Shading the box

You thought that you did your best and it wasn't enough - this could be just one side of the many facets of this existence. So, in retrospect, it could be that during that time in the past you were at your best but then your current self outgrew such threshold. Hence, your standards went higher unbeknownst to your soundness.

In medical school, I am constantly reminded every other exam that I need to dig in my books deeper and that the lavishness of knowledge reflected upon a myriad of information revolves around the force called ‘life’ is the foundation of my future. This is where the challenge sinks in from the very first day I submitted my medical school application form and this is what I failed to do.

This has been bugging me in the middle of exams while analyzing the test and selecting the best choice possible. It never fails to fascinate me how meticulous my mind gets when it comes to multitasking rather, in a more appropriate term, multi-thinking. I’m always soul-searching and drifting somewhere in an alternative dimension as I shade the box.

It’s kind of funny that these thoughts have been running in my mind since the day I lose myself in a couple of examinations. Multiple choice type of questions is very ironic. This is the easiest and the hardest of all test questions ever made possible. Regardless of cases or memory kind of queries, there’s always this one common attribute – there is always a right choice and it is being offered right before your eyes.

Then, every time after the test, it has been a routine to assure oneself that there’s always the ‘next time.’ But have you ever thought about the time that you missed and that time that you will be missing about this ‘next time’ for the same failed event? It’s okay to commit the same mistakes as long as you have to relearn the lesson that you keep on learning and forgetting at one time or another. There’s always room for error but it’s always too little, too late.

Yes, it’s always a brave thing to do to admit that somewhere along the way that you committed a mistake. Everybody else does, anyway. That’s very fine, indeed. However, a simple mistake can lead to a very grave consequence.  If not now, when will you stop acting like an underrated, indolent, and irresponsible and start being a 22-year old dignified medical student?

Let’s go back to the test – say, you got the right answer and you eventually achieved the highest marks. It’s very exulting, isn’t it? This is very good because you have fulfilled your part very well as a medical student. But, it doesn’t stop there. You got it right because you’ve seen the answer perfectly well in one of the given choices.

“What’s the fun in written exams when it’s all about the overrated ideals?”
The art of medicine is always a mixture of specificity and creativity. It is very beautiful. Magnum Opus. Perfection. Flawless. But then, despite its grandiosity, there’s always somewhere that’s gone wrong in such an absolute system. It is us – the most complex multicellular organism that comes in abundance – the human race.

In real life, the cases will be presented ambiguously. It’s a mixture of signs and symptoms and your differentials can get longer than the last novel you’ve read or the number of crosswords you’ve finished in the newspaper. There is no one correct answer because everything that you can think of is the right option. A rational mind and a sound judgment will help you pick out the best among the good ones. And when you get it right, you deserve a pat on the back. But when you are wrong, bid your patient’s life goodbye and embrace the guilt of his demise.

During and after hell week, I've been telling myself that "grades are not everything and there's more to life than blah blah shit." This applies to everybody in every aspect of life. However, I hope that in one way or another, we don't use this phrase in redundancy as an excuse to lay back and be less of a person that our future selves will regret. Medical school is not just about academics. It is about learning how to save lives, ours and our patients’, and how to hold on to our sanity.

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