BACKSTORY: Forgive me for what seemed like a writing hiatus for me. As my previous write-up mentioned, I went through 365 days of clinical clerkship, a 1 year experience for all medical graduates here in the Philippines. And boy, it was one hell of a roller coaster ride! Even after the last day (May 31), I was still pretty much busy making up for my extensions and accomplishing our requirements as well. With such a fast paced life recently, I was unable to do this earlier than planned. And with such busyness I am now writing this after my graduation. It may not feel the same as I’m weeks away from my last duty at the hospital but still; taking stock of the last year of my med school journey and sharing it to the world is a joy!
Clinical clerkship as I said above was one hell of a roller coaster ride. And how could it not be? It had its fair share of highs and lows, an unforgettable experience one would remember by heart but never want to go through again. Looking back, I could only say that I made it, alive and barely breathing, by the grace of God. Were it not for His love expressed in so many ways and through so many people I would have not survived 4th year of medical and graduated yesterday. Because of God, I was able “to surmount 3 mountains”, I had “to conquer 3 Mayon Volcanoes” as Ms. Universe Catriona Gray would put it.
Just like the reigning queen, I had to overcome the many fears that were borne along the way. Mostly, these fears came from within as I had doubts on my capacities to do what was required of me as a clinical clerk. I recall the times where I felt overwhelmed as I learned of the basics in a rotation that felt impossible or the tasks that seemed insurmountable. I even felt more as I saw the flock of patients that needed to be monitored or taken care of in the next 24 hours.
There was also the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of helplessness – of not being able to meet the expectations of my residents or even co-clerks, of failing to do labor watch efficiently leading to a mother delivering her child in a non-sterile environment or simply just losing a young child to a very preventable death but God knows what happened. As I faced the harsh realities of health care in the country, I came to learn and accept some truths that doctors live by daily. Death, compromise, miracles and everything in between.
To add, as this worn-out and weary intern tried to survive the hospital environment, he was also dealing with a lot of personal issues inside. I have to admit my spiritual life suffered a major backlash as I failed to keep up with my daily time with God. Instead of praying or reading my Bible, I opted to just sleep or amuse myself with other things to compensate for the feeling that my life revolved around all things medical. Hence, as a result, I made some foolish and stupid decisions along the way, risking my reputation and prompting me to lose my witness. I came to know more about myself but instead of finding a way out, I found myself drowned in a whirlpool of mistakes and failures. It actually still hurts a bit to recall those bittersweet memories but out of them came lessons for life which I would not take for granted.
But through all the crap I’ve been through, God has been lovingly there, faithful and patient enough, always ready to pick me up. That’s how I got to conquer myself and my fears- with faith. When everything seemed to fall apart, I still saw God with His loving arms spread wide to welcome His wayward and wretched child. I still felt loved even after I forgot and failed my First Love by choosing to love other things or people who could never reciprocate such love.
There were certain times people questioned my strengths or made me feel they were better than me. I was easily taken advantage of or abused for my goodness. And unfortunately, with regards to a failure on my part, I saw myself as a target of gossip and rumors. But you know what? It did not bother me too much as it would. For the first time ever in my life, I felt an emancipation that was so beautiful and meaningful! Despite the backstabbing and pretentions from people, I felt an unconventional peace ‘cause I finally found myself break free from the stereotype that people placed me long before- a good, religious person ‘nga daw santo’ (like a saint) as one fondly said. Finally, people see me as I truly am- a human being who makes wrong choices, someone falling in love with the wrong person that logic could not explain and still choosing to love despite the inevitable consequences. I embraced my humanness this clerkship but did not celebrate it to the point of my destruction! Such acknowledgement only prompted me to seek divine assistance and guidance. So don’t get me wrong (as I expressed in previous posts), I just want to be seen as a work in progress- as God is not finished with His masterpiece.
As I learned to accept myself and make the necessary changes after seeing the need, I conquered others with the wisdom of a few trusted, “unconditional” friends who helped me bear the burdens easily as well with the help of my mentors (my PGIs and my residents). And of course, by coming out of the box I was set in, I conquered what others perceive of me. And thank heavens, it felt like an achievement of a lifetime!
Conquering with a purpose
As one rotation finished after another, the journey became more tiring and more dreadful. It was almost soon until the system could have eaten me. There were times like giving up seemed the only option or to quit is to stay sane but there I was. I endured. I fought on. I still found myself wearing my white uniform, on the way to the ward and taking a deep breath before I get to insert my first IV cannula for the day or make a prescription. How? Why? It all boiled to purpose. A heartfelt and noble purpose. God had to remind me many times of why He called me to this profession- to become His instrument of healing and love to His children. And that meant 365 days of selfless service and compassionate care to patients which preparde me and my batch mates for a lifetime of such!
Clerkship has changed my life, no doubt! Both in good and bad ways. Sometimes, I still wish I could do it differently but here I am, as of this writing, officially a MD GG! A medical doctor by God’s grace! (Still feels surreal…. Somebody pinch me!)
And as I echo Catriona, I may only be one person but now I have the opportunity to serve any of the 104 million Filipinos or maybe even more and beyond!
Inside each and every doctor is a heart willing to serve and make sacrifices. To that end and to yours, here’s to conquering ourselves, conquering other’s perceptions and finally conquering with a purpose!! !