winter is coming

these are my favorite speeches by those who have already filed their certificates of candicacy this week for the upcoming elections next year. if these presidential candidates become successful, i think this country can be great again.

Pacheco promises US annexation & legalization of the four seasons.

Kang becomes teary eyed following her CoC filing for the presidency.

dream, fate, choice

it is humbling to look back once in a while, wanting to find meaning for the journey ahead, & seeing how far you've come.

it is always a grateful thing to have a choice - not many people have it. no, seriously, having a choice is probably a good barometer of how lucky you are. you are better off than 50% (safe estimate) of the world's seven billion inhabitants.

now armed with a choice, you have to fight for what you want to happen versus what is expected by others. it is difficult, no doubt, especially if you wish to please everyone - you can't. it's like being a slave to everyone's wishes.

everyone's read through this script before, and it's sad if the story ends in bitterness & indifference - the character lacks passion; the plot loses its heart. true, the world has survived centuries of compromises, but have we as its citizens made the correct ones? there are a few times that we have to cease the struggle and let go. then, there are times when one must take a stand for the sake of one's dignity.

the way i see it, there is a choice between the low lying fruit & the stars. one can choose to dream bigger than one's self - or there's always an easy route. ironically, robert frost never gave conclusive evidence for the best path - well thanks for the help mate. in the end, the choice is up to us.

lao tzu once said, nature does not hurry, but everything is accomplished. well at least this ancient chinese guy sounds both poetic AND comforting.

maybe that's all we need: to take a step back, & know that we are where we are now because of two universal things: fate, and choice.

best (and likely the safest) advice to give? padayon (go forward)

reading club sa bangketa

today i was reminded of the little library that propped up along the corner of balagtas & archimedes streets in barangay la paz, makati.

it's called the reading club 2000. it serves street children & other youths who do not have the capability to buy their own books. so the owner decided to open the library to anyone, including renting a book, for free!

it was not far from our place then. i had to move out & i had 3 boxfuls of books that i won't need anymore (or so i thought).

i donated one box containing my old harrisons IM, robbins patho, williams OB, saddock & saddock psych, among other medical texts. the owner of the place wasn't available then so i just left them outside. i wonder if the owner got hold of the books or someone got onto them first?

i just felt sad that the place is almost rundown & dilapidated. i presumed the electricity went bust - there was a meralco bill tacked on one of the shelves that had a disconnection warning dated a month prior. more importantly, i saw some books that were not dusted & will most probably start decaying if not attended to.

one lesson i learned from this experience: it's difficult to run a charitable NGO, but i truly admire the initiative.

residency choices part2

i visited the university of virginia website, again, 2 years after i first posted about it, prior to unimaginable slavery at the hospital (in this blog post).

i've compared the results between the two, and it manifests how i see myself in the future (not so good i reckon). it made me realize how stoic i've become in terms of compassion (the hospital has drained almost every pinch left in my system).

more than ever, i need to make a decision in a couple of months as to which specialty to take, and stick to it until I DIE (yes, it's much like lawyering, or CPAing, or engineering, or architecting - you do it for the rest of your life, and you will be defined by other people with how well you perform your job).

as they say, time to burn all the ships.

road to boards

it's almost the hundredth day before the physician licensure exam (also lovingly known as the boards for us concerned), and emotions are running high. the increase in enrolment rates in review schools is partly fueled by the lack of intellectual stimulus during the greater part of the last three years, when the young ones are primarily doing patient-facing work, and largely thanks to shared anxieties of personal inadequacy, ignorance or utter helplessness.

i've taken some simulation tests in recent days, but not related to the medical boards at all, and the results do not bode well for my aim. for starters, my simulated gmat score, while perfectly admissible to wharton, darden or kellogg, is personally disappointing and demonstrates lack of preparedness (which is true! i have intermittent hospital duties as my valid alibi). more importantly, why the heck am i dabbling with gmat when i should focus on board-related topics. quantitative and verbal tests are definitely NOT on the physician licensure exam.

thus, in memoriam of days squandered to laziness and renderred to waste, i write this fitting eulogy, with emphasis on my increasing levels of anxiety. unlike before when i shunned the generous offers of topnotch, cracking d' boards, and ust review, i am now seriously feeling an ounce of regret (although the 20,000 pesos that my parents saved is a consoling factor, to my ego at least).

here's to wandering souls like me, left basically alone to tackle this tall order, and i hope the up-pgh review tests can supplement whatever i can muster from reading review books.

100 days. here we go.

soul refuge

i went this afternoon at our local parish to hear Mass, probably the first since Lent started last Ash Wednesday.

i asked God something personal, and he replied, "minamahal kita. sasamahan kita saan ka man magpunta" (i love you. i will be with you wherever you go)
i felt warm. i almost cried.

choosing residency

i have been putting much of my lull time, in between hospital duties, into a meditative state concerning the biggest decision a medical intern has to make: which specialist residency to apply for, if at all.

i'm not saying i've already figured out mine; no, far from that. obviously, my time to decide is several months away, six to be exact, and now that we still have the choice to back out, our brains tend not to commit to anything specific: "basta hindi surgical", "ayaw ko ng on-call", "yung makakauwi ako ng probinsya".

it's cool to not commit for now; i'm not at that stage yet. residency is much like marriage, and a resident is marrying that specialty for life. some marriages that have been rushed end up getting divorced; a waste of time and effort, but some life lessons are learned the hard way. the other side of the coin also tells us that some rushed marriages actually last a lifetime, having learned to cope and live happily with the situation.

alternately i also have a question at the back of my head, if i should enter residency immediately. i had a talk with several first year residents in IM, fammed, pedia, as well as several moonlighters, and they unanimously agree to taking a year off if one is not yet decided. i tell them agreeably, "yes, why not?" but the caveat is, as one fammed resident puts it, "plan your year off ahead".

i know quite a number of MD friends who took alternate career paths, mostly as doctors to rural areas where health care is sparse, but the pay is great (50-60K/month). only a few went to research and academia, where money is difficult to come by (20-40K/month, depending on the work involved). the rest of #teamyearoff got into moonlighting in different private hospitals and clinics, some earning modest sums for purely clinical work (20-40K/mo largely depending on how often you go on duty), while others, i heard, got ridiculously large sums (upwards 100K a month). for some, money will look like a superficial endeavor to pursue, but for many pragmatics, it does help pay off bills if you earn the most while doing honest work.

another difficult question for some would be where to apply for residency. some friends will give automatic answers, "best training hospital i know", "volume of patients seen", "learning to deal with low-resource settings", "uptodate world-class facilities", "best consultants on board", "nearest to home". others have deeper reasons, such as wanting to practice in a specific private hospital, and doing residency there already gives them the edge. still, others are wary of admissions committee bias, especially since these resident trainees will soon be future competitors in the geog after they successfully graduate residency (e.g., hospitals in cebu and davao).

the most difficult question by far, after choosing which specialty over all others, is the constant re-assessment you ask yourself, "why pursue this road i'm taking?"

choosing residency, or an alternate career path, is a hard decision, but it must be something you like, to a fault actually, something that neither your friends or parents would understand. well maybe, you hate some parts about it, surely (who likes scut work, really), but there should be at least some aspect about it that makes you want to accomplish it to the end.

truthfully i haven't figured out mine yet, and my deadline is still six months away, but i crossed out a lot of differentials now, and that's a start.