ASMPH MD/MBA: 3 Modules In

Finding the time to write is difficult when life itself outpaces the speed of my thoughts. But this last week’s dermatology submodule gave us all in YL5 some much needed respite, so I think I can try my hands at updating this blog.

Also, we’ll be properly dissecting our cadavers tomorrow, and that means I’ll soon be drowning in MSK and gross anatomy. In fact, I should be studying Moore or Netter right now. I miss the days when I could frequently produce poems and essays and travel posts (–speaking of, I have yet to make any progress in my Australia and Thailand journals).

But here is an update anyway. It’s been in the burner long enough.

Five Things ASMPH Made Me Realize (So Far)

After three modules and some change –Principles and Perspectives, Cell, Hematology and Immunology, and the Integumentary portion of MSK Integ– I feel like I’ve lived and learned a little more (despite my best attempts at ghosting*). And here are the things I learned. In a certain fashion.

#1. Remember your roots.

Firstly, the news of a lifetime. After a shameful X number of years, I finally showed up to a high school reunion/hang out event.

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HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUNA! I still remember vividly how we’d both sleep in class, yet magically I had Math notes that you’d borrow. (c) B
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I’m kind of proud that M and I are 100% sober. We are such good kids. Though apparently she’s the best good kid. (c) B

It’s strange to think that these were the people who were with me for days on end, during two of the most formative years of my life. We used to eat, breathe, think and relax together (though we have a bad track record with the relaxation part). And now we’re living different lives, going onto drastically different paths.

I digress.

But what I did realize was how important my loved ones are. When I first entered med school, people would say how essential having a support system is. It really is true. My friends were a breath of fresh air amidst the confusion of adjusting to med school. They were comfortable, and loving, and warm. They knew me before, and they know me now. And I’m so thankful for their existence.

The same goes with family. Every weekend I go home — even if it’s not always 100% perfect in Paranaque– is a weekend I get to spend comfortably and without burdens. They may not understand med school, but they (mostly) understand me. And that can be enough.

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Perks of having a sister who works only a few blocks away! Free company for dinner. (Not free dinner lol).

#2. There’s always tomorrow.

At every stage of your life, you think: this is it. Nothing could ever be more fucked up than this. I’ve experienced varying forms of FUBAR throughout high school, only to realize in college how petty those concerns were. And now, in med school, I’m reevaluating every concern I’ve ever had in tertiary education.

Because now, med school –at least, ASMPH– demands us to prepare for an exam every 1.5 weeks. That’s 2 out of 4 weekends consumed by studying, without the simple pleasure of saying sa Monday ko na lang iisipin. You can’t procrastinate. Or if you do, it’s not going to lead to anything good**.

I had to level up studying***. While I can’t say I’m the most diligent student, I’m definitely more diligent than I’ve ever been. I have to constantly seek inspiration and motivation.

When the curriculum is modular, like it is in ASMPH, there are no other subjects to distract you (aside from MBA, that is). There are no excuses.

What’s even more nerve-wracking is the thought that YL6, and YL7… and up to internship and residency and specialization, are all going to be more difficult. The ante will always be upped.

There’s always tomorrow” was a mantra I told myself during one of the defining moments of my first month (?) in med school: I missed a major exam. That’s right. I missed the first exam for the Cell module. It was a very traumatic experience, especially because I totally did not see it coming.

Condensed and non-crying version: The exam was set at 8am, I arrived at 8:33 due to traffic. Following a rule I (or anyone else) didn’t know about, I was 3 minutes late to the grace period for exam-taking. I was devastated.

After an emotional scene in the bathroom later, I had to pull my big girl white pants up because I could still make it to the lab exam. And then I had to keep pulling myself together because I could still work at the other Cell exams. I may not get a high grade, but I could pass this module. I know it.

Our struggles are always a matter of perspective. Time makes all things simple. But what is important to remember is that we survive. And that, regardless of all our pains, we can recover and endure.

#3. Welcome new people and new experiences.

I am the last person to ask about the names of people. I simply cannot remember many of the people I meet. But the ASMPH experience has a way of broadening your network anyway, whether you will it or not.

One of the things I noticed was that people are immeasurably kind. Our seniors from the other year levels are always there, somehow, to give a helping hand or a happy piece of chocolate. They’re really selling the community thing here in ASMPH.

And when it comes to welcoming new people into my life, the phrase “trial by fire” comes to mind. I’ve already gushed about my trans group in my previous post; another group I’ve learned to love is my MBA class. We are joined by mutual hate and frustration. Tomorrow’s another hurdle (my anatomy dissection group!).

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BEST TRANS GROUP! Involving another birthday party. (c) ??

Lastly, welcoming new people also involves rediscovering the people you already knew before. I can count several people in our batch whom I knew during my high school days but never really talked to, and it was an actual goddamn delight to find out they remembered me.

And my friends from UPM Bio are also excessively kind and accommodating. I’m not very keen at making friends, duh, but when I’m feeling more sociable they’re always there. We even went to a KTV earlier to celebrate a birthday.

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HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY L!!! Bio(women) + L’s roommates! I don’t think I’ve ever sung Korean at a KTV before. Plus first time at Metrowalk. (c) L

Not to mention A, who is my roommate, and who has been in my life for over 10 years. Lol. I keep forgetting to dig up old childhood photos, but when I do…

ASMPH is teaching me the good things about life: intense circumstances, kind people, great experiences. 

#4. There’s a reason why you’re here.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget why we do what we do. When you haven’t slept for almost a whole day, or when you’re breaking down comparing your life to your jetsetting friends’… It’s easy to feel lost.

But life has a way of reminding you what’s important. And, cliche as it may sound, service is important. Pursuit of science is important. Responsible practice of medicine is important.

It absolutely floors me to think that one day I’ll be directly handling the fate of a person’s life. And our laboratory and SGD sessions are a good prologue to that. We have slide viewing (beautiful essential-for-foundational-knowledge slides), patient encounters (where we do history-taking and physical examination, and not much else yet) and dissecting cadavers (tomorrow).

It’s easy to find motivation even outside the laboratory. Many of the professors (to name a few: Doc Bruno Mars, Doc Bats, Doc Jojo) insert motivational or strategic points into their lectures. They know what we’re going through, and the way they’re trying their best really comes across.

I also try to motivate myself with art (because there’re very few things as gorgeous as the human body, and the little things that make it up) and also stories about the way medicine and science change lives. Have you heard of ASMPH’s “McGyver” doctor, Mikko Manalastas?

Basically: motivation is everywhere. The world is there to see you succeed. And so on. I don’t want to give up. Don’t give up.

#5. Don’t let go of the other things.

What’s funny is that even with the hectic schedule of med school (see #1!), life doesn’t actually stop. There’s always opportunity to do more, be better.

For several weeks I was amazed at the strong extracurricular culture here in ASMPH. I wondered a lot at the varsities, especially. It was as if there was track practice every week (there probably is…?). The same with basketball and badminton and so on. Other orgs, like ACSIS, were active as well.

I didn’t join an org which reflected two of my chief passions: debate and art. Mostly because there are no orgs for them (yet? The closest was ACSIS). But that didn’t mean I let go of them.

I make art. I still write. It’s a bit harder now, because I simply don’t have the time or the will, yet I’m always on the brink of buying some new art material (I am becoming piss poor). But I try.

For example. (Though does flower collection and pressing count as art? Yes. Yes it does.)

what brings you joy –not amusement or excitement or entertainment, but the unadulterated pleasure of being alive? 🌺🌻 flowers for breakfast 🌼🌹

A photo posted by Jari Monteagudo (@jarimonty) on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:51pm PDT

And then I try to make my notes look as artistic as possible. Well.

And I think lettering great quotes will always motivate me.

I also bought Abbey Sy’s ABCs of Journaling last week! And I’m kind of excited to try some things out. When I have the time.

I still debate. At least twice in this semester I’ve gone back to UP Manila, once to do a sample debate and once again to judge a tryouts round (which is exciting for me, a newly minted alumna). And I still visit Vox and Espresso regularly to get my daily dose of WTF. I try not to participate in discussions in social media, though, for the sake of my sanity.

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I don’t know where all the Circle group photos are, but here’s a pic of me and M! My teammate. …I just realized M and M are both M. Whatever. I am confusing everyone.

But! Even more than that. There’s this event called Interscholastic Medical Debate Championship, and the 6th rendition came around two or three weeks ago. I joined with several of my YL5 batchmates and some seniors. It was an exciting competition with other med schools, hosted by the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges. APMC also hosts a bunch of other competitions, relating to sports and dance and music.

I think what made the competition exciting was the general topic and my level of investment. Every round mattered because the issues reflected the things I’ll be influencing in the future. And the competition was fun. We even won the tournament (though I do admit our contingent had an edge when it came to experience).

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Someday I’ll buy proper shoes to go with my skirts, honestly. It was held in MCU, which was an awesomely big and vintage school.

And going back to the way everyone’s so kind (see #3). In all my debating life, I’ve only seen my face on a tarp once (back in high school, when we won a championship). No one really cared in college. Maybe it’s a catholic school thing? But regardless of the why and the how, we have a tarp with our faces outside the school. Crazy.

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We’re beside an award-winning teacher???

What’s even crazier is that some of our batchmates (and random other schoolmates, I guess) actually watched the videos of the rounds??? Like, who has the time? Who are these people? Why are they so concerned?

(Here’s the video by the way. Forgive the vanity. I rarely have any complete debate videos).

But the support feels really nice. And the ultimate thing I never want to let go of: why I’m here. Always for service and always for the people. I just happen to grow and have fun while I’m at it.


*That is, me trying to live a wallflower life

**Trust me. I just came fresh from a dermatology lab and lec all-nighter. And while I do know I passed, this shit is going to wreck havoc on my youth and health.

***Though naturally I still have my Gudejari moments.

Read more posts about ASMPH!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. jellere says:

    I consider you one of my inspirations to keep the dream of getting an MD alive, you know.

    Before, I visited your site every now and then (pag maalala ko) just to witness an entirely different perspective from mine (at yung kasalukuyang konteksong ginagalawan ko). Also to marvel at your writing, your art, your storytelling. Ang saya basahin, e.

    Anyway, lately, I realize I’ve been slowly letting go of my dream. Parang, nawawalan ng drive? Kasi I know right now hirap na hirap kayo, na maraming kailangang i-level up, etc. to the point na napanghihinaan na rin ako ng loob. Baka di talaga meant for me. Baka may mas kaya akong gawin, mas posibleng ma-achieve. Baka inimpose ko lang sa sarili ko yung nakasanayang pagtitiwala na dito ako tinatawag.

    Pero ayun. Reading your past entries was nice. Parang, breath of fresh air. Hindi ko na madescribe. :)) But! Thank you for still writing. xD Good luck~

    1. Thank you for reading this blog :) I think there’s never really any way to know kung meant to be for you yung isang bagay until you try it. You don’t have to pursue that MD now; a lot of my classmates worked first. But I think you might be surprised to find na worth it ang med school. It’s a difficult adjustment, yes, but the people and the purpose make it worth it talaga. :)

      And don’t worry. You can always find time to pursue other dreams. Yun yung napansin ko dito eh, there’s always energy to do more, kahit akala mo wala na.

      Thank you and good luck as well! :)

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