Sunday, July 22, 2007

What Matters Most

One baggage down, one thorn out.

Today, i had my 1st experience of the said diplomate oral exam. The first part of two. Still groggy from a 24-hr duty, went to the exam venue with only a mini booklet in my bag. I really have no idea about what will come out in the said exam. All i know is that out of a 2-volume bible that we have in the specialty, they will only get 5 diseases. We were oriented that we should concentrate more on the more common diseases and their complications. Eventhough, i still have to figure things out.

My fellow examinee from the other hospital was already there when i arrived at the venue. She was reading her notebook complete with all the notes and with her was the pocket edition of our bible. Well, i have been used to not bringing any notes during exams. I dont find it convenient nor helpful. Aside from not looking cool, i dont want to cram a few minutes before an exam. What matters most is what my teenie meenie brain contains.

After exchanging pleasantries, i heard what most people who will be taking an exam will be whining about. "I havent studied well." "I was informed only last week." Oh, so was i. To be more specific, for the past week, i was helping out the Irish students in computing for the medicines that they'll be buying for the department. The day before the exam, i was helping out in budgeting the meager medicine allocation for the whole hospital. I was studying on how to be an accountant to be more exact. Darn! This is supposed to be my sister's job. I studied medicine, didnt i?

Anyhow, equipped with the little faith that i have, complete with well-wishes from my seniors, co-residents, interns and family members, i felt nothing the whole time! I was numbed! I might have deactivated my sympathetic nervous system again. Or maybe my sleepiness overpowered my nervousness, negating it, resulting to a normal, non-feeling me! Attack mode! Whatever you call it. Que sera sera. Hakuna matata. If this exam is for me, then i shall pass it.

I will not go into the details of the whole exam. Just to give you a bird's eye view, there were two tables inside the examination room. Each table had 3 chairs on each side. The left side was were the panelists were seated and the right side was where we were seated, rotating from one panel to another. There were 5 sets of subspecialties. In short, we have to diagnose, manage and treat 5 diseases that are unknown to us.

Fast tracking, i finished the oral exam still feeling nothing. I guess i was able to answer those questions that were asked of me. The cases were really very common. I encountered them at the wards, at the er and they usually are the topics that we always ask our interns during endorsements. I had a problem more on the management and diagnostics though. Who wouldnt? I was used to this hospital where most of our patients were treated without the support of ancillary procedures since most of them cant afford it. Added to that, our well equipped laboratory has nothing but a complete blood count. Great!

In short, i was trained to diagnose and treat a patient by mere history and physical examination alone. This gave me confidence at the first station. In a way, i was also picturing myself at the ER, diagnosing my patient without any laboratory result at hand. The 2nd and 3rd stations were quite difficult since we have to deal with what's ideal. The next time around, all i need to do is to concentrate more on the ideal management that i could read in my books.

My chairman delivered the result to me. Still, i was feeling nothing. I was even starting to yawn again. Oh well, i can see another narcolepsy attack coming! He asked me how i found the exam. Told him that i was able to get all the 5 diagnoses correct. "Ok. So you passed!" I what? I passed! I have to repeat this over and over again to myself. Self, you passed! Hey! You passed! Bringing my consciousness back to realtime, i managed to smile. This is it! I passed! Can i sleep now?

Goodness! I didnt realize how important this diplomate exam was when my seniors started texting and calling me, congratulating me. You're one step higher now self! I was a step higher now? Alright, an achievement i might consider it. Modesty aside though, i wasnt really prepared before i took it. I was preoccupied with a lot of things in the department and i even went on duty the day before i took the exam. I just took a leap of faith. I was thinking that i will never be prepared after all so might as well take it now.

Well, one baggage out. I still have another one in October. As for now, i just couldnt help but thank all the people behind this achievement. I might feel that i wasnt prepared for it. I realized though that my consultants have prepared me well for the past 3 years. What with having a chairman whose standards arent that reachable? Since mediocrity has no place in the department, I was taught to strive even more. Also, I started to challenge myself on what i can do. Remove the word pressure. Pressure would be different. I only have one life to live and why pressure myself on the things that i coulnt do? Simply stated as, tapping my own potential. Not squeezing all the life out of me so as i could achieve something.

Shall i also thank this crap hospital where i am in? I might say that I wasnt prepared for the past week but i have been training myself for the past 3 years in this institution. What with those toxic duties? What with those magnanimous number of admissions. Oh, not to mention the number of interns that we have trained too. As residents, we were also learning in the process. In the long run, what mattered most is not what i was bringing along with me before the exam. Rather, twas what my gray matter has stored all along.


snglguy said...

Congrats on acing the exam, Angel. I'm sure the next one will be a breeze for you.

AngelMD-No-More said...

thnx keeping my fingers crossed...hehe