Failure and Medical School

By now, I have failed more exams than what my two hands can count. I have failed quizzes, long exams, and as I am fully aware of by now, three of my subjects. I don't think it is overreacting to describe med as torturous, nakakasabaw ng utak, mentally and physically draining. Shifting week had been studying at the wee hours of the morning, sleeping for about 2-3 hours, crawling to school to take a mind-contorting exam, and repeating the cycle for five days straight. It's plain doomsday if you find yourself having eight hours of solid of sleep. Personally, I knew med school would be physically and mentally demanding, but have not imagined it to be this extent.

I'm not proud to brandish my failures. And I do not mean to make rationalizations either-- that it's always a barrage of quizzes every week, that its difficult, or the passing rate is too high, that there are numerous reportings, requirements for submission, chapters to read, stuff to memorize, research, analyze and a whole mound of other things to do. After all, this is what I signed up for. Nobody said that medicine would be easy or that it would be a jolly, prancing dance in the park. I have accepted from the get go that I have no right to complain, and along with it, is the inevitability of failure.

Overall, I find med a humbling experience. Obssessive-Compulsive overachievers would find their pride skinned with a bread knife. I don't remember the last time I felt this inadequate, and so short of standards required of school. More than that, med has introduced me to gazillion of things I do not understand, I do not know, or not even have the slightest idea about. Consolidation of concepts, pathways, histological and anatomical learnings, is still another story.

I love medicine in that it has awakened me to complexities that are yet to be learned. Yes I may be failing my exams but I know I am slowly growing as a doctor, both in the intellectual and personal sense. I know it may be impossible to understand everything for the moment, like when I resort to memorizing when my brain is blacking out from studying straight. But everyday is just a rich learning experience that no information or realization, regardless of what area or subject, is futile.

PLM's passing rate of 75% may be like walking the plank, especially if you're being fired canon balls of information every day, every week, memorizing anatomical parts, nerves, muscles and an endless list of stuff that may spill off to the next post if don't contain my writing. But really, who wants a doctor who makes mistakes? Med school may be the best for us to commit errors, but its no training ground for us to be error prone either.

Much as I would like to write something buttery, sweet and fluffy about med, I'm afraid there's nothing buttery, sweet or fluffy about it. It may be difficult, but I know it would be worth it when time comes that lives depend on me. Stories of rainbows and butterflies would have to wait. For now I will just have writhe well enough to pass.

(Med School FYI: A shifting period is equivalent to one grading period, think elementary 1st grading, 2nd and so on and so forth)


Miko Li said...

While searching for some infos about NMAT, I actually saw your site. And I found it very helpful because of your tips. I'm a senior BSN student and also a scholar like you. I'll be entering med school by next year and I really wish to get a high NMAT score just like what you had. Hehe!

With regards to your post of "Failure and Medical School", I know for the fact that once I enter med school, I'm signing a contract of LIFETIME LEARNING. Sleep deprivation, loaded activities and stealing your time to go out and socialize are just some of the things that I'm foreseeing. But I'm ready, I'm doing it because of my dream.

Doctors are 'lifetime students'.

Failing gives us the strength and helps us to learn from our mistakes.

I'm really hoping to see more of your blogs. I'm inspired from your writings.

Thank you and goodluck!

Wish me luck for NMAT! lol : ))

Aubrey said...

Amen to lifelong learning Miko! Really one of the things that make med not just a job but a lifetime devotion and commitment. I certainly wish you the best. God Bless :)

Kamil Tibayan said...

i'm not a med student, but a nursing student.. i really admire your blog for a long run already...

recently i had some changes in my life and dropping college is one.

i did not failed, but i had to go abroad and finally be with my mom who is working there..(but i think that's just my alibi)

I had a choice to continue the 1st sem of my last year in college,..

(yes i'm a 4th yr college who dropped out.. questionable? i think so, too.)

i grew tired and lazy.. and looking forward to a flight abroad made it worst..

i was thinking of going back to college somehow, but before i had read your post.. i'm in doubt if i would still have that enthusiasm to continue to study after stopping.. i was thinking of working first.. and help my mom..

but now... i think.. i'm too inspired not to continue.. your a med student and thats a lot heavy than my course... i have no reason to be this lazy... i'm sorry for myself... and greatful to you!! =)


Earl said...

Planning also to proceed to medicine next year. I feel very tired already reading this post but nevertheless, there is something about medicine that even nursing could not grasp.

But for now I'll enjoy my prancing dance in the park! :)

Best to you.

Anonymous said...

I'm really thankful that I came across your site. I was also searching for some info regarding NMAT -- and here I am diggin' your site -- spending almost 2hours reading your blogs. :)
You inspired me to pursue Med. -- 50/50 a while ago. ;) I'm looking forward for more blogs.haha I also found out that you're one of the Top 4 in the last NLE Nov. 2008.

One of my dreams that didn't came true. My fault. :p

P.S. I learned a lot from your blogs. thanks! Godbless

-Eizl, RN 20y/o

zpc said...

Me too. i'm very much in trouble on 2 of my subjects. seriously, i have never felt this much sadness, anger, and happiness regarding my studies; it's as if the primary objective of medschool is not really to test a person's intelligence but to test a person's endurance. In the few months of being in medschool, I have seen more people crying in school than I have seen from elementary to college. :)

Aubrey said...

Amen to that zpc. I remember reading somewhere that med school is not so much for the intelligent as it is for the adaptable.

Let us remain steadfast on our goal of becoming great doctos. We can do this! :)

Aubrey said...

Hi Kamil. I'm so glad I helped you somehow.

For everything that we do, motivation is really the first thing that counts. Back in my Nursing days, not to brag or anything, but I was doing well in school. I had good grades and all but I felt dragging my feet to class everyday. I knew I didn't want to be a nurse and cannot even imagine myself as one. But now, even as the workload is comparably way way beyond what I had before, I am completely enthusiastic with perhaps almost everything. It's hard, yes, but what is hard to someone who motivated right? I hope you can finally begin on your goals and studies. I really wish you all the best. And thank you for reading my entries.

Aubrey said...

Hi Eizl. Thank you thank you for reading! Hope I could post more :D

Anonymous said...

hi. i was just like you three years ago. it was my worse performance in my academic life. fresh from BSN, i underestimated first year proper, thinking that i already took more than half of those subjects. well, i was wrong. but with focus, i managed to get promoted to where i am right now without delays.
indeed, it is a lifelong commitment to learning. i've read from another blog that probably, we, doctors, would read harrison and schwartz in our deathbeds, analyzing the pathophysiology of our own illness. that makes our profession special. learning stops only when brain function ceases.

good luck and enjoy the upcoming med week! btw, we go to the same school.

Aubrey said...

Hi Anonymous. I'm keeping the faith. I know He will not forsake those who call on Him. :) I know that through Him, we will all become great doctors. :) Happy Med Week as well!

Anonymous said...

hi! i really enjoy reading your blog, especially your experience in plm.. i'm hoping to get in there next year.. i would just like to ask aubrey, what are subjects during 1st yr, 1st sem? so that i can prepare myself.

and about to your recent post.. i understand how "bloody" shifting exams are.. my friends who are taking up medicine also share their stories/sentiments to me..

thank you and God Bless!

oh, my name is jam :)

Aubrey said...

Hi Jam. I've mentioned the subjects I'm taking in this post:

Hope to see you in PLM next school year! Have you called the College of Medicine already? :)

Anonymous said...

thanks again aubrey.. some of those subjects are already familiar to me since i had that when i was in college. anyways, actually i haven't done anything yet. i'll take nmat this dec. hmm.. just wondering perhaps, you could give me some advice on what actions i will do, i'm really clueless in regards with plm policies on admission.. hehe!

Anonymous said...

It is my hope that the people in this discussion are motivated by a greater purpose beyond the societal glory of the profession and the promise of financial security. It is not uncommon to see people take on difficult challenges only to falter half-way or not have the satisfaction they had hoped to gain at the end.

And even for those with a "great" purpose, be warned. The profession is shaped by forces beyond your reckoning. You will be tested.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aubrey,

How are the extracurricular activities in PLM? Are there orgs/clubs/med frats or soros to choose from and is being part of such clubs manageable in terms of academics? :)

Also how are the professors?

Anonymous said...

hi aubrey!for months i have been visiting your site. im also a RN from batch 08. i feel bad for wasting three yrs. before entering med.sch.i'm still preparing for the NMAT and if i get lucky, i'd get to study next yr. your posts have been of great help to me. we share the same sentiments, i really want to become a doctor someday. God bless you always. :)

HalfCrazy said...

Like many others who happened to come across your blog, I am an aspiring Med person someday. From your post and from your NMAT score, it must be really hard and stressing being in Med School. I'm a 3rd year BS Psych student and I'm already too stressed. But that's because I really can't take my paws off drinking, friends, and having fun. Maybe I should enjoy it before med school?

Haha okay, I'm talking too much in here. I wonder if you'll ever come back here again, this post is pretty outdated, probably because you're really busy. Haha!

Is there any way I can contact you, YM? You got any YM? I'm a girl by the way so no need to worry about spooky pervs or stalkers. Haha! :) And your school is just a few blocks away from my school. I go to Mapua. :)

Hoping to get in touch with you! Drop a comment on my blog or something if you're available to talk! Just talk about med stuff. Thanks!

Aubrey said...

Hi HalfCrazy :) School is sure keeping me busy these days (thus the lack of new posts). And don't worry you don't look or sound creepy to me. Haha. I rarely go online on YM, but I do check my email often. It's

BTW, My brother goes to MAPUA as well. :)

Anonymous said...

hello ms. aubrey.. im actually applying for med school this year.. im done with my NMAT and thank God i got a grade worthy of UPCM and UST but apparently its too late to apply for UP.. so sad.. anyways, im eyeing PLM as one of the schools i would like to go to.. apparently ur in PLM too right? and i am a bit concerned about the class schedule.. do u have saturday classes in PLM? and how late in the afternoons do u usually get dismissed from class? and how early in the morning to you go to school? im really prepping myself and would like to know these itty bitty details.. thanks!! wish u could respond to this comment soon cause i know ur so really really busy.. ur blog helped me a great deal in passing my nmat.. and this time around.. i need ur experience to help me prep for the actual med experience.. thanks again ms. aubrey..