’s Christmas.

I’m reading Berne and Levy – or at least I’m trying. Pardon me if I didn’t spare your special day.

This time last year, I had nothing but uncertainty. Today, I have a fighting chance, hence the reading.

Thank you for last year’s Christmas gift.

I’m sure you know what’s on my list for this year.

PS: I’ve been a nice kid. 🙂

Happy Birthday!

Lots of love,

Maris

PLM-CM Interview

It was such a relief. I don’t know about the result but for the experience, I’d say the interview was not as bad as I thought. There were seven of us in the waiting area and I was the fourth to arrive. Before the actual interview, we answered two questionnaires and wrote a 150-word essay on why we should be accepted by PLM. My interviewer was Dra. Rios, if I heard her name correctly. She was nice and friendly, but I honestly think she was a bit out of focus (says the interviewee, LOL). Her phone rang in the middle of the interview, which interrupted her own question. I was so out of my mind I even thought it was my phone (to think that I didn’t even bring my things in the room). The questions were pretty much basic – why medicine, why PLM, why me of all applicants, any applications elsewhere, 10-year objective, specialty of interest, any plans of having my own family soon (did i look that old?), financial support, etc.

She ended the interview by telling me that I’d be contacted for the result, which sounded generic (classic!) for someone who has had previous interview experiences for job posts, only this time it’s not for employment.

The interview is undeniably an essential part of the application. God knows I did my very best to land a good point for myself. I spoke from my heart, and more importantly, I didn’t faint during the process. I’m just so relieved that I managed to get through it relatively sane.

Next up, MCAT.

***Update: (02/09/2014)
Dra. Rio turned out to be the head of Biochemistry Department. Each time I do class reportings with Dra. Rio as the main preceptor, I am reminded of our first meeting, the anniversary of which is just a week away. 🙂

Panalangin

Lord,

Ako po ay kinakabahan. Sadya namang hindi ito maiiwasan. Anong higit na nakatatakot sa bagay na hindi pa batid ng kaalaman. Naniniwala po akong hindi Niyo ako pababayaan, ngunit likas na siguro ang minsan ako ay tablan ng takot – suspense. Ilang araw na lamang, interview na. Sampung araw pagkatapos nun, MCAT na. Ang susunod ay ang paghihintay sa pinakamakupad na araw ng aking buhay, habang kinukumpleto ang iba pang requirements na bukod sa may kamahalan ay labis na matakaw sa panahon – effort! Ito ay sa kabila ng kawalan ng kasiguraduhang ako ay makakapasa.

Ilang ulit ko nang nakita sa aking isip kung anong posible kong maramdaman kapag ako ay natanggap. Ang hindi ko magawang paghandaan ay ang balitang ako ay hindi pinalad – kung sakaling iyon ang naaayon sa Inyong plano.

Ikaw na ang bahala, Lord. Ito ay simula pa lamang. Ilang taon mula ngayon, babalikan ko ang araw na ito. Anu’t ano pa man ang mangyari, alam kong lahat ito ay may dahilan.

Nawa po ay malinaw ko itong maunawaan, sa tamang panahon at sa tamang paraan.

Amen.

Pahabol sulat: Salamat in advance na rin po kung sakali. 😀

Game on!

My MCAT review officially began last night. With the second or maybe third or even fourth-hand books that I bought from Recto, Chemistry opened the curtain. I didn’t cover much but at least I had a jump start. I had measurements and… Well, just measurements and a tad of conversion. I hope to do better tonight which means I have to finish my KGS file as early as possible and start the review before lassitude gets the best of me again. I can’t blame myself. I had a very long day and I needed to rest.

Today is a different story. It’s 9 AM and I better move along.

December 2

I took the NMAT last December 2 and I would know the result before the year ends. I managed to stifle all sorts of feelings for the past week, consciously tugging the rein each and every time my mind soared back to that promising but equally daunting day. Now, I’ve decided that this is a head-on collision that I could not dodge any further. I would go back to those precious hours, not to reprimand myself for each point that I may have lost to time and to lack of knowledge or to worry at how bad-or maybe good-I had made my conjectures, but to take a second look at all the things that I had laid my eyes on but were never really given the justified interpretation primarily due to the overwhelming anxiety that I had at that moment.

The night before:

I was extremely nervous I was on autopilot. I prepared my things and packed my stuff in a knapsack – 2 Mongol pencils, sharpened and capped with improvised paper cover, Notice of Admission, two IDs (PRC license and passport), NMAT Identification form, bank receipt, wallet, and jacket. Yes, I didn’t have an eraser. I thought it would prompt my indecisiveness. Of course my pencils had stubby erasers but I vowed never to use unless it was for a frame shift error and not because of a change of heart in my answers. While I was moving around, Justine, my sister was blabbering about whatever it was that she was watching on TV. I think it was Mickey Mouse, or maybe Ben 10, or perhaps Word World – okay, I don’t really remember.  The test was scheduled to start at 8am but all takers were asked to be at the venue not later than 7 am. Estimating my travel time to be 2 hours at most, I figured I need to be out of my bed as early as 4am. I was keen not to oversleep and so, without checking the unread text messages, I set the alarm of my phone – first time in a long while. With all my nerves on fire, I closed my eyes and lulled myself to sleep.  It was past 9.

12 am. I woke up, checked the time, and closed my eyes.

1 am. I tossed and turned. Checked time, tried to go back to sleep.

2 am. I was frustrated. How could time be so slow.

3 am. I decided to end the futile attempt and prepped myself up instead.

The day:

After an hour, I was all dressed up and ready to go. It dawned on me that it was still too early. My daily heroes – tricycle, LRT, jeepney – were nowhere to be found. I had no choice but to wake my poor father up and beg him to drive me to UST. He obliged but not until after another half an hour of his precious “pahabol”  sleep.

While waiting for my father, I devoured the Lucky Me Lomi that Ate Julie Mae, our house helper/baby sitter had cooked for me following my mother’s request. I have yet to thank Mama for being so thoughtful. She was busy with our bakeshop that would open at that hour, but she didn’t fail to realize what I had completely neglected – I had eaten next to nothing the previous night.  After the light breakfast, I tinkered with my netbook and wrote down an entry for my journal, which I failed to save, thanks to my uncooperative battery and nowhere-to-be-seen charger. With the help of JDark Room’s  auto-save, I managed to salvage a bit of it.

We were about to leave when I heard someone call on me, “Ate, san ka punta?” It was Justine. She was halfway the stairs, with her plump diaper and baggy pajamas, slowly working her way to where I was standing. It was a Sunday and it would cause no harm if I tag her along. A few wash here and there with a swift change of clothes, I had my biggest fan with me on my way to one of my biggest tests ever.

In the car, I took out the school map provided by CEM. I had had it for a week but I never really looked at it thinking it would add to my anxiety. I stared at the paper as hard as I could but it bore no fruit. I was overwhelmed by lines and boxes and letters and shades of grey. First thought: O Perceptual Acuity, I’m in the brink of failing you.

I was startled when my father asked, “San tayo? Malaki ang UST.” It was a cue that somehow made me feel better and worse. I was not alone in that test. My parents had their fair share of support. If I fail… No, I better do well, for them. I told him we were off to Gate 1, along Espana Blvd., the entrance nearest AMV Accountancy Building.

The 35 minute-drive was filled with silence interrupted by a few incoherent words, care of my ever verbose sister, which in any ordinary circumstance could have broken the ice if only I was lucid enough to follow through.

The air was crisp and the sky had started to show some shades of white and blue. I stepped out of the car uncertain where to go next. There were groups of people here and there, students or test takers, I really could not tell. With the most cheerful face I could muster, I approached the security guard, “Sir, san po ang accountancy building?”. With his slightly over-animated response, he gladly showed me the way.

I had to walk a good 75-meter distance (or so I think) with a green whiff of air gently blowing against my skin and my rubber shoes letting a soft squeak against the pavement. One thing I learned from a forum in PinoyMD.com was that my building assignment would be near the university car park. The moment I saw a line-up of Vios, Civic, Mazda and God-knows-what-else not too far along, my heart went from a steady walkathon to a fast-paced sprint.

Few seconds more and I could see them – hundreds of aspiring doctors. Some were merrily sharing thoughts with their friends, or maybe new acquaintances, while some were all by themselves, relentlessly rocking their legs or shifting their weight, with their faces at more or less 180 degree angle to their mobile phones, tablets and reviewers. It was a surreal sight to witness.

Just like all the newcomers, I scanned the whole place to find a tiny spot where I can spend the remaining minutes of solitude before the storm. A tree surrounded by concrete benches was straight ahead; that’s where I opted to nurse my growing anxiety. I sat down and let my eyes do more walk. It fell from one face to another. I could see the restlessness. The strain was palpable. What made it even more apparent was the presence of some of the takers’ parents in the area. “Chaperone much.” I told myself. A number of them are dressed well, professionals – maybe even doctors – lending their support to their unico hijo/hija. There was a lump in my throat. One can only take as much pressure.

6am – I had had enough of my ogling delight and I still didn’t know where exactly I should go for the test. I was alone, which was a good thing. I’ve always been audacious when I’m all by myself.

“Miss, ito ba yung AMV Accountancy Building?”  I hesitantly pointed a finger to the 4 or 5-storey structure next to us.

“Oo, 4th floor daw. Nagtanong ako kanina. Anong room ka ba? 422 ako. Anong surname mo?” she blurted in one breath.

Energetic gal.” I told myself. “406 ata ako.”

I didn’t knowingly tuck the room number in my head but I managed to recall it in a snap. Good sign. My mind remembered what’s important.

“Nagreview ka?” she asked.

“Review-reviewhan.” I answered.

tbc……………….

On NMAT, unfinished

2012/12/02 @ 04:46:40 SGT

I had already taken this test a few years back. Not the best result but nonetheless a very good one. Too bad it’s no longer valid, leaving me no other option but to strike another good bargain with my luck. I had been reviewing since the start of November and I choose to believe I had covered most of the necessary topics just so I can minimize my abuse of the epic shotgun shading.

I have a completely different feeling taking the test today compared to what I had when I first took it. First and foremost, the timeframe for the review was pretty cramped up this time. I remember it was September when I registered before and the test schedule was December 8. It was two months of review, not to mention the quality time that I was able to spare back then. This time, I registered late October and started the review on November. I had a month to browse and review the concepts that has been dormant at the back of my head for 3 years now. And take note, I have a full time job that just won’t make it possible for me to do my readings in between breaks. Tough, eh? Also, I had two classmates who took the test with me back in 2008. We had a good time comparing notes and doing knowledge checks. I’d say it was less stressful then. Yes, I was also reviewing for the Nurses’ Licensure Examination that time but it didn’t have much impact on my NMAT review because I was basically in an environment that was never less than conducive for such activities.

This time, ahm, I didn’t even know how to start. I was on my own. That’s it! That’s the best way to put it. It’s all on me and my discipline. I had to manage my time and be efficient in every single moment that I can bury my nose in my books. The good thing was that I had the aid of the Internet that I didn’t have before. If I can’t find it in the book, Google it up and lo and behold, I have just what I need. The main downside is the unarguable temptation to browse through non-related sites such as the all-time bad influence – Facebook and Papa Chen, a TV series that I just can’t keep off my system. Well, I guess I need a few minutes to breath, I just had to know when to stop and resume to work.

Sleep deprivation has been a constant company nowadays.