Archive for June, 2008


In White

June 28, 2008

White is in, and it has been a long time since it has been in, but I’ve just recently got in on the craze.
I am now one of the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who wear all white on schooldays. We are the caregiver students, student nurses, and medical students.
Ordinarily, I hate wearing white. I don’t like wearing something that easily gets dirty. In fact, I don’t recall every buying white shirts except undershirts and org shirts. Truth be told, I had misgivings on the afterlife dress code. The prospect of wearing white for eternity just doesn’t appeal to me. I prefer wearing non-white clothes before that Day arrives.
Yet here I stand, wearing all white. My clothes are so white they reflect some of the ultraviolet spectrum, giving them a bluish tinge when shone on by the sun. They look so pure and immaculate that I had to change my habits overnight. Such is the nature of the all-white uniform that one stain could ruin the entire get-up. I can no longer rest on posts, sit on the floor, sit on dusty and dirty chairs, or walk carelessly near suspicious objects.
Wearing white, however, gave me an insight on the nature of the afterlife dress code I mentioned earlier. Whereas I’ll have to wash the blood off my uniform should they get stained in patient’s blood, the Blood of the Lamb washes off all the stains of my white robes. Whereas I’ll have to work hard to keep my uniform clean and white, my white robes symbolize that I am already clean and pure not by my own work but by the work of the One who died and rose again.


PBL Part 2

June 21, 2008

I think all medical students since the time medicine has been formally organized have asked this question, “Must I become a doctor?”
Others ask this when they are bombarded with patients and the paperwork that come with them. Others ask this when they realize that their life would involve being perpetually exposed to sickness. Others ask this when they discover that their time is no longer their own, that they must stick their noses to books instead of having the fun they used to have. Usually, they ask this when they are already far ahead in their studies such that it would be too late for them to quit. Others, however, specifically students following the Problem Based Learning (PBL) model, ask this during even before their first month of taking Medicine ends.
We, I mean, I feel I have to read everything. We don’t have text books. We, instead, have recommended books, books that we have to read and understand. Those recommended books, btw, are not the only books that PBL students must read. They are told to read everything! I think even the most die hard bookworm would leave his mouth open in shock when he sees dozens of titles, of which some of them are more than a thousand pages thick.
Yet the reading part is barely half the taste of the main course of the PBL style. The discussions part is what gives it its distinct flavor. The following text features an exaggerated example of what happens in a PBL session gone wrong in the “right” direction. Imagine a room filled with seven medical students armed with the knowledge of several books covering the same topic. One of them says, “The corpus luteum undergoes degeneration 16 days after the unfertilized oocyte is released from its Graafian follicle.”
“By Guyton! That is wrong.”
“Harrison be with me, but what you are saying isn’t right.”
“Langman take you! Go read his book.”
“By the power of Williams, stop saying gibberish.”
And to think those books contradict each other with regard to the dates of embryological formation. Yet I’ve heard that loud debates have stemmed from these contradictory minute details. Students of the traditional learning style have textbooks, of which the “holy” Gray is chief. They don’t have to bother with bickering sessions. Nevertheless, loud discussions are preferable compared to silence. At least, there is a flow of communication and information. Yet woe to groups who have shy and silent members. If they don’t have good tutors goading them to speak, nothing gets discussed.
At least, medical students under the PBL style get to ask the question, “Must I become a doctor,” early when they haven’t yet encountered the rigors of higher medical training. They could opt to leave if they choose. Nevertheless, if they do choose to stay, then that means they would strive for excellence in the path towards becoming a physician.


Happy Independence Day?

June 14, 2008

Photo of a tartanilla* dressed up with national colors.
I’m a few days overdue, but considering what our President has done to mangle up our calendar, I guess my greeting of a Happy Independence Day would still be appropriate for now, or not.
I’m not a political activist. I’m not even close as a nationalist. Yet, strangely, my blood boiled when I learned that the sanctity of the Philippine Independence Day was violated! That day became ordinary. The majority of the people around here were just doing their ordinary day-to-day activities without nary a thought of why they now have the freedom to do those ordinary day-to-day activities.
Some people, however, were observing the holiday with their presence, and not necessarily with their minds. On my way to school, I saw several high school students in the plaza. They were busy fidgeting around and ignoring a speaker whose speech they were forced to listen. I must admit that I was exactly like them when I was still in high school.
I still haven’t changed much. The deplorable state of my country’s political situation has doused all fires of nationalism in me. I know I’m not alone with this feeling. In fact, I know many people here have more extreme feelings. They’d renounce their Filipino citizenship as soon as one advanced country would offer them a new one.
I don’t think our President has to take all the blame on this non-observance of our independence. Even if our Independence Day was to be observed on the exact day, and not on the Monday of that week, the majority of Filipinos, and that would include me, would just stay home and enjoy their day off from work or school.
So I guess that makes me lose the right to complain about the scandal the President had caused by moving the holiday to Monday. Perhaps that day’s meaning has already been lost to us. Yet I know it wouldn’t hurt for me to greet every Filipino reading this post a “Happy Independence Day” whatever that may mean…

*The tartanilla is a type of horse-drawn carriage. This carriage differs from the Tagalog calesa in that the tartanilla’s passengers face the side of the vehicle while the calesa passengers face front. Yes, it’s still a form of public transport here.


First PBL

June 14, 2008

Image taken from Despair, Inc.
Last Friday, we had our first Problem Based Learning (PBL) experience.
It was different from the traditional learning style that I was used to. Gone were the teachers speaking to a class full of inattentive students. Instead, we were 7 students in a small room doing most of the talking while the doctors who acted as our tutors merely goaded us to discuss more.
First we students roleplayed as doctors and a doctor roleplayed as the foster father of a 15-year-old girl who hasn’t menstruated yet, but who was apparently impregnated by her 14-year-old boyfriend. The foster father cited the girl’s vomiting every morning as proof of her pregnancy. He wanted to have the supposed pregnancy aborted. We, the doctors, asked questions to gain as much information as we could for our analysis.
Personally, I think our case involves a patient with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. The “girl” hasn’t menstruated, yet she suddenly is supposed to become “pregnant” by virtue of her morning sickness. “She” might also look like the perfect girl, but it could be that chromosomally “she” is male. “Her” male genitalia just didn’t develop because “she” does not respond to androgens, or male hormones. So “she” gets to have female externally genitalia, but internally, she has balls that just didn’t develop and descend.
Nevertheless, that is only my opinion. It may not be the correct one, or even be the correct one. The PBL style, however, emphasizes the learning process instead of the solution.
From that roleplay session, we formed Learning Issues (LI) that we had to research about. Among our LI were Embryology, Gametogenesis, Male and Female Sexual Anatomy and Physiology, as well as ethical and legal issues regarding Abortion. We have to study these topics individually, and then discuss them in another PBL session. This learning style supposedly has a better edge than the traditional learning style where the teacher does most of the talking.
I am thankful that I was assigned to belong to my group. Our discussion moved smoothly, and we didn’t have extreme personalities as members. Other groups had very domineering members who eclipsed their more silent members, or so I heard. Other groups had very silent members, and the tutor had to coax them to talk.
Yet that was only our first day of PBL. I am sure that everyone would improve in the coming days as we get the hang of this new learning experience.

PS Despite the apparent advantages of the PBL, it also has its downsides. The picture above is a reminder on what could possibly go wrong with this style..


School Already?

June 12, 2008

Today is the 4th day since we officially started class, and I still don’t feel like a med student yet.
I’ve met my classmates, and we’ve met the MDs who would be our tutors* and teachers. We have been oriented to the library. We have even had several classes. Yet I still feel as if I was just playing around the college.
The reason for this feeling might be because we aren’t allowed to wear our uniforms yet. It could also be because we haven’t been exposed to the real classroom medical experience yet. Either way, only time will make me feel like I am a medical student. Yet even if I feel it or not, the truth is that I am now a medical student.

*The med school here uses the Problem-Based-Learning model.


Last Day of Freedom

June 6, 2008

Today is Friday, my last day of freedom.
Classes would be starting next week on Monday, which means that after about 2 years since UP, I’ll finally be a “full-fledged” student again. I’m not counting Saturday and Sunday as my last days of freedom because students are usuall free during those days. I’m also not counting my previous class experiences as being “full-fledged” student work. Those classes did not confirm me a degree. I just took them for the extra units I needed to proceed to med school.
Soon I’d be wearing a uniform again, which will be my first since high school! I did not wear any uniform during my Engineering stint, and neither did I wear one after my college graduation. In short, it’s been a long time since I last wore a school uniform. I’ll just leave the math to the smart ones reading this post.
Come classes, I would be under the mercy of schedules. My days would be spent listening to lectures and discussing lessons with classmates. Most of myy nights would be used for studying and sleeping. In short, I would no longer be the master of my day. I would lose my freedom after today ends.
Yet I didn’t feel anything different from my usual mood when I realized that today is my last day of freedom. Today seems to be just any ordinary day, the same as all the days that I was waiting to get into med school. I know I’ll be hyping up as Monday draws near. I just don’t feel as hyped yet.
Today feels so normal, even though I know it is my last day of freedom.