The Online Class Dilemma

Recently, I wrote about my thoughts on how unfortunate 2020 is for doctors-to-be. Well the dilemma isn’t over yet.

We had a meeting with our dean and the head of the Medical Education Unit today. We were oriented on how our clerkship set-up would be for the next two months. Our hospital rotation schedules were cut off and we will not be able to rotate to some departments instead we’ll have online blended learning (which is something not to be excited about).

We were also told that the tuition fee will remain as is despite us not using the school and hospital facilities. What’s more exasperating surprising is that our new online curriculum mainly consists of “independent study”.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly what to feel. My head aches since after the meeting this afternoon and I have no idea how to plan my life for the next few weeks.

Basically, I have to…

  • complete all my immunizations by July
  • be back to Metro Manila by the end of August [I still don’t know how, commercial flights are still suspended up to this moment]
  • complete my physical exam and medical clearance including the (expensive) COVID-19 RT-PCR before September
  • settle all school fees and finish enrolment by next week
  • review all 1st yr to 3rd yr subjects in a week and take a four-day comprehensive exam
  • purchase all clerkship essentials in two weeks, have my uniforms embroidered, get a personalized stamp (Trodat), and many more.

The Type A personality in me could not rest nor sleep soundly tonight knowing I have tons of things to accomplish (I seriously considered making a binder — the Amy Santiago method).

Another thing that causes me to worry for months now is the fact that all my stuffs (laptop, books, review materials, medbag) were in my dormitory at Metro Manila. Before the lockdown, I went home with only a small luggage with my clothes and a few personal things. Having online classes without these is like diving down deep the ocean without an oxygen tank.

I’ve been ranting about all these things for months now. How uncomfortable I was and how inconvenient everything is despite me my parents paying a huge amount of money. I still believe that none of all these is worth it.

My sister, being an experienced internal auditor, repeatedly told me that our school’s internal control are adequately placed and that all my complaints are just over reactions because I am not yet adapted to this new system. She told me to change my mindset. Because, truth be told, not everything always goes the way we want it to be. And as a future doctor, I have to get used to that.

On our school’s end, they are also doing their best for us to continue our education. Everything is also inconvenient for them but they’re doing the extra mile because they care for us — future doctors (and our future patients).

Weeks ago I seriously considered not enroling this school year and instead wait for the pandemic to be over before continuing. But then I realized that this pandemic is just a hurdle we must learn to overcome. If I indeed decided to stop for a year, it’s like saying, “All right COVID you win, I’m pausing my pursuit for my dream.”

But no. I am called to this field. And defeating hurdles like this pandemic is the very reason why the world needs resilient physicians.

All my petty issues with this online curriculum are indeed just an over reaction of the obsessive-compulsive, plan-and-future-oriented, type A personality me.

My sister was right. Maybe I’m seeing the situation with my perspective as a medical student — focused only on the things that directly affect me. But my sister (who is a CPA with a Masters Degree in Business Administration specializing in Health Care) sees the situation from a larger perspective. In whatever view, it’s a win-win situation.

She also told me that instead of over reacting and worrying about all this, I should first think of solutions. Gawan ng paraan lahat and pwedeng gawan ng paraan. And let it go of those that aren’t within my control.

Further, our year-level coordinator emphasized during the meeting how adversity quotient is way more important than EQ or IQ.

As of this writing, I’m still in a dilemma. Still worried. Still anxious. But at the very least, I am learning to see things from a different perspective and take control of my reactions.

No one was prepared for this pandemic. All these was unplanned and unexpected.

But how do we survive?

The basic principle of life — as does every living thing — ADAPT.

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