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A flunkie’s aborted dream |

Young Star

A flunkie’s aborted dream

Hi Marc,

I need your advice. I am a first year medical student from De La Salle University. Being a doctor was a childhood dream for me. I almost had my dreams in my pocket when I suddenly flunked two of my subjects: Biochemistry and Anatomy. It was a devastating experience for me to see my dreams fall apart. The only thing I did was give my best; I hardly had a chance to breathe. I don’t know the reason why I failed. Part of me wants to try again but another tells me to stop and kiss my dreams goodbye. Or is this just a blessing in disguise?

Thanks and God bless. – Foxy_doc

Life was never meant to be easy, and you’ve chosen an especially hard course to take up. Most people don’t have the drive or ability to even make it to med school, so you should be proud that you’ve made it this far. That being said, you shouldn’t rest on the laurels of your high school grades. If this is really your dream, then you are going to have to put in some real effort to realize it.

With the exception of those few annoyingly blessed souls with a photographic memory and an overactive cerebellum (Jealous?! Me? Of course not! Darn smarty pants...), us mere mortals are always put through the academic wringer at some stage in the university. For me it was my first year. Not only did I ambitiously take an overfull course load, but some pretty hefty subjects as well (Actuarial Studies and Statistics are not something you should take for fun). Suffice it to say, I did pretty miserably in my first semester. However, my lousy performance made me realize that getting a degree is not all fun, games and college parties (although the social life was a blast).

Even though I thought I had worked pretty hard those first few months, I knew deep down that I could have done better, worked harder and studied longer. You say that you gave your best, but if you really think about it, I’m sure you could think of some instances when you were daydreaming a bit in class, or maybe even skipped one altogether. How about those times you went out for coffee or a movie with friends when you could have been reading through your course notes? I’m not suggesting that you become a social hermit, just that your studies should take priority.

You should also examine why you failed those two subjects in particular. In my case, I often didn’t do well in a subject if I didn’t like the person teaching it. At the university level you probably don’t get to know your lecturers that well, so maybe you just have difficulty understanding the subjects. With such technical courses as Biochemistry and Anatomy, I imagine it would be easy to fall behind if you didn’t understand even one lesson. If this is the case, you could try spending time in the library reading up a bit on the subjects of the following week. At least that way you’ll already have a general idea of what your teacher is talking about when you do get to class and therefore have a better chance of understanding the specifics, or concentrating on the areas that confused you in your advanced reading.

Another good tip is to rewrite your notes after class. It may seem tedious and time consuming, but often in class you don’t have the time to think about nor understand what you are writing. Not only that, but what you jot down is often written so fast that it becomes a bit jumbled up. Combine that with the fact that you’re writing down someone else’s words, and reading through your notes months later can become more of a jigsaw puzzle than a study session. By rewriting your notes while the lesson is still fresh in your mind, you can interpret and put them into words that are easier for you to understand, and also look up or ask a classmate about the parts you may have missed or been confused about.

A study partner is also a good idea. I often talk about getting a workout partner when going to the gym, and the concept of a study partner is basically the same idea. Motivation. If someone else is there to push you to study, and vice versa, then you’re a lot more likely to do it. It also means that you’ll have someone to discuss things with, and won’t be as bored or lonely reading and deciphering things on your own. Just make sure that you do actually study, not just sit around gossiping!

Of course if you honestly do feel that medicine is beyond your ability, then make a decision now. It’s better to change your course early on rather than slave away for a few more years before realizing you won’t be able to finish, in which case it was just a waste of time. Not saying that you won’t have learned a lot, just that you could have used that time and hard work in completing a different degree.

Ultimately the decision is yours. It’s your life and only you know the true extent of your abilities. Don’t be afraid of hard work, as the rewards of being a doctor are a just compensation for studying medicine. That being said, you shouldn’t make yourself miserable for a dream you don’t think you can achieve. Be realistic and honest with yourself and I think you’ll see which is the right path.
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