Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Studying for Med School

One common advice I got, and one advice I can give to anyone who wants to be in med school to become a doctor is to ask yourself many times if this is really what you want for yourself. There is no second-guessing and no room for indecision because your profession will consume all your time and resources. Try to analyze your motives because if it's flimsy and you decide to quit one day, or if you happen to flunk, there goes thousands of pesos down the drain. Once you start your studies in a particular med school, you grit your teeth and bear it because transferring to another med school will mean you will start from square one.

As early as my first week, I encountered several hurdles- some minor ones like adjusting to the new environment, but largely it was getting used to the rigors of med school that was unsettling. Being a BSN graduate, I had the assumption that I'd have an easy time since we had our background of basic sciences like organic chemistry and anatomy, but I was mistaken. Turned out our discussions in Biochemistry, Histology, and Physiology were superficial, and it was only upon stepping into med school did I realize the enormity of the scope of those subjects.

There is the challenge of being able to fit everything into schedule. On a daily basis, you have to read in advance before coming to class (in order to wipe that blank look on your face during lectures) and read after class, and eventually reviewing once more prior to exams. The amount of new information you take in each day is overwhelming- pathways, structures, functions, computations, clinical correlations- and I'm just talking about Biochem. There are bones, ligaments, fossa, tuberosities I have never heard of, charts and nerves and networks of vessels hidden beneath the stinging formalin-saturated cadaver in front of you. Each time I go home I try to force myself to read but sometimes I'm too tired or my brain is just spilling over with information from the day's discussion that I fall asleep. Then I wake up at 3am to read.

The worst part would have to be after all the faithful preparations, you still find the exams tricky and difficult. But like one med student from PLM posted in her blog, it is not necessarily the smartest who survive in med school- it is the most adapted. So below are some steps to make life a little bit easier:

1. Create a timetable of what to read based on the syllabus; prioritize accordingly. If Embryology is just 10% of your Gross and Clinical Anatomy grade, then by all means study Anatomy first.

2. Organize your notes and books. Even if we have 8 subjects, the number of references may very well almost reach 20. This is because some books may explain certain concepts better than your "official" reference.

3. Read. There's the 1st reading which is just an overview, then next you read again and digest even the smallest detail- highlighting the important points.

4. Note what your professor includes and emphasizes during the lectures- the exams are likely based on what they discussed.

5. There are many approaches to learning- draw structures, make charts, simplify data. Customize or devise your own, suited to your learning style.

6. Memorize what needs memorizing.

7. Self-evaluation/ testing by end chapter exercises or reviewers.

And here's the catch: more often than not, you won't have enough time to do all this. Your skill in adapting new strategies now comes in.

The most important advice is to enjoy and make your experience in med school meaningful- going beyond self-enrichment as a motive, but rather becoming a good physician and serve society to the best of one's abilities.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Petty Politics- A Disgrace!

Shame on the city officials and the politicians who cast their bitter feud on the streets today. Don't people have the right to assemble and celebrate in honor of Sto. Nino? They've sunk to a new low. Dapat magkaurusa kun patron, out of respect. Shame on you people! Help make a stand by clicking here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Warm Reception for My PDI Article

Lou from the United Kingdom

"Hi Thad, I read your article in the Inquirer today... Just to let you know of two things. First, it brought tears to my eyes. I identified with your parents - how they sacrificed a lot. Luckily for them, you and your brothers did good with your studies. I am unlucky in that sense. After years of working here in the UK as a nurse my financial support to send my nephews and nieces to school was all for naught. Anyway, secondly, I like your writing style. The whole article was written in short, simple yet concise sentences - I thought Ernest Hemingway wrote in the same fashion. You write with restrain and come across beautifully. And you end your story very well - you brought me as your reader to the opening of your article. I think they call it "circularity". Lovely. Thank you very much.

Teacher Alon from Batangas

I just wanted to say that I like your column in Young Blood published today in the Inquirer. I am a hardcore fan of Young Blood and I was deeply touched by your writings. Your story is so inspiring that I am planning to share it to my high school students... I hope u can write more articles next time when you're not busy.

God bless you and may you find the happiness you deserve.

J. from Manila, GMA Network researcher and writer

"I realized a lot of things because of your 'Katas ng Saudi'. More power."


It's been my habit to read PDI during the night. I find it hard to read it in the morning for my job's a priority. It is during the night that I am home alone hence, I'm at peace and focused... Well, in reading. I happened to read this last night and I couldn't help but cry.

"As I touched the urn holding her ashes, I suddenly remembered the day she held me in her arms while we were on a boat bound for Manila." - your closing piece made my heart bleed. Kudos and more power.


A story that younger generation ought to have read...

Andrey from Carigara

Hi Thad.. I am completely enthralled by the very emotion you felt as you write your beautiful story.. I salute you for being who you are now despite the many tragic events in your life, the lost chance to spend with your family while growing up and the many subsequent difficulties you went thru while living your life alone, while your parents work away from you. I am currently here in SAUDI, I know the feelings of not being there with my family on special occasions.. I know the feelings of not being able to produce a considerable amount of money which I may use to finance a small business for me to just stay there with them. I know the feelings that is why I feel for you..

All I can say is congratulations because, unlike most of the children of OFWs, you made yourself the best person you can be, and you are the best..

You have a gift Thad, you are a storyteller.. you have captured us with the story to gave us, YOUR story...Congrats and God Bless you.


Thad, your life story is very touching. I do agree with you that migration abroad leaves the family separated and the growing children missed the tender loving care of the parents who just wanted to earn better living for the children they left behind. In your case, you were left behind and never was able to rejoin your family when they migrated to USA, I would surmise because you were not eligible anymore due to your age then. Your parents maybe called "modern heroes" by the government, but the honest truth is they were the role model of your life. Good luck to you and may you find success here in the Philippines. I was also a Filipino and now a citizen of an adopted country (North America), just like your parents, it has also been my dream to give my children the best of life that evaded me while in the Philippines, unfortunately I left a son in the Philippines and because when I migrated here 17 years ago he was already inelligible (by age) to join us and until now he is denied visa even to visit us because the embassy suspect that he might stay and work here. The embassy too adds to the woes of families to be together.


Very eloquent. You will be a very good asset to the medical profession not only as a doctor but as a spokesman on how to value family. I am a cop working here in the Philippines, but most often I am also away from home because work brings me everywhere. Your piece made me revisit the basics. Well, I had done the first step: This summer, I asked my wife and kids to stay with me in my place of assignment! This gave us more bonding time and for the kids to have a break from breathing the polluted air of Metro Manila.


To Thaddeus - my heartfelt sympathies for your loss. Your story was poignant, but you write beautifully. I hope that your story would help our people understand that overseas work/diaspora is not the answer as the personal/social costs greatly outweighs the short-term economic benefits.


Straight from the heart... Very touching I am also working here abroad and as a father I clearly understand the feeling of a son longing for there parents who are always away. Thaddeus the feeling is mutual when your mom and dad was away you and your brother is there inspiration while working abroad. SACRIFICE..is the penultimate thing for any Filipinos working abroad.. always remember the sacrifices your mother and father this is for your future not for themselves...

Marmon from Penang

Hello Thad,

I really searched your name in Google just to find a way to communicate with you. I've just read your "piece" in Youngblood column in Philippine Daily Inquirer. I can say, I really like it! It is the same piece that I had been proclaiming to my friends who are married and intends to work outside the Philippines.

doc_roy from Pinoy MD

You write like F. Sionil Jose, keep it up.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Samar Solstice

Click on the image to see the whole article.
Incidentally, I have a Travel Blog with the same name Samar Solstice
which features lots of beautiful places- not just in Samar Island anymore
but around the Philippines...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Thoughts on the Reproductive Health Bill

In government hospitals, we get to see the real state of health care in our country. I remember a particular duty when I scrubbed for a Caesarean Section, the patient, Juanita (not her real name), a 15 year old barrio lass, lay anxiously on the operating table. One can't help but feel pity for someone so young to undergo one of the most life-changing events in the life of a woman with so little knowledge or experience. Teenage pregnancies are considered high risk pregnancies, and with little to no prenatal check-ups, may contribute to statistics of maternal mortalities because of complications.

Juanita's case is only one of the many examples wherein education about sexuality and reproductive health could have helped. The recent clamor about the Reproductive Health Bill was largely centered on the Catholic Church's protest over artificial contraception as a means to control the burgeoning population. I am a Catholic myself, and have been schooled mostly in Catholic schools from Elementary, Secondary to Tertiary level, however being a nurse also means I have to be a patient advocate. It is not in my position to tell people that artificial contraception "is bad" and that natural methods "are good"- but rather provide all the information about both methods without bias and allow the patient to decide for themselves. Section 3, No.5 of House Bill 4244 states precisely that.

Note that HB 4244 also recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, however those women who are needing care post abortion (remember, there is a difference between an induced abortion and a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion- though in both cases involves the expulsion of the products of conception and the fetus before the age of viability) must be treated without judgment. Another favorable provision in the RH bill is the mention of Gender Equality- which was defined as "absence of discrimination on the basis of a person's sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in opportunities, allocation of resources or benefits and access to services."

Going back to Juanita's case, I begin to wonder- had she been aware of the changes in her body as an adolescent- the fertility cycle, the risks of pregnancy, the enormous responsibility of being a parent, the cost of milk, diapers, and clothes, and the cost of education- had she been aware of all these, would she make the same decision? Not to pass judgment here, because there could be a number of reasons and circumstances why that pregnancy occurred, but my point is: if teenagers were aware not only of the risks but also the responsibilities, would that prompt them to be more prudent with their actions? The argument that age-appropriate sex education in school (Section 16 in HB 4244) undermines the role of parents to provide this to their children may not always be true in all families. From my own experience growing up, my parents and grandparents were so conservative that sex was an "off-limits" topic, and I would usually learn more about “the flowers and the birds" from friends and classmates. In sex education, the purpose is not to titillate or spill out lewd details, but merely to present in clinical manner, the facts about human sexuality.

The RH bill gives couples a chance to determine for themselves the size of their family, so that each child would be provided well with basic needs and education. Stating unbiased facts about both natural and artificial planning also ensures that people will make informed decisions in reproductive health. Indeed, a progressive country begins with healthy and responsible parents who plan and provide for their families- so I am personally for the RH Bill to be enacted as law.

Image source

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Father,Myself

Click on the image to take you to The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online
This article for Father's Day is dedicated to my late father Danilo "Danny"Hinunangan, and to all fathers in the world.


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