As a writer and best man speech jokes writer too who is talking med school, I had this silly fantasy that somehow I will make it to a good training hospital someday. I cut out their names and pasted them on my notebook as “inspiration”. Dr. Gauiran, because we had the same name (That could be me, I thought) and Dr. Gacutno, because she was an alumnus of RTRMF who made it to PGH. The quest was on in medical school, all seventy five of us fought for the right to wear that white coat. By the end of first year, I was shocked when the rankings came out, I was probably in the thirties. The top twenty five had been assigned as leaders in research groups and a few of my classmates knew I ranked fourth out of nearly two hundred in Nursing school expected I was up there. Slowly I learned from my mistakes of being too cavalier in the first year, so from then on I sat in front, forced myself to read and take down notes. When they announced I was rank one in General Pathology, I thought I finally made it to top ten. As I scanned the list, I was disappointed, the registrar said grades were compiled and averaged from first year onwards, which meant my first year grades had really hurt my chances. I was rank eleven and I thought, if I don’t make it to top ten in third year, I can forget about applying to PGH for internship.
As we put down our pens during the last exam in the third year, I waited with bated breath. When the results came out and I saw my name on the sixth rank, well it wasn’t the most ideal, but I had made it! I sent my application for internship to PGH, and as they say, the rest was history. I thought, wow, I will finally be able to see in person the authors of IM Platinum, see consultants who were luminaries in their field like Dr. Abarquez. It was incidentally during my third year in medical school when I read Health and Lifestyle magazine which I saw in our consultant’s office. I sent my first article “Of Dreamers and Doctors”.
One of the strangest things that occurred to me happened now during my first year as a pathology resident. I was evaluating blood request forms when I saw a request by Dr. Gauiran who was now a Hematology fellow. As I used my self-inking stamp as I approved his request, it was an unreal feeling knowing that I was just once just another student in the province reading his book. Now, presenting surgical pathology cases for the Obstetrics and Gynecology, Neurosciences, Neurosurgery, and autopsy for an Internal Medicine audit in front of some of the most respected experts in their own fields was surreal and terrifying to say the least.
Of course the dream came with much too high a cost- I had to leave home. It wasn’t just leaving our residence in Leyte per se, it was moving out of my comfort zone. Facing extremely challenging tasks alone with less than gentle consultants, who unlike our mentors in the province, don’t know about where we come from or the struggles that we had or the sacrifices we made to be here. Nonetheless, it was a necessary choice.
Late in 2017, I was asked if I could start a column here in Health and Lifestyle. It was another one of those strange feelings (can somebody pinch me?) that unleashed questions as to whether I am ready for such a task. Life is strange sometimes, we are given opportunities and challenges when we least expect it, but I had a good feeling this would be among the tasks I’d be glad to accomplish. Seeing my name in the impressive roster of H&L columnists left me humbled and in awe.
I have contemplated on several names for the column: “Life and Everything in Between” which was generic, “The Emancipation of Thadie” which was the name of my ten year-old blog, but I believed I also had grown out of it. I wanted a column that would reflect real issues and stories of real people. Then I remembered that graduation program in 1st year med school called “Out on pass”. I usually spend time contemplating events in a quiet environment outside of the hospital. It allowed me to see things clearly and in other’s perspective as well. I believe I found my title.
We all are dreamers. I still am, despite the fact that I’m almost forty, or despite my current struggles in residency. But without the hustle, our dreams would remain pipe dreams and figments of imagination. My journey may not have been the most conventional, but I’m still here, still working, still struggling, and occasionally when needed, out on pass.