Med School Stories

Goodbye, Med School

As usual, I’ve been back-reading my blog recently. I was trying to look back at my med school journey, and I found this nice nostalgic entry.

It must be said though, that even if this was never my dream, this is at least my choice.

I’m choosing to surrender the supposed best years of my youth to big books and humbling hospital experiences.

I’m choosing to challenge myself physically and mentally, like I’ve never done before.

I’m choosing this because I know that when I get out it (and I will, just as others before me have), I will have no regrets.

Read whole post by clicking here: “Ambition” (May 25, 2012)

That was fast. My med school career is really over.

Aura MD

Med school in a nutshell.

First year was the most difficult. The pressure, the anxiety, the adjustments, and the unending feeling that we’re not in it too deep yet and we could still quit. But I didn’t quit! In the end, I surprised myself. Kaya ko pala. 

Second year was the most impossible. The topics covered in exams were unbelievably long. We would plot our exam schedules and dread incoming hell weeks. I told myself I didn’t need any more pressure. I just did my best – which meant I had to choose my battles.

Third year was the most interesting. Finally, we started to feel like we were doing real doctor stuff, even just on pen and paper. I remember studying out until 3 am, going home to take a bath and sleep for 1-2 hours, then waking up already wearing our uniform, (still not) ready for the 7 am test.

Clerkship was the best. Period. I say hold it out for the first three years because the goal is to have the best year ever in clerkship. It’s worth it!

So dear med students, this is what I learned. Med school will be tough, but don’t underestimate yourself. When things get tougher, and yes they will, just learn to choose your battles. In every situation, learn as much as you can. And know, that you are going through all this because one day, people will trust you with their lives.

What’s next for me?

Starting July 2016, I will go back to my hospital duties, but this time as a Post-Graduate Intern. As early as now, I am already excited! Hahaha! Kairita na ba?

I keep on thinking it will be the year that I get to teach clerks and guide them with their tasks, the way our interns did the same for us. More importantly, I can finally focus more on learning about patient management, the way real doctors do it.

And of course, find a way to be proactive in preparing for the biggest exam of my life – the Physician Licensure Exam in 2017.

Damn girl, what did you get yourself into..

Ilustrado Restaurant Intramuros

Celebratory lunch with family at Ilustrado Restaurant in Intramuros after our hooding ceremonies.


Done with Compre, aka The Last Time I’ll Ever Study For Med School!

Disclaimer: I was supposed to publish this post in February. Woops.

I am back! The past weekends I’ve been MIA have been spent studying for our comprehensive exams, which involved all our med school subjects since day one. Sounds incredulous, but after all the anxiety, it’s over! I am done!

compre pass all

List of students who passed the comprehensive exams. No more take two! I made it!

No humble bragging here. Real talk only. LOL. Even though I know I’m not the smartest nor the most disciplined student in my batch, I was still able to achieve the “all-pass” on the first round. The secret, now that I think about it, was not my mind, but my mindset.

I stuck with my one and only mantra –  “Pass all is possible!” Yes, I bravely declared from the start that I will pass all my subjects in one take, and that made all the difference. All my actions seemed to be motivated by that. But if you came here for actual tips, read on.

When Should You Start Reviewing?

Some will tell you to study during your benign rotations like Minors and Family Med. But really, what if like me, those rotations happen at the start of clerkship year? No use reviewing that early. What you can do early on is to collect and organize your study materials like old notes and sample exams, because again – real talk only!

It was already the last week of December when I realized I needed a strategy. I know that there was no way I’ll be able to read through all my class transcriptions or textbooks, so I relied heavily on review books and my own personal notes during med school. Just the same, I still knew I would never be able to finish reviewing the whole coverage, so I had to focus on the high-yield topics.

This is where my Coreon study group comes in! Hello, my favorite classmates to study with. 🙂

Motivated by this group to study study study! Thank you classmates :)

Motivated by this group to study study study! Thank you classmates 🙂 Birdy, Karen, Hazel, Pesky, myself, Bev, Krish, and Noe. Surviving on energy drinks because it was almost 1 AM but we had to keep going.

What is the best studying strategy?

Our group studying strategy was simple, and now I wish I had done this with them in all our previous exams during med school.

What we did was first, to study by ourselves on separate tables the whole day. We exchanged reviewers and notes and took study breaks together. By around 10 PM, we were ready to answer the sample questions and previous exams as a group. We studied the questions AND choices, ruling out the wrong ones before finalizing which one was the correct answer. This worked because we were able to determine which topics were high-yield and needed solid memorization, because most questions revolved around them.

Huhu, I really wish I did this group study thing while I was in med school. Oh well, there’s still the board exams!

What were the actual exams like?

Anyway, during the actual exams, I kind of had an idea which ones I would likely pass, and which ones I had to be nervous about. For example, we all thought none of us were prepared to take the Micro/Para exam, because hello at the crazy-long coverage, but we all passed it!

A lot of questions in Surgery, Internal Medicine, and Family and Community Medicine focused on patient management. I smiled every time I knew the correct answer not because of what I studied but because of what I experienced during my clinical rotations. In fairness!!! I love you my residents and senior interns and nurses. Thank you very much. 🙂

As for Physiology, Biochem, and Pharmacology – I found those exams impossibly difficult. Either we weren’t able to discuss those as a group or the things we discussed DID NOT come up. In my mind, “WTF are these questions.. This exam is too difficult..” I even started memorizing some questions in case they came up on the second take.

But then I remembered – SECOND TAKE? No.

I remembered my earlier decision that I will pass all my exams no matter what. And despite myself taking a nap every ten or so questions, I still had time to review. And so I “took” the exam again, read through the questions with a fresh mind, and prayed over every prior answer I changed or did not change. And then I prayed again and again after the exams and before the results were posted.

Pass all is possible, indeed. Kung kaya nila, kaya ko rin. At kung kaya ko, kaya niyo rin. It’s all in the mindset!

And that was the last time I ever studied for med school. I know, I know. Medicine is a life-long learning career. But still – WOW. That’s it for my life as a med student!

Final Thoughts on Third Year Med

I am done with 3rd year med school! After enduring two weeks of shifting and final exams fueled by naps, caffeine, and the strong desire to just get it all over with – I made it!

Break time! Sharing one apple pie ala mode at 2 am during one of our study night-outs.

Break time! Sharing one apple pie ala mode at 2 am during one of our study night-outs.

A few days ago, the list of third year students promoted to clerkship was posted. To those wondering, clerkship is equivalent to junior internship. Click here to understand the steps better.

Congratulations to everyone!

Congratulations to everyone!

Some survived third year like a consistent and disciplined marathoner, while for some, it required a last-minute all-or-nothing power sprint. For me, it had been both.

While I maintain that third year is my best year in terms of learning (I am amazed at my new-found basic command of the medical language), I know I could have given more in terms of discipline. I can pinpoint all those times I missed a 7 am short quiz, and how that drastically pulled my grades down. That, plus I played the Kardashian Hollywood game all throughout third shifting exam week. Regrets.

Now I know. High grades do not reflect learning; but rather, high grades reflect high standards, and the dedication to meet them. I salute my classmates for being brave enough to aim for the top, and for working hard to get there.

That said, another thing I learned is that we all have different standards in terms of grades. It is a personal decision – one you must set if you want to compete with no one else but yourself. Therefore, you can’t hate on someone for being disappointed with an 84, when you were already a dog with two tails with your 75. We all have our own struggles, and you can’t put others down if their standards are higher or lower than yours. 

As for me, my only goal since day one has been to simply maintain my scholarship / category 2 status. I am happy to announce that I made it happen all throughout med school! YAHHHOOOO! It’s not impossible, as long as your are steadfast in your goal and you surround yourself with like-minded people.


Studying with some of my favorite classmates – all smart, hardworking, and positive people. 😀

OMMC Clerk in exactly 7 days,
Aura 🙂

How Are You?


This is to me, my pre-lecture + post-meal dependence on cheap 3-in-1 coffee, and my forced ability to get by with just 90 minutes of sleep for days on end.

Ako? Eto, fighter pa rin!

No Pressure

Warning: This is a very personal entry. I’ll be talking about my grades and look like a very grade-conscious person. Hahaha!

In first year, I only had one goal – to maintain my scholarship status. The cut-off grade is a GPA of 2.5 (79-80), so I made sure I got at least 80 in all of my exams – even the surprise short quizzes! In one major subject, I always got shifting grades like 79.7 or 79.9, which sometimes hurt my self-esteem when it shouldn’t have.

All that pressure paid off as I somehow ended up in the top ten at the end of the year. (Operative word is somehow – as in CHAMBA lang talaga yun.)

In second year, I thought I needed to level up my goal, which is to maintain my top ten status. I tried at first, but eventually the transcription notes got thicker (30 pages per lecture), the exams piled up (four in a week), and I got lazy. 2nd year was a total info overload; and my mantra was always to “know how to choose my battles.”

I did. I studied what I had to and what I could, but never felt bad if I missed a few questions which are considered “unimportant” in my book. In the end, my high scores meant I simply studied the right material, while my low scores meant I had no more time to look back at my notes before they gave out the questionnaires.

That’s what I kept telling myself, which is not exactly good. I failed to recognize two important things to get to the top – extreme discipline and a competitive side. I lacked both, pushing me 9 slots down at the end of 2nd year.

3rd year so far is a whole other story. We cram through our transcription notes for our daily quizzes, spend the night on our laptops writing papers and preparing reports,  and barely have time to actually open our books for our exams. It’s hard and it comes with physical, mental, and emotional stress – but I love it. I feel like this is exactly the kind of environment that fosters both independent and cooperative learning, as well as integration and application.

Me at the library. Supposedly studying, but really just talking to my best friends through Viber. Haha.

Me at the library. Supposedly studying, but really just talking to my best friends through Viber. Haha.

That said, I have three new goals before I finally head off to junior internship.
1. Learn as much as I can, whether my exam scores reflect it or not.
2. Never cry, even if I get unjustly humiliated.
3. Improve my muscle mass and endurance, starting with my brand new stability running shoes. 🙂

Let’s keep it positive. Med school is hard enough as it is – no need for extra pressure.


First Shifting Exam Week 3rd Year Edition

I’ve been putting off writing because I want to dedicate a good amount of time in crafting a nice piece – mostly about how I’m loving third year med so far – but that would take a good hour or two. And I don’t have a good hour or two. All I have is this idle ten or so minutes, while my transes are printing, and while I’m preparing myself for a long night ahead.

It’s the first shifting exam week this year. Remember a similar post when I was a first year?

We took our first two exams today – Pediatrics in the morning, and Gynecology right after lunch. Crazy how we were welcomed into this long week with approximately 200 case-based questions. We may not have expected it, but we weren’t surprised either. We are third years after all. At this level, we should have less of memorizing fleeting details, and more of taking fundamental concepts and applying them – even just on pen and paper (for now).

I admit it was tiring to read longer questions than usual, and I found myself either sleeping, doodling, or singing (yes) from time to time – but deep inside, I think that those were two of the best exams I’ve ever taken.

Much respect for our professors who give quality lectures and quality questions. Thank you for preparing us this way.

A sample of our class transcription notes. Each group is assigned to make a digital copy of the notes from that day's lecture.

A sample of our class transcription notes. Each group is assigned to make a digital copy of the notes from that day’s lecture.

Imma go  study again. This is the life.

P.S. Took me almost an hour din to write this. Hahaha.