Yesterday, I accompanied my aunt at the university cafeteria for some light brunch. While eating and conversing, a common family friend came in and sat at the table next to ours, also to have brunch. We exchanged the usual chit-chat, then resumed our conversation on research and technical writing, my dad, Christmas, and career. Since my aunt had a meeting at 12:00nn (and since we started and finished our meals earlier), we decided to leave our friend. As we passed by our friend’s table, she suddenly called out, “O, ano? Mag-me-medicine na ba yan?” My aunt just laughed. I was not amused, but felt both embarrassed and awkward. I just said, “Ma’am, di ko po kaya and medicine.” “Sus!,” she retorted. “Nursing nga, nakaya mo, doctor pa kaya?” After that seemingly insignificant incident, we just walked out of the cafeteria, smiling. I wasn’t actually smiling—I just put on a clown’s face and lost myself in my own thoughts.
Don’t you just hate it when people pressure you to take up medicine? Why, after graduating, I started getting suggestions from a lot of relatives and friends, asking me when I would continue my studies to the medical profession! Actually, even before I took up nursing, everyone was already commenting that I should take up medicine because accordingly, it suited me! Yeah, right! Do they really think that having an “MD” attached before your name would appeal to me? It’s just a title. Oh sure, you get to help people—the sick, to be exact—but this is not the particular way that I would like to employ when doing charity work. There are other ways—but I definitely wouldn’t think of being a doctor. It limits your scope. I actually want to reach out, not just to the sick, but to the healthy as well.
“The thought once crossed my mind,” I told my aunt later. “Actually, my dad also wanted me to take up medicine, but after knowing that it took PhP50,000.00 per semester for a period of six years, he developed misgivings on it.” It is essential to note that the stated semestral cost of taking up medicine here in the Philippines was that of four years ago. Now, I think the total medical school fees have risen to PhP80,000.00-PhP120,000.00. Reminder: That’s for every semester. Over a six year period. Go do the math.
That’s one thing people don’t understand. Striving to be a doctor, like any other high-end profession, requires money. Lots and lots of it. It’s actually been turned into a business—universities here and there offer medical studies and demand shocking payments in return for a diploma and certificates. Aside from the money constraints, taking up medicine will eat up a lot of your time. People just don’t realize that medical students spend most of their young adult lives in the classroom, the clinic, the hospital, and in outreach programs. They spend countless hours in clinical duties. Sure, these duties may be in shifting schedules, but they can incur double or even triple shifts. Take cousin Raymund. After taking up B.S. Biology as a pre-medical course, he went on to study general medicine. It took him six years of studies and duties to finish the program. Afterwards, he had to review for the medical licensing examinations. If I’m not mistaken, licensing examinations for medical practitioners take five days! Whew! During all that time, you never saw kuya Raymund, right? He was always busy. Is that what you want to do? And don’t forget—it’s a highly technical area of study! Would you like to spend your 20 something years memorizing human diseases and pathology? All those essential drugs, their indications, contraindications, pharmacokinetics, side effects, adverse effects, dosages, and frequencies? How about their generic names & local and international brand names?
That’s right! You already have a substantial amount of medical knowledge like human anatomy and physiology, basic pharmacology, and biochemistry. Look for other areas to study!!!
“Kulang nga eh yung 50,000. Tumaas na ngayon,” observed my aunt. I asked, “Six years ba yung kinuha ni kuya Raymund?” Kuya Raymund is her second son. “Oo,” she said. “Ang tagal,” I replied. “Oo nga eh.”
Ayoko ng ganun katagal. I couldn’t stand it. Or can I? Hmm… If I did take up medicine, what area would I specialize in? Pediatrics is definitely out—I’m bad with kids. General practice is okay, but I really prefer a specialization. Obstetrics? Nah, they probably wouldn’t let me—since I’m a guy, they would think I’m only in it for ogling and female genitalia handling. It’s actually one of the easiest ways of collecting sexual harassment records. Geriatrics kind of appeals to me—I love being around the company of the elderly. Hey, how about being a surgeon? Yeah! Surgery is a very exciting field! Maybe cranial and spinal surgery. I still want to see an actual spinal cord—my instructors once said that it’s a beautiful human organ—the smoothness, the length, and its silvery-white color.
“Kaya nga po, auntie, ‘wag nalang,” I added as we said our goodbyes and parted ways.