Things I Learned in Medical School So Far

Upon writing, I am an incoming Clinical Clerk*. A fourth year medical student. A junior intern. I’m sure there’ll be more things I’ll learn for the next few months but I felt the need to sum up my academic years* in this one long read before my clinical years commence.

*clinical clerk – the lowest form of being in the hospital heirarchy, an immature doctor-to-be being the “assistant” of everybody, wearing a white uniform but basically doing clerical tasks, period when confidence declines

*academic years – referring to first year to third year in medicine, the time period of actually going to classes, learning textbook theories, and taking lots and lots of written and practical exams, overconfident years

Before I enrolled in medical school, I have read several blogs (and books) from doctors narrating their personal unique medschool experience. I also know a handful of successful medschool survivors who told me their stories verbally. Each story is beautiful on its own. One person’s story does not exactly fit another’s which means that medschool is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. On the other hand, these stories we hear or read from other doctors/medstudents, provide us a glimpse (tho not exactly) of what to expect ahead of us. I, for one, was able to get a lot of inspiration from these kinds of stories.

So I’d like to share my story too. Somewhere in vast universe that is the Internet, a lost doctor-wanna-be is probably looking for these kinds of stories. Who knows this long read might be of help to someone. A future colleague, hopefully.

So here it goes.


1. EQ > IQ

I used to be really insecure specially during 1st year because of an incompetent NMAT score. I graduated with a latin honor (of which the “how” is still not clear to me) but I got an average NMAT Score just enough to qualify to the cut-off score of most universities. I never told anyone that I have a laude nor mentioned about my NMAT Score. I faired well in terms of academics during my first few months in first year but as time goes by, the more things became clear to me. Nobody actually cares whether you’re the smartest person in the world or just an average human being. In medical school, you start from zero. All those college awards, those PRC licenses, those years of experience in healthcare, all amount to nothing. You’re all on the same level. What will make you different from all others is how well you handle social and emotional pressure. Same is true with life. EQ is always more significant than IQ.

2. Together We Stand, Divided We Fall

Competition in medical college is inevitable. But nothing compares to the solidarity of one class, moving together forward, towards one final goal. “Walang ibang magbubuhatan kunti tayo-tayo rin.” Your classmates are your future colleagues not your future competitors. You’re all going to be physicians someday. There’s no value in competing.

Find your tribe. Pray for a group of friends who will motivate you more. Those that will go study out with you all night at Starbucks or CBTL. Those who’ll go eat Samgyup with you after a stressful exam week. Those who always got your back. Keep in mind that you cannot do medschool alone. Don’t try to be strong. It’s okay to ask for help from the right people.

3. Get Trained Beyond Curriculum

Most medical colleges in the Philippines today has a curriculum which enables students to engage in a “self-directed learning” which means that professors will be there to guide but students has to navigate on their own. As with every other curriculum there ever has been, not everything you need to know will be taught to you. You have to train yourself beyond curriculum. Read books about successful doctors. Watch documentaries. Talk to people. Learn and gain knowledge in every way possible.

Here’s my post about books every aspiring medical student should read.

BONUS TIP: Establishing a study habit is very important. For me, I am more productive at coffee shops than when studying at home.

4. Never Underestimate the Value of Reading Your Textbooks

I’m guilty of trans-ing my way through the most difficult exams. Transes are a handy transcribed version of the lectures with some side notes from the textbooks here and there. They sure are a great and effective read. But as early as first year, our professors never failed to emphasize the value of reading the textbooks. I used to transcribe transes for our class and that gave me motivation to actually open and read our textbooks. I personally loved Guyton for Physiology and Robbins for Pathology. It is written in a light manner with witty hugots which you’ll never find out if you don’t read. READING is the bread and butter of this profession. Even when you’re already a clinician, you still need to read. Harrison’s or Schwartz would always come in handy. So start reading as early as now.

5. Know Your WHY

Upon entry to medical school, you must convince yourself WHY you wanted to become a doctor. They usually ask this on interviews and most give out miss-universe-answers. But your WHY must be practical. And it must be strong enough that no storm can hinder you from continuing on no matter how hard things get. Your WHY must be the sole reason for you to still chose to fight even when you already feel like losing. Your WHY must be a question you sure can give an answer to. On a daily basis.

Medical School is not a walk in the park. It is a roller coster ride with many unexpected twists and turns. At times you’ll be brought lower than rock bottom, rarely at cloud nine. But in the end, it is your attitude that will matter the most.

These five points I shared aren’t golden keys that will ensure your success in medical school. I’m sure there are some who has more inspiring things to say. But for me, these are the things I have learned and have kept me going.

As for now, I am looking forward to the commencement of my clinical years. And I am very excited to learn more.

Do you want to share your medschool story? Or do you have a blog about medical schooling? Comment below! Let’s inspire one another 💟

3 thoughts on “Things I Learned in Medical School So Far

  1. Hi, doktora! 💛 thank you for this! 🥺 i am an incoming medical student in the Philippines. I’m actually both anxious & excited for what’s coming ahead of me. Take care! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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