‘Think thank’     

By: Fatima Ignacio Gimenez - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Philippine Daily Inquirer | May 29,2023 - 07:45 AM

When I grow up …

Do you remember how old you were when this question was first asked about what you wanted to become? I was 5 years old when I said I wanted to be a doctor and never wavered. As to the why? I didn’t have it then but found the answer in my teens. It was pretty straightforward. Being a physician enables one to do a good turn daily just by doing what one has sworn to do.

For those contemplating choosing a path in the health profession, I hope this piece will contribute even just a little to the decision you will eventually make. The immediate goal is to help make that first step more definitive, armed with the needed knowledge that one needs to face.

Specifics. To get that medical degree, you would need a four-year preparatory course followed by five years of medical school that includes clerkship and internship, before being qualified for the licensure exam. After obtaining the license, you have the option to take up residency in a chosen field and then on to fellowship training if you intend to subspecialize. To be certified, in both instances, you have to pass their qualifying exams. Once armed with these, the next step is to decide where to lay down your roots.

For those whose parents have deep pockets and have an existing practice, count yourself fortunate. A majority, however, will have to start from scratch and would be needing to seek part- or even full-time jobs to ensure that they live more than decently, most especially if they intend to raise a family. Let me just throw in an added fact to keep you grounded on expectations. Completion of the aforementioned training sessions is not a guarantee nor an assurance that one will be handed the reins to success. As in all things, you need to work hard or even harder as there is no quick fix or shortcut in the field of medicine. Furthermore, it is very dynamic and one needs to keep abreast. How often have you heard doctors referring to themselves as being a “forever student?” Learning will, and can never stop. How can it be when there is still so much gray than black and white in dealing with how best to save lives?

Having given the specifics which undoubtedly may paint less than a rosy picture far removed from the glamor that you see on TV, given the amount of effort, resources involved, time, and commitment to be invested, most would certainly look the other way. I, for one, would never stand in judgment if you choose to do so. But having pursued and stayed in a profession that is more of a vocation, it would be selfish not to share or not take a shot at making you reconsider the immeasurable benefits it brings.

In the past weeks, I have been privileged to reunite with two former trainees who have come into their own and had taken the time to express their gratitude for pieces of advice that have long been forgotten and unknowingly been given.

One gently reminded me of how I had once told her of the disappointment that I would feel if she never took another chance at taking the certifying exam that she failed on her first try. She happily reported that she had finally earned the diplomate to her name and while waiting had pursued a master’s course. The other, now a young consultant, had recently passed her certifying exam and went on to recount an incident that she would never ever forget, that of me giving her a much-needed boost on one of those rare late-night rounds when she was at her lowest. Hearing them say the very two words that anyone must hold dear brought a certain mistiness and a euphoric high. If I hadn’t chosen to be where I am at, I may have missed these precious moments that serve to teach one a little bit more about life and living, being that this profession is very people-centered. The words “thank you” validate. Spread and be cheerful givers and help keep that tank full.

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