Friday, April 29, 2011

New Leaf

Last year, the road to getting our license as nurses was fraught with troubles- the scarcity of cases, the last-minute filing at PRC, and personal turmoil a week before the board exam. Yet the whole ordeal made me realize how much I really valued my license. As I viewed my board rating- missing the top ten unfortunately by 1.4 points, I was happy nonetheless that all the efforts paid off.

I spent the last weeks of December last year gathering all documents, and submitted them to my three choices for medical school: UP Palo, RTR Medical Foundation, and West Visayas State University (WVSU).

By March I received a letter from WVSU stating my interview schedule. During this time as well unfortunately, Dr.Labarda of UP Palo informed all applicants that the DOH-PCSO scholarship Pinoy MD will no longer be offered for 2011- this will also mean that lateral entry (they have a curriculum which progresses from midwifery graduate-BSN-MD) from students who had their baccalaureate degree elsewhere will not be accepted. It would have been great to study there because aside from quality education, the tuition fee was affordable at around the same cost of nursing education in Tacloban, not to mention the school is only a few kilometers away from our house.

West Visayas College of Medicine was among the top five medical schools based on board exam performance for the past five years (along with UP Manila, UST, PLM, and CIM). Being a state university, the tuition is subsidized by the government so it is remarkably lower than in most schools. The selection process is stringent- first you must meet the GWA (general weighted average of grades) and NMAT requirement, those qualified for the interview will face a panel of 7 doctors who will evaluate you based on your answers, then applicants are ranked.

The applicants from other regions had a stiffer competition because per WVSU Board of Regents resolution no. 68, s. 2001, 75% of incoming students should be permanently residing in Region VI, the 25% from other regions. There were rumors that the following criteria was followed: 60% GWA, 30% NMAT score, and 10% Interview- but a classmate said someone asked the panel and they replied 40%NMAT, 30%GWA, and 30% interview. If it were the latter, then I was really doomed because of my less than stellar NMAT rating, still I was rooting that my 1.7580 GWA would help turn the tide, and if I just cinch the interview I could make it.

There were around 200 or so qualified applicants who were to be interviewed on April 12 and 13. I belonged to the first batch. I arrived ahead of time, and we were grouped and asked to write an essay. Afterwards our group went to the designated room and waited outside for our names to be called.

The tension was palpable in the air. I tried to make small talk with a seatmate who was a BS Biology graduate of WVSU, who told me last year three sections of BS Bio applied for WVSU College of Medicine and only 8 students made it. Finally my name was called, along with five other applicants.

We faced our panel and introductions were made. The doctors were actually nice and told us to relax. We began by saying something about ourselves and why we want to pursue medicine.

I think three of us in there were nurses (and many more during the second batch). I shied away from the usual responses like “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor since I was little”, but instead told them candidly of our situation, coming from an OFW family and wanting to work here in our country instead of the usual route of working abroad as a nurse. I also told them I wanted the satisfaction of working in the health care industry which to me, is more like a vocation than just a job to earn money.

They asked us about our strengths and weaknesses. They also asked us of our achievements and situations that showed our leadership potential- which wasn’t much of a problem for me since I already managed a group of people for the past two years in my previous work. They asked us if we play online games or other addictive distractions from school work, and even if we had girlfriends or boyfriends.

One heavy weight question directed to me alone was how our family would get along considering that our parents have already passed away, and what would the situation be if I indeed pursue med school in Iloilo. I told them that I was proud that my brothers and I have been working together to maintain our home, and that they are doing well independently in the US. I told them that if ever I leave, I could delegate my responsibilities to other members of our household. There was no denying it, they were also looking into my personal responsibilities here.

It took another nerve-racking two weeks before they announced the results. Like waiting for the board exam results, I spent the entire time stress eating and writing silly blogs. The verdict? I didn’t make it, and I took it as a sign from above that if I am to fulfill all my responsibilities and at the same time pursue my personal goals I have to stay here in Tacloban. Truth be told, the last few days before the results came out I was actually contemplating on staying in Tacloban even if ever I get accepted. One of the reasons was that I received the devastating news of my mother and father’s demise over the telephone- and I don’t think I could bear it if that same thing happens again with my 85 year old grandmother who has been battling breast CA for the past two years. I need to be here.

I am actually finished with my interview and physical exam here at RTRMF. Enrollment is on the 16th of May, and I thank God and the people who support me for this chance to make something out of myself. Good luck to all incoming med students all over the archipelago, see you guys in the Physician Licensure Exam. Make sure to bring your game on, because I will.

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