Jonathan Espejo Sy, M.D.

Class of 2017

University of the Philippines College of Medicine

That’s a line I’ve heard from friends, colleagues, and mentors alike.

I remember wanting to become a doctor when I was a kid. Nobody told (most of) us the angst and anguish it takes to get into and graduate from medical school, to say nothing of residency, fellowship, and beyond, because that is just the beginning.

That was my flaw. I saw nothing in my future but being a doctor.

Being. Not becoming. Being.

You would think that I would dispense with that kind of thinking as I grew up. Did I tell you I was INTARMED?

Cue the immaturity boilerplates!

If you asked me why I wanted to become a doctor when I was still applying for colleges, I’d probably give you the same bullsh*t boilerplates you used in your interviews. But this one takes the cake:

Q: How do you deal with disappointment?

A: I just go home and eat a whole tube of Oreos with milk.

To this day, I wonder how differently I would have done my interview with this state of mind, ten years, two failed classes, two graduations, and two board exams later. I would love to take a look at my interview file.

Taking the road less traveled seems to be fashionable nowadays. I could say the same with personal growth and maturity. I didn’t know how to deal with disappointment and failure until it had happened to me. It was disappointment from how medical school didn’t meet my expectations, and failing to get the job done despite the disappointment. To put it in another way, the system wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t do everything that could have been done to the best of my ability.

It didn’t help that we have that system of exemption for the anatomy exams. It carries the non-zero risk of undue psychological suffering. “Lowest 20% of the class.”

Where am I going with this?

Each of you has your own story to make and share. Don’t let anyone make you think for even a minute that it doesn’t mean squat. You didn’t work your ass off to make it into the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines, get this far, and get shot down just like that. So what if you’re just as interested in things outside medicine? You’ll never know when and where you’ll need them, so don’t throw them away. Take pride in what sets you out from the rest. Help others find that within them. Pull each other up. That’s what you want. That’s what we need.


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