Finding Life Outside Medical School Part 3

8:13:00 AM

Here is the third leg of my blog featuring medical students from UP College of Medicine who excel in both academic and extracurricular activities. Learn from these medical students who are involved in public health advocacies, baking, swimming, photography and game design. The greatest lesson that I learned from these students is that we will always have time for things that we love. Medical school will not be a hindrance in pursuing the things that we love as long as we have proper time management and we know our priorities.

Joyce Gillian Tiam-Lee

I am blessed to be anatomates and mentormates with Joyce. I admire her passion in public health. She's one of the best persons I know when it comes to finding work-life balance. She remains stellar in her academics despite having a lot of extracurricular activities. The Philippines will be in great hands if in the future this person becomes our Department of Health Secretary.

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities?

I always tell myself and others that I can’t “survive” or cope up with the demands of (med) school without my extracurriculars. In my case, it’s community work, my organizations, and badminton. These activities teach me what I can’t learn inside the traditional classroom, but are still relevant to the (health) professional I hope to be someday. With the exposure, for example, to the communities and areas I’ve worked and continue to work with for the past years, I get to hear the actual stories of the nanays and their kids with disabilities, of children with chronic illness, of scholars, of the urban poor—stories that indirectly reflect what works and what else is lacking in our country. It is precisely these stories that drive and push me to do better, and will hopefully allow me to serve more effectively and efficiently and bring people together. Which brings me to my second point: what I treasure most about these activities is that it has allowed me to meet people and colleagues of various backgrounds, to share ideas and collaborate to make this world a better place to live in no matter how little. 

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school?

Balance, for me, is easier said than done. To this day, I still struggle to finish everything that needs to be studied. I don’t think there is any one way to manage time but what works for me is to have a set schedule and adjust from there. Monday nights for example are reserved for badminton, while saturday mornings are reserved for community or org work. Unless there are no changes, I work with this rhythm that I have to finish everything else in between so that I can keep doing what I love doing. Also as much as possible, I never sacrifice my sleep. 

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

Go for it. Ika nga nila “you only live once”. You are not your studies. You are who you want to become. Just make sure to listen to your body—that includes knowing your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed, pause, take a breath and reflect. Rest if you must, but keep going.

Patricia Gan

I admire Trix because she bakes great tasting cookies. Aside from that, she also dances well. I am thankful to Trix because she accepted the challenge to be Vice President for Membership of UP Physician-Scientists' Association. I am confident that Trix can bring UP PSA to greater heights this year. 

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities?

Aside from baking, I also teach, paint, swim and am part of various orgs. Doing things other than study and do requirements allows me to breathe every once in a while even with a busy schedule. It allows me to focus on other things and even helps me focus whenever I'm studying. It keeps me busy in different ways too, which makes me productive in different aspects. Being able to complete different tasks helps me feel motivated and inspired even when I'm not exactly doing things that pertain to my academics. It boosts me whenever I do point my attention back to schoolwork. Aside from all that, my extracurricular activities also help to gain profit. I actually began working for my tuition fee and bills since the beginning of IntarMed, and the habit of earning for myself has really stuck with me. Aside from earning and helping me stay productive, extracurricular activities also help me to relax. I have the tendency to overthink, worry, and generally have negative moods that are hard to swing myself out of. Whenever I'm stuck in those episodes, I like to bake a few cookies or start a new painting, and for a while I feel detached from the world and from my worries. 

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school?

 Like I said, I mostly do my extracurricular activities to take a break from school, which makes them easier to balance since I do them when I'm not in the state of mind to do school work. In retrospect however, I've realized that I made a few changes with my work schedule to factor in my other interests. First of all, I've adapted to working on my own time. I used to be pressured to always be available for group meetings and study sessions, but I found out that they don't work well for me. Many people have different priorities and if I was having a hard time revolving my activities around certain things, I just stopped trying altogether. Instead I would work on my own if it was possible, or contribute in ways that allowed me to work whenever I needed it. For example, instead of joining org committees that would require endless meetings and time contributing with other people, I would try volunteering for publications, which would typically require me to make my own work during my own time. Second, I learned to say no. I still try my best to go to as many events and outings as possible, but I've slowly been training myself to say no. Spreading myself thin was a huge weakness for me back then, and I found out that I could be more effective as a student as well as a member in different orgs when I knew exactly how much effort was expected from me. For example, if I had a few orders of baked goods needed the next day as well as an event, I could either stay up late just to finish both or complete my orders and help with the event in some other way instead. Finally, I found out that I had to accept rest. Rest doesn't always need to be a few hours sitting around and doing nothing. It can come in the form of teaching and seeing your students smile, or in the form of baking and making a few tummies happy. I used to think that there was no time for rest, just work. Now I've found that rest should be factored in just like everything else. 

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

My advice is to just do it. If you're afraid to spend time away from the books too much, or you're scared that you'll have a hard time, then just pick one thing. It doesn't have to be a huge commitment, just something different from med school. Don't worry too much about it because in time, you will adapt. You will find out how much time you really have on your hands, and how much you can do in the span of a day. You will find yourself happier and healthier and you will find something to keep you excited and motivated. Just remember that no one can define the importance of something for you other than you. You prioritize your own life and you choose to do what you want to do. And if extracurricular activities would be on the list of things you want to do then so be it.

Markyn Jared Kho

I know Markyn even before medical school because we're both BS Biology majors from UP Diliman. He is also the resident photographers in IB. He's very passionate in photography. In fact, he is one of the founding members of UPCM Collective which is the photography club of the UP College of Medicine. Markyn is also well known in class because he frequently shares food to the whole class especially during LU3.

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities?

I’m invested in a number of school organizations as well as personal endeavors, but they mostly revolve around my interest in photography and videography. Currently, I’m the Managing Editor of UP Medics, the Official Student Publication of the College of Medicine, the co-founder of The UPCM Collective, which is composed of med students who share a passion for the digital visual arts, and the President of UP Meridian, the Chinese-Filipino Student Organization of the College. I’m also part of the publicity team of my class and of UP MedRhythmics. Both within and outside med school, I work part-time as a freelance photographer specializing in fashion shoots and event coverage (parties, medical conferences, reunions, weddings, pre-nuptials, you name it haha!) Apart from getting to meet and work with many people, I find photography an excellent way to escape the stress of med school. It gives me something to look forward to at the end of a difficult week, and knowing that I’ll be able to preserve the memories of an event important to those people in it makes my work a lot more worthwhile and meaningful. 

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school?

How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school? The bulk of the work in publicity is actually done in the background. Also, thankfully the schedule of event coverage works itself out, since these often happen during Friday nights and weekends, and I can process the photos thereafter on my own time. So I always prioritize my academics first, but I usually make my extracurricular work a breather so I don’t get overwhelmed by the study material. And because I’m “uwian kid”, I take advantage of the the time in school to get as much work done, which serves as additional incentive and learning experience for me to manage my time appropriately. 

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue a particular extracurricular activity while in medical school? Though the academic workload of medical school is heavier than that of high school/undergrad, somehow there’s still a lot of time to get yourself involved in your hobbies and interests. In fact, I believe in well-rounded personal growth and development, especially when you’re knee-deep in the academe. Not only does it allow you to maintain a healthy psyche, but also there are life lessons and practical skills that can only be learned from non-academic endeavors. And don’t beat yourself up if ever you feel guilty about taking time out for yourself to do the things that make you happy. As future doctors, you should be able to take care of yourself before helping others.

Louie Dy

I became friends with Louie because I have heard from my Buddy (Je) that he is a Christian. I also learned that he attends Grace Gospel Church which is a sister church of my church, Grace Bible Church. I added him in Facebook and asked him to join our Bible study. I also invited him to join UP Agape. I admire his passion in learning and his love for God. I always hear that he is one of the stellar students of UPCM Class 2021. 

1. What extracurricular activities do you do while in medical school? What benefits do you get from these extracurricular activities?

My favorite activity is game designing. I would gather plot ideas, share them, or make one myself. I would also browse for softwares and download whichever is the most convenient to use. When it comes to art, music, animaton and other resources, I would search for open-sourced ones. When it comes to coding, I'm more of the type who evaluates and reads codes, making revisions or modifications to suit my needs, rather than generating my own codes. I can still make my own codes, although it would take me an exceedingly long duration.

I like game designing because a game is the culmination of all technical skills such as math, programming, science, logic and artistic skills, such as drawing, coloring, map designing, animation, writing stories. It also makes me better in problem solving. It also teaches me perseverance as making a game is extremely difficult. Depending upon the genre, for example, RPG Games for me take 2-3 years to complete. It also allows me to relate with people who have similar interests; I created a Facebook group, the Game Designing Hobbyists, for enthusiasts or hobbyists who like to share ideas, create ideas, critique a game, or even work on a game.

I would also play the keyboard for the worship team of my church (Grace Gospel Church), during Sunday School and Worship Service. The benefit I'm getting from here aside from honing my skills, is that I find myself connecting to God despite the storm of academic workload. On the other hand, I play the piano on my own free time in order to de-stress and exude my feelings. Whenever I have a random thought or insight, I would write it down and put in on my blog (usually Facebook). I would do swimming as well, although this is highly limited by school work.

2. How do you balance your extracurricular activities and medical school?

I would personally study hard, but not study too much. I would study to a point that I'm satisfied or will not feel a burnout. Since that is the case, I would want to make myself a well-rounded person by writing, blogging, reading books that are not medical books, playing the piano, reading about random information, exploring games online and how they are formed, among other things.

3. Any advice to those medical students planning to pursue extracurricular activity while in medical school?

As one teacher (Ma'am Odessa Joson) two years ago told me, "Huwag kang maging alipin ng siyensiya!"

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