Becoming a Doctor: What Your Parents Didn’t Tell You

Sunday, November 10, 2013 Stef dela Cruz 38 Comments

If you don’t really want to stay up until 5 in the morning caring for patients without pay until your mid-twenties but you’re a medical student anyway, what I have to say is for you. (Oh, and those who made my life in med school a living hell, there’s something in here for you, too.)

Becoming A Doctor

If you force medical education down your own throat, you’re punishing yourself because of the false sense of security you get. As a reluctant med student, you find people who share your predicament, further encouraging your “addiction” to wearing the white coat. A sense of well-being for being a “good son” or “good daughter” keeps your fears and anxieties at bay – that is, until you start getting an emotional cancer. One day, you will ask yourself if giving in to the pressure was worth it.

Yep, being in medical school against your wishes is definitely turning out to be like smoking. And if this sounds all too familiar, then what I have to say is for you.

So, you want to be a doctor?

When I was still in medical school, I really wanted to become a doctor. I wanted to fulfill a dream I’ve had since I was too little to even ride the rollercoaster.

As a kid, I would pretend to be a doctor, using my stuffed toys as my patients. My rainbow teddy bear needed abdominal surgery. My long-limbed monkey had chronic fever. My Barbie doll had an eating disorder. I, on the other hand, was their all-knowing doctor: I had the solution to all their problems.

Through the years, I continued to dream about wearing a white coat. I knew I had what it took to make it. I was smart. I paid little to no tuition in school because I was a perennial scholar. I could grasp the most difficult concepts, from the relationship between gravity and light to the intuitive yet informed nature of diagnosing ailments. I was a whiz at Math and Science. I garnered the highest possible score of 99+ in the National Medical Admissions Test, and despite all my quasi-humble denial in front of my peers, I thought passing all my subjects in medical school was too easy.

Correction: I thought passing all my subjects with flying colors in medical school was too easy.

I barely stayed up late to study in college. Actually, I barely studied at all – and my dorm mates marveled at the fact. I did make some effort to study in medical school, but not nearly enough to make me lose sleep, too.

In a nutshell, I was a bad example of a successful student.

All the while, I thought, “What on earth are they talking about when they say medical school is tough? Why do people always get low NMAT scores? Maybe they’re just not smart enough.”

I know, you probably hate me already. But the story isn’t over. You’ll see soon enough that the world punishes people like me in the hopes that our eyes are opened. And you will see how after we stand corrected, fate gives us better dreams to aspire for.

Med School: No Place for Naiveté

Back then, I was a naïve girl who thought that all I needed to succeed in medical school was to study hard. I had no idea how tough the real world would be. I had no idea I would be bullied – and bullied hard – once I started working with others.

Years after that, I lived to tell the story of how I survived the horrors of medical school. I lived to tell about supposed mentors who screamed in my face for the pettiest reasons.

I lived to tell about residents who reprimanded me for printing documents without permission (which I never did), only for me to find out later that they had mistaken me for another medical intern who had the same name that I did.

It was a case of mistaken identity. And guess what? They never said they were sorry.

I would never have imagined being treated like I was a disposable, good-for-nothing slave. Watching myself crawl through training was like witnessing my greatest downfall.

Ah, yes, how the mighty have fallen! I deserved it. I was pompous and I needed to get my feet back on the ground. But was the abuse by colleagues, verbal and emotional, called for?

I didn’t think so. I thought it was rather unprofessional.

Unfortunately, my story is not unique. Many before me – and many after me – will tell you about the horror story that is med school.

Why Training as a Doctor Sucked for Me

I realized later that being a doctor was not just about being smart. Duh. But stupidly ignorant that I was back then, I thought it was enough. I thought it sufficed that I did want to be a doctor. I thought it was a plus that I could understand chapter after chapter of anatomy and physiology.

Given my rather sheltered and spoiled life as an only child for 13 years, there were practical pointers of life which I was not privy to. For instance, I didn’t know that although it mattered what I knew, it also mattered whom I knew.

Knowing the right people could get you places. That was not unique to health professionals; everywhere you went – whether you were a musician, engineer, teacher, or office employee – if you knew someone who could help you get ahead, you would get ahead.

But hey, I knew nothing about office politics. I thought medicine had nothing to do with politics.

I thought that as long as I knew how to differentiate dementia from delirium and heart attacks from heartburn, I was on the right track.

Boy, was I wrong… and I suffered for my ignorance.

I was unceremoniously thrown out on my ass in more ways than one during residency, something I didn’t foresee. I thought I was doomed; I was a doctor without a specialization, a fact which held a lot of stigma, especially in our country.

Little did I know that I was being spared from a miserable future. After all, I was already flailing (if not failing) in my chosen career.

Thankfully, fate had been kind. Just when I thought every window of opportunity had closed for good, a door opened wide for me. That door led to the world of writing.

Even before I had stuffed toy patients, I was already writing. It was a passion I had before I even dreamed of becoming a doctor.

Every night before I went to sleep, I would thank the heavens that I was scooped out of training and relocated to a place where I could be more “me”. Working with words nurtured every aspect of my being, helping me provide for myself and my family while also giving me back the balance in life I had so missed.

Still a Doctor but Brand New

People now say, “You’re wasting your medical education!” whenever I tell them I write for a living. It’s okay; I understand. They say that only because they don’t know the whole story.

Wasting your medical education means not being able to put it to good use. It means not being able to help people with their questions about health. It means not knowing how to do medical research, verify facts, and sift through hundreds of medical literature to find the ones that provide good evidence. Most importantly, it means not being able to diagnose or treat anyone who comes running to you for help.

I do not feel that I have wasted my medical education at all. If anything, the path I chose saved me from wasting my life. Writing about health, medicine, and the politics of healthcare is something I don’t only do for a living; it’s something I do because I love doing it.

My Message to Future Doctors

  1. I don’t want to scare you into leaving medical school. Helping people by healing them is a noble thing for you to do for the rest of your life. But if you’re in it for the wrong reasons, I want you to think long and hard before you proceed.
  2. Don’t fall prey to higher-ups who abuse their power. Don’t get fooled into thinking it gets easier after graduation. No, it just might not. If anything, it might get harder.
  3. Don’t bully your “underlings”. The people training under you just might overtake you one day and, well, return the favor. Don’t be a bitch; people tend to remember – and people tend to gossip.
  4. Don’t share information about your patients with friends and family. And for the sake of all that’s good and true, don’t take photos of your patients while they’re unconscious on the operating table. No, no, that’s not a photo you should be sharing on Facebook, either.
  5. Don’t forget that if you become a doctor, you will be a doctor for the rest of your life. Whether you choose to practice in a hospital, go into research, build a medical empire, or retire early, you are still a doctor. It’s not just a job; it’s a way of life.
  6. Most importantly, don’t become a doctor just because your parents think it’s a good idea. Although you love them very much, you owe it to yourself to live your dreams, not theirs.

Don’t throw away your future by trading it in for someone else’s.

I don’t care if your parents are rich. Even if you ended up earning lots of money as a doctor, you would always wonder, what if I followed my dream? Sadly, since you didn’t, you would never know.

If you want to become a doctor but for the wrong reasons, don’t be one. Do us all a favor. Correction: Do yourself a favor.

“I might end up loving it anyway” is just a delaying tactic and you know it. “But I have no choice” is just an alibi and you can’t deny it. Don’t delay your misery by hiding behind rationalizations.

If your best friend was being forced to pursue medicine and she told you she wanted out, would you tell her, “You might end up loving it anyway” or “You have no choice”? If these are words you can’t tell someone you care for, then these are words you should never shove down your own throat.

The only valid reason you should be a doctor – and the one true thing that matters if you want to be a good one – is a can’t-be-ignored, my-soul-burns-for-it, I-keep-thinking-about-it calling to be a doctor.

And to all the physicians who gave me a hard time just because they could, thank you for giving me something to write about. It does sadden me, however, that one day, the karmic hands of time will come for you. My prayers are with you and all the doctors-in-training who are still confused, miserable, or outright lost. And believe me when I say I’m not being sarcastic.

Share this with your friends in med school. Share this with your buddies who think they must become doctors, too, just because their parents are. Share this with every doctor-in-training whom you think needs to read this. Be a beacon of truth in their lives.

Go ahead, like my Facebook page. I don’t bite.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She maintains a health column in Health.Care Magazine and a cat welfare column in The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene. Add her to your circles.

38 comments:

  1. Stef is clearly a good human sample of perfect combination of princess dreaming, and educated and brilliant pinoy mind as well.

    She could have even be doctor in previous life , but she is getting better 'talent'': so she is a writer ( kind of french kidding , sorry ;) )

    I keep on thinking be a doctor is a ''bloody ''job,:),at least in France, since 25 years..

    Following or not following our dream: that is not a Shakespeare nightmare question here.

    We can do the medical studies with a first dream, but also we can do it with no dream, it is allowed ;), with a simple target or goal.
    I mean , maybe there is a first dream, then, tow years later another dream or the dream have changed , or the dream becoming a passion etc..

    Congrats stef.

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  2. Thank you, Clement. But I think I am far from perfect. :) As for being a doctor, yes it can be a bloody job, both literally and figuratively.

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  3. Hi Steph

    The using of ''perfect'' mean ''perfect combination'' , it was a little bit different.
    So , it's important to leave compliments when the person deserve it , hehe

    Most of dcotors are good professionnal doctor but they don't get a really good writing.
    I Can say you are this species of double competence doctor.
    Probably you could be a good journalist in medical newspaper like in 20 th century . Here these newspapers disappear.

    A good writer , not only in the medical fields, everyone can see here.

    For example, one of my friend is graduated also in law ( don t know the roght translation).

    There are several other fields for a doctor, here. For example a doctor who have lost his dream haha: pharmaceutic, Unions even, politic ,management etc.

    I m not a good writer, but like you , every day i have something to write, and i like it. so, i like talk in english even its not a second language here.

    il like use double meaning word ( bloody is an example)

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  4. Hi steph,

    i m trying to image how is hard to be alone as mat genius ;)

    My side, my mat score at the final exam high school here , was 6/20

    Yes, the vietnamese doctors in my family were not a pressure at all but examples to follow only

    My dadd didn' t want lay down much money in my medical study . So school on day and hospital rooms cleaner and keeper on night , the early yeasr.

    I have no DREAM at all, no PASSION at all, only to get a good life and maybe become a psychologist after reading sigmund Freud.

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  5. In a nutshell, I was a good example of a bad medical student, bad in math , without any Dream ;) Fortunately i was able to succeed, definetely pure coincidence ;)

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  6. Hi Dr. STEF! I am sooooo glad that i found your website. I'm a 3rd year Pre-Med student,and i have MANY questions about Med school,NMAT or anything related to medicine. I searched for other blogs but i gotta say, YOU are the only one that i think i can relate to and your answers are really straight to the point. Especially in this topic, it just hit me hard because i'm still confused. Just like what you said,i should follow my dreams. But what if i'm not sure what's even my dream? If you don't mind,i want to share my story. When i was a kid i always say i wanted to be a doctor, so my family really expects me to be one because they always wanted a doctor in the family.Then when i was in highschool, i became interested in cooking and all that pastry stuff so i told my grandpa that i wanted to try culinary, but he said i won't be successful with that and instead i should pursue a career in medicine. And things have changed suddenly because i'm not into cooking anymore and somehow i'm loving (not really loving,more of liking) my premed course,but i still don't know if i want to spend my entire life being a physician.Sometimes i feel that i'm not smart enough that i won't even pass NMAT. I'm not really sure if i can survive med school and sacrifice 6 years of my life in what you called HELL. Yes, i love helping people and making them smile, but i don't know if i'm passionate enough about it. i still doubt my capabilities as a student because i'm not really smart as you are,and i don't think i'm not even good at socializing.There's just so many things going inside my head,add to that the academic stuffs.So i hope you share some of your tips if you're feeling pressured or stressed. Sorry for the long post. but anyways, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and i do hope you reply. :)

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  7. Hi, Louise!

    I'm glad my blog is something you can relate to. Don't worry, you're not alone about not knowing what you really want to do for a living. After all, it just might be something you'll be doing for the rest of your life!

    But don't think of med school as hell. I said there were people who made it a living hell for me, but it doesn't have to be that in your case. And it wasn't all bad - it was just the bullying part that became so.

    As for tips on how to handle pressure and stress, I don't think I can give you a universal formula. We all handle stress uniquely; what works for me might not work for you because we all have different personalities. Find your own formula - experiment with different destressing methods and you'll get closer to a formula that works for you! :)

    Having said all that, I hope that in the end, you choose not what people expect you to choose, but what you really want deep inside. And if you still don't know, I hope you find out soon enough. I also hope you don't become too afraid to change your mind, in case you heed the "wrong" calling on your wonderful journey ahead!

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  8. I want to be a doctor, but i'm afraid of dissecting cadavers, any tips? thanks

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  9. Hi, Mark! Sorry to hear that. I (and I think most other doctors I know) have a secret fascination for everything morbid about the body, living or not. But if you are afraid of cadaver studies, I guess conquering your fear will be up to you. It's like trying to conquer fear of the dark; kanya-kanyang style yan. :)

    You have to find the answer that suits you best. There is no cookie-cutter answer. I am worried for you, however, as you might sometimes assist in autopsies during your schooling. How about in surgery? It also requires dissection.

    Good luck on your journey!

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  10. Hello Dr. Steph!!

    I just want to seek for an advice regarding my dream to become a doctor but sad to say ang Bachelors degree ko is not in line with Nursing, Med.tech, Psychology, or any medical course.


    Ang tanong ko po is same footing po ba if nasa medicine school na po kahit anong Bachelors degree ang natapos? Thank you sa pagbasa and I am hoping for your positive response po....;)

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  11. Hi, Jessie! I don't think there's a cookie-cutter answer to your question. :) It all depends on your comprehension and learning. After all, even students of health-related courses don't necessarily perform well in medical school, right?

    If medicine is something you want to pursue, I don't see why you should let your college degree be a hindrance. Go ahead and jump, so to speak. And best of luck! :)

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  12. Dear Dr. Stef,
    Thank you for your blog.
    What we had back then was just Doogie Howser and Patch Adams.
    When will you write a play or script for a movie? I'm excited! :-D

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  13. I am a fellow colleague of your's and i must agree with some of your points..But in my honest opinion i think you where not just brave/strong enough to pursue medicine.. being reprimanded is part of the training, staying up all night, changing urine bags after urine bags, suctioning ET tube after ET tube and yes the Edema rounds.. its not just to make you a better doctor academically, but is to make you a stronger person.. I have always been good with my subordinates, and always been good with my seniors as well. But it is part of life to have a boss, to have someone to bully you to have someone to put you down.. you will see this even in the corporate world, religious sectors, politics, and life itself..

    You say you want to be a writer.. but from what i deduced is that you have a weak personality, and thinks you can always be on top, or the be the best at something. med school hierarchy showed you that your not..or atleast NOT YET..

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  14. I agree with everything you said Dra, in my opinion bullying in the rule rather than the exception in medical training particularly when you get to your cllinical training, they may rationalize it by telling you its for your own good but such attitude only aggeavates the vicious cycle of bullying thats already existing. These people may have had what it takes to be physicians but they never have what it takes to be mentors, most doctors think think that its the same thing when its not, mentors makes you better by inspiring you, they never hold grudges, never takes anything personally even when you make mistakes, just as long as you know what you did wrong and to never do it again. Bullies are the exact opposite, some of them may be seen as generous most the time but its just a mask. I remember a qoute in MI3 and it goes like this, "one can always tell someones character by the way they treat people they don't meed to treat right". And after training, moonlighting, and fellowship I thought I've seen everything but no. To those who wanats to become doctors, those who are in training, my advise to you is if you really want it then go for it, better that your bully seniors, and when you time comes try to end the vicious cycle by being fair and kind to your juniors. Karma's a bitch when she bites back. Good luck. Thank you Dra for sharing your story.

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  15. Tanjol, thank you for your comment. But there are things that have to be said about what you shared.

    You said I wasn't strong enough. You were right. I wasn't strong enough - but not in the way you think. My lack of strength is echoed not by my decision to take a road less taken, but by my decision to tolerate bullies instead of standing up to them since day one. (Also, to clarify, I did finish medicine, undergo internship, and get my license. I graduated with honors to boot.)

    Making an unpopular decision - setting aside your and everyone else's expectations to radically change the status quo - took much more strength than mingling with bullies.

    You also said, "But it is part of life to have a boss, to have someone to bully you, to have someone to put you down." Bullying is part of reality, yes, but it should never be tolerated nor accepted as the norm.

    Let us not be nonchalant about harassment and bullying. Bullying happens, but it shouldn't.

    When we think bullying is normal, when we let bullies go uncorrected, when we think people are weak simply because they refuse to be shackled to a career they are no longer happy about, then our thinking becomes our own limitation.

    I learned the hard way that it takes a steely character to want to change what is; to want to steer one's destiny.

    - - - - - - -

    Rogelio, thank you for leaving a comment. "These people may have had what it takes to be physicians but they never have what it takes to be mentors" -- probably true. Thank God for mentors who are kind to their students.

    You said, "One can always tell someones character by the way they treat people they don't need to treat right." I like that! You said it better than me.

    - - - - - - -

    Kris Nestor, LOL. Give me a P1M contract and I'll get right on it. Juuuust kidding!

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  16. Hi Stef! Thanks for this post. I'm a newly grad doctor currently working as an intern in a government hospital and what you wrote here is just really resonating with me now more than ever. Unlike you, I've always felt unsure about taking medicine but I pursued it anyway. No one forced me to do so but I did. And after four years, I'm still unsure as to whether or not I made the right decision. There are days that I love being a doctor but I think there are more days that I feel this was a mistake and that I wasted four years of my life on this. Now that I'm beginning my internship in no less than one of the most 'toxic' hospitals in the metro, I'm feeling just much worse about the decision I've made in my life. You see, I came from an Institution known for academic excellence in the field of Medicine but notorious for the lack of technical skills and it's making it so hard for me to function in a government setting. On my first day in the E.R., I got scolded by one resident so much that all I could do was swallow my pride and just take every beating. I felt so helpless juggling the demands of the countless, never-ending number of patients and those bitchy residents and all I could think of was getting out of there alive. I just can't imagine myself going through all of these til the end of internship, then residency and fellowship. I just feel like being a doctor isn't really for me anymore and I'm forcing myself to finish this just for the sake of doing so and perhaps saving face in front of all the people that know I'm a doctor now. I really don't know what to do anymore, I'm so lost. I keep thinking if I can ever make something of myself and earn a decent living? Any advice would be most welcome, thanks in advance! :p

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  17. Kyung Soo Do, what you are going through must be tough. You are at a fork in the road and you don't know what to do. Where will your career go if you stop? Where will your life go if you continue? It will be a constant battle of what-ifs and second thoughts.

    Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to this predicament. Someone else in your shoes might benefit from a solution which will not work for you. But that's the challenge: You have to come up with the decision.

    I know why it's tough to decide. It's easier if someone tells you what to do because it takes the responsibility out of the equation. You won't feel guilty if your decision turns out to be wrong because someone else made it for you, hehe.

    Kidding aside, the only support I can offer is not a solution, but a message of hope and encouragement. Do what you think is right for you. Everyone has an opinion as to what you should do. But what do YOU think you should do? Deep inside, what is your true calling.

    We excel best at something we are passionate about. This truth has resonated with me in my life. It might not hold true in yours - only you can tell. I just hope that, having said what I did in this blog post, my words will carry far and wide to tell everyone who feels lost that they are not alone. It happens. And yes, there is a way other than what has been pointed out to you.

    Best of luck. One day, when you've made your decision, please come back and let me know which road you took. :)

    May you find the enlightenment you need!

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  18. Hi Stef, I just want to thank you for giving words to my predicament. Like you, I'm also into writing now but I'm still a doctor in a primary hospital. Somewhere along the way, I came to realize I was meant to work with papers, computers and money rather than push my fingers into other people's orifices. I can relate with the study habits (or lack thereof) and the really hard smack of reality. I have dropped out of more than a couple of residency trainings. I often tell people that if only they warned me of the physical requirements, I would not dare enter. But alas, people only warned me of the academic difficulties that I actually enjoyed so much that I was so caught off guard of the real challenge. We are not weaklings because of our decision. Just how many doctors agree with you but are not brave enough to do something about it? I dare say we are brave enough to follow our happiness, challenge the norm and point out what is wrong. You're braver, because you dared publish it. Someday I will, too. Congratulations and good luck to both of us.

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  19. Should I still pursue med school if I'm kind of afraid of doing surgery?

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  20. Roumayne (I love your name - so unique, unlike mine, LOL), thank you for your comment. So heartwarming!

    Publishing this post was not without a lot of introspection. I knew I would be stoned for stating the truth - that is the case for many people who did the same but in different circumstances.

    But it was something I knew would help people who, like you said, didn't dare speak about this predicament.

    Good luck on your new career, too! I'm happy that you are now pursuing what feels more natural to you.

    - - - - - -

    Michael, fear of blood (or surgery) does not have to discourage you from taking up medicine. It's up to you!

    You will have to immerse yourself in surgery for a month or two during clerkship, and then again during internship. Many specializations, shall you decide to take one, will also require you to dabble in surgery, whether minor or major.

    Are you up to it? Ask yourself and decide. You are the best person to answer your own question. :) Good luck and let me know what your decision is!

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  21. Greetings Dr.Stef !!
    been reading your articles and have found the interesting and helpful...
    just wanted to ask you 4 questions.
    1. I'm a PT student, My father,who is A family physician/general surgeon said that If he had knew PT before, he would have taken that as a premed course, because you can become a unique Dr., can treat common illness like a physician and also rehabilitive ,injury,stroke etc.. Like a PT and also they are almost like physicians. This has inspired me to become a PT but I'm asking is that possible? I mean can you work(I'm planning to start my own clinic,work private) as a Dr. & at the same time a PT. Did you encounter some of your colleagues or doctors that you know doing that? And is it a good idea?
    2.I'm just an average student, before I didn't want to become a Dr. But during my later years in life, I've red an article that says that physicians are also vicegerents of God in this Earth, they are the instruments of God to heal people,and this profession is also beloved by God etc.. this has inspired me to become a Dr. , tell you the truth my father,even though a physician graduated from FEU-NRMF, didn't force me or influence me to become a physician, ifeel that this is a call from God to me, to help His servants get better & to remove their hardships, Sometimes I try to forget this but it doesn't get out in my head. I have now a desire to become a Dr. What do you think? Is this now a good reason?
    3.,like I said im just an average student, without any academic honors from my primary and secondary education, not so good in math and sometime s struggling to get a good grade(didn't inherit my father's IQ who was an honor student every class he attended) shy to report infront of the class etc.. . But I am willing to improve my academic skills..Is it possible for me to become a physician?
    4.can you give me some advise me in studying? some tips like is it really effective to study punctually every night?(8-11pm) and make it a habit? And also utilize some or every free time for studying?
    sorry for the long questions, hoping for your kind reply.(cant ask this questions to my father right now for fear of expecting high on me)THANKS

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  22. Hello, Prince Hisuka!

    As for your first query, sorry, I don't know of anyone who does that. Sorry can't be of any help there. As for your second question, you are in the best position to say if it's a "good reason"! :)

    My answer to your number 3 query: Anyone can be a physician! All you need is the capacity to comprehend all aspects of medicine (not just the mental, but also the physical and emotional).

    Lastly, as for study habits, to each his own. What works for me may not work for you. It is best that you develop an independent thinking early on (as in now), whether it's about study habits or your capacity to become a doctor.

    Best of luck!

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  23. Hi! Can B.S. Psychology (its a 5 year course with masteral of guidance counseling) in PNU be a Pre-med(if God permits i might pursue medicine). Even though its educational Psychology? Sorry had to ask you again this question,sana hindi po kayo makulitan sa akin). I'm from Batangas po and pass the entrance exam and interview at PNU and my cousins told me that best school for Psych is PNU. I want Psych to be my pre-med. Thank you! :) BTW, your blog is a great help!

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  24. Hi Dr.Stef,
    I really want to know what is the best premed course in line of becoming a doctor ?

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    1. Hello, Zhayne! Try reading these FAQs as my answer to your question is there. :)

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  25. Hi Dr.Stef !
    What is the best premed course in line of becoming a doctor ?

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  26. Hi, Zhayne! I think there's no cookie cutter way to answer your question. How about looking for a premed that really interests you? You learn best in a field where you are personally invested. Just my humble opinion.

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  27. Hi Dr. Steff! I'd like to ask for your help. I took Veterinary Medicine as my pre-med course,but unluckily,i wasn't able to pass the NVAT,the passing rate is 50 and i only got 49.99. I'm planning now to transfer to another school and take BS Medical Biology in DLSU-D,they said that yung 4th year daw doon ay 1st year na sa Medicine(DLSHSI). Ayaw ko po magduda sa abilities ko but na-trauma po ako sa nangyari sa NVAT ko. I really don't want to disappoint my parents about what happened. I would like to know your insights about this. Thanks!

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  28. Hello! More than your desire to not disappoint your parents should be your desire to determine for yourself what you really want to do! It also looks like a problem that requires introspection and forgiving yourself - in other words, something best solved by you, not me or anyone else around you. Best of luck on your journey ahead!

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  29. Bettina, sorry for posting your comment belatedly - it got buried in spam. :) Anyhoo, here's an article on pre-med courses that you might want to read. Hope it helps. Best of luck!

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  30. Hello, Dr. Stef! This post was really helpful, thank you! I'm an incoming 2nd year Biochemistry student in UST and I have thoughts of shifting. I got this program because I love Bio so I just added Chem to make it more unique, haha. But I didn't expect the program was all about Mathematics and Chemistry! I'm not into numbers and the smell of chemicals infuriates me. I'm thinking of shifting to BS Nursing because I think that suits my personality more since they are already interacting with the patients in their 2nd year and are already exposed in the hospital compared to Biochemistry students who are just locked up in a laboratory. The program was really hard but it's not a big problem for me since I got into the DL cutoff. My problem is whether I like what I'm doing and could bear with it for the next 3 years or just risk in shifting. I hope to get more insights from you. Thanks!

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  31. Hi, Joyce! Welcome to my blog!

    Nobody - not your teachers, not your parents, not me - should tell you exactly what to do because you will be the one living with the results of your decision. :) What we can do, however, is provide guidance so that you ar empowered to make the decision that is best for you.

    Before you decide, have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. Then, have a heart-to-heart talk with your parents about your wishes. One thing is for sure: the decision has to come from you or you may just end up either resenting life or resenting the people who made the decision for you.

    Best of luck! It takes courage and a lot of introspection to get there, but you will get there. Let me know what your decision is once you've made one!

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  32. Hi Stef, Thanks for bringing up the issue of Bullying in Medical field. I graduated from Medical School in 1969 and have been associated all my life with teaching institutions with Medical Students and Residents. Progressively in USA the Bullying is decreased substantially. And that is good news. Good teacher does not have to induce fear but admiration and inspiration. Also I noticed that Bullying was more in certain fields such as Cardiac Surgery - Neurosurgery etc. The fields where even a small error is not acceptable. I think all schools should address the issue of bullying. In these days of Smart Phones it is not hard to document the unacceptable behaviour and expose these bullies.

    Great Blog

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    1. Thanks, Vijay! It's great to hear from fellow doctors who put a primer on compassion and respect. It really makes my day.

      Are you on Instagram or Twitter? Please connect with me there: @stefdelacruzmd. I'm also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stefdelacruzmd.

      Thank you, Vijay! May you be a beacon of light among your peers.

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  33. I always dreamed to be called a doctor. But i did not had the chance until now to at lesst enrol in med school. At this point in time, i must be a graduating student but because of getting courses i dont want, i stopped then enrolled to another course that i still dont want but had no choice but to finish it, realizing im not getting any younger. But still i am dreaming of becoming a doctor, to enroll after i finished my course now. But is it still possible for me to be one? I am turning 20 this year, and will graduate on 22, my course now is Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Biological Science, i am enjoying my major, not my course. Prof ed subjects are really hard for me because i dont love what i do. I only enjoyed and enjoying labworks and science subjects. Im not that smart. Could it be possible for me to be a doctor? I am planning of enrolling in med school after i graduated. But im 22 by that time, and i dont know if my course is ok or i still need to take premed course for me to be able to take NMAT. Dr.Steph? What can you say? And am i not that old enough? Entering med school at the age of 23 or 24? Is it still possible for me? Or my destiny is not to become a doctor? Answer me please :(

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    1. Hi, Kairyll. I can feel your confusion. Unfortunately, only you can say whether or not your destiny is to be a doctor.

      You are asking questions, which is good. But you need to ask yourself these questions, not other people. And you need to be honest to yourself.

      I realize that you posted this comment last year. I hope that by this time, things are much clearer to you. Here's to hoping you have finally heard (and listened to) your true calling. :)

      Keep in touch, keep telling your story.

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  34. Hi Steph,

    I really want to pursue a medical career. There's always a tugging feeling that I get whenever I think about it (is it butterflies or acid reflux, idk). But I'm really scared of failing and disappointing my parents. Also I'm already 24, which maybe is a bit late for me to pursue my dream. I'm still working in a different are of expertise tho. I'm saving to support my own fees so my parents won't have to cash out their money for retirement.

    In short, what I want to say is that thru your blog posts; from tips for high NMAT scores to life in med school and as a resident itself, you give me a more concise perspective of what I can possibly go thru as well. Scary yes, but damn exciting. You are an inspiration, so screw the people who tell you that you are 'wasting' your medical education'. You are helping others thru your words. You do you :)

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Elaina!

      I do hope you overcome your fears and anxieties - leave space for the ones you will experience as a med student and doctor, hehe. Kidding aside, I hope you eventually have the means to pursue your dream to be a doctor. (Try applying for scholarship while you're at it.)

      Good luck, Elaina! Do come back and update me once you're finally in med school!

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