Friday, February 20, 2009


Right now in the comfort and luxury of my home, I can sit back and reminsce the days when I was a half petrified half, half excited first year medical student. I recall the first day of orientation at IMU, where approximately 220 eager, enthusiastic, fresh faced medical students stood in front of the stage that faced the luminous auditorium and posed for a class photo. I gurantee that on that day, a lot of thoughts and emotions were racing through our minds; some filled with pessimism and dread of a new course that has been notoriously known to involve endless hours of labourious self-study, discipline, perserverance and the never-ending quest for medical knowledge. Others were more optimistic and perhaps some were already envisioning themselves as full-fledged doctors. Nevertheless, we were basically thrown into the UNKNOWN.

Soon, the months started to fly by as swiftly as the sands of time and we became bombarded with a tremendous amount of information to absorb that consisted of anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and microbiology. We were cracking under the pressure and this was easily demonstrated on our sleep derived places, jittery hands due to the high intake of caffeine from countless cups of coffee during the midnight study sessions and constant irratability. If this was just the pre-clinical years, how can we possibly fare during the clinical years? Some of us were already having second thoughts about this course and were contemplating of switching to an easier and less demanding one. We faced our first exam with our hearts pounding in anticipation and crossed our fingers and prayed for the best. When the results were finally released, the majority of were delighted...WE HAD PASSED! Unfortunately there were a small batch of us who were not so 'truimphant and victorious' and either dropped out, fell a year behind or thankfully passed the second time round.

This continued on for the next 5 years and examinations became second nature to us. These continuous assessments seemed to increase in level of difficulty as each year progressed as well as required constant revising of earlier topics that were long forgotten. I think our minds became OVERSATURATED with the humongous amount of 'neccessary' information that needed to be read, revised and regurgitated. Furthermore, the clinical years were entirely more challenging and brought about a new and different perspective in the field of medicine for us. Not only did we have to decipher what was in the textbooks and lectures, we had to apply our knowledge to each individual patient. We soon learnt that not everything that appears in the textbooks was so adequately demonstrated in 'real life' and we were constantly puzzled by the overlapping diseases in the same patient. The majority of our consultants and lecturers provided guidance to help us decode our 'medical mysteries' but a large part still waned heavily on us. We needed the motivation, the desire and the dilligence to slave away hours at home revising the new material learnt or at the hospital chasing after keen consultants willing to lend a hand. We sacrificed much of our own personal time that included friend's and family's gatherings, leisure activities and possibly even our own vital needs and we became (and still are) physically and mentally exhausted. MORE LATER...

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