8 Things I Gave Up Before Joining Med School

I’m a multipassionate person. I like doing a lot of things at the same time. Aside from studying, I handle a lot of social media accounts for marketing, websites and online communities, I work as a freelancer and I blog on multiple blogs. During college years, it was kind of manageable but it was already tiresome and there were times I had to really set aside the other to complete the other. My med student friends have been warning me that in med school multi-tasking won’t bring me good. I was told that I really had to give up things to survive med school. As much as I wanted to keep doing what I used to do and live without pressures of following demands and detailed instructions (I used to do things on my own way since I work as a freelancer), I have to acquire a more disciplined, focused and goal-oriented lifestyle. I got a pinch of what med school is but I would not really know what it looks like unless I am already in med school myself. Before joining med school, I am preparing myself by reducing time consuming activities, getting rid of distractions, adapting a fit lifestyle and renovating the place where I live to become a minimalist, study-friendly, comfortable and relaxing place. By doing these, I am becoming ready to accept whatever demands and commands med school would require me. I would adjust less difficult because I already prepared myself to it. I ruined much of myself when I encountered burnout and I’m doing my best not to reach that point again. So here are the detailed list of things I gave up before joining med school;

Freelancing — as of the moment, I still am working on few projects that I already committed myself into. I’m not anymore accepting further projects as a solo freelancer. Freelancing is a time consuming job. I’m now focused on passive ways to earn online – monetizing my blogs.

Some of my websites — I’m managing a lot of websites before but now I’m only managing 3 fully developed websites, 2 parked domains. I sold and leased some of my websites. I still have many remaining but I’m not requiring myself to update these often. I have one for a religious purpose, one is a canvas of my writinggasm and the others are for profit and investment.

Some of my social media accounts — I’m using social media wiser now. I don’t demand myself to post often but just when I really need to especially promoting my blog contents. I also gave away some social media accounts that aren’t beneficial but are merely distraction.

Ineffective study habit — My current study habit won’t help me in med school. I am currently trying to figure out a study habit while I’m on my last academic trimester and while studying for my licensure exam.

Boxes of stuff — I decluttered my closet, and my entire place. I gave away and trashed boxes of stuff that I piled up in my 4 years stay here in Manila. I prefer to keep less things — those that I usually use. Too much stuff means more things to clean, maintain and give space to. I prefer a minimal home set-up since I’m living alone and med school may drain almost all my time. I want a place I can clean up easily and keep clothes I can wash without getting too tired. So, that I don’t have to spend too much time in household chores.

Sedentary lifestyle — Although I’m exhausted almost everyday, mostly of my work are sitting and not that heavy tasks. I’m more mentally exhausted. I admit that in the past year, I’ve been trapped in a sedentary lifestyle that did no good in my overall health. I can’t keep myself like this in med school. I’m performing better in academics and extra curricular activities when I’m fit and physically active.

Being introvert — I’d been in between introvert and extrovert but recently I’ve been more of an introvert due to low self esteem, life pressures and self-doubts. And, I’m not comfortable with this kind of set-up anymore. I want to lessen spending most of my time alone and start putting value in my relationships with family, relatives and friends. I have to be more vocal, exploratory and sociable especially that my chosen career is dealing with all types of people.

Fear of blood, surgery and such medical things — It came to the point that I doubted myself of being a doctor due to these fears. But, I had to get rid of these fears to open door of love with the medical field.

These are just few of the changes I have to accept before joining med school. I know there are more I have to change, give up, adjust and adapt in order for me to survive med school. It’s going to be a tough journey and I’m preparing myself to it as much as possible.

For more of my med school related blog posts, visit Med School Entries.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

Choosing Med School Again

My journey to dreaming, quitting and choosing med-school again

After years of thinking that I was just being forced to take up medicine and that I was deprived of discovering my passions, I gave up my medical dream to find out if I’m better doing something else. On my most confused point, I wrote about — Is Being a Medical Doctor my Calling?

My internship in Saudi Arabia is one of the big things that happened to me last year. I was an internee as a dietitian in Saudi German Hospital. I enjoyed everything about my training although I had a slight problem with communicating with some of the patients who are native Arabs. Despite the language barrier, I did my best to do my job and I enjoyed it a lot. The training exposed me to the hospital set-up and to the healthcare team. It opened a lot of opportunities and realizations — that include the realization that I want to become a doctor. It was something that I did not want to entertain because I already gave up that medical dream to discover something else. But during those moments I stopped thinking about being a doctor and started planning out something else about my future, my medical dream has become closer to my heart again.

After my internships in a food service facility and in a hospital setting, I spent the remaining 250 hours at HOPE — for exceptional needs in Jeddah which is a school/center for special children. During my internship there, I learned a lot about different medical conditions of special children and I observed how hands on the staff are in helping the children with various therapies and learning activities. That ability to help others is self-fulfilling. I was also exposed to different medical professions — nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, etc. They all play significant roles to the patients’ life. But, I found myself wanting to help others as a medical doctor.

After more than a year of giving up my medical dream, I end up back here. I’m choosing (again) the path to becoming a medical doctor. This time, it’s my decision. Aside from wanting to make my parents happy by pursuing the career they visualize me to take, I have a lot more reasons that pushed me to pursue medicine. My faith in Allah made me realize that my calling is to be a doctor and that I’m best to grow as a person in this field.

I arrived here in Philippines 3 months ago. Within 3 months, I already took up the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) and started the application process to medical schools here in Manila. There are more things that I need to do to officially enroll in a med school — graduating with BS Nutrition and Dietetics degree is first in the list. There is a long journey and a lot more challenges that I have to go through to get that MD degree.

My faith in Allah made me visualize clearly what career I’d be best at. Because of that, I’ll be work hard on becoming a doctor, even though it is only I am the one left believing in me and supporting me. As a young child, I dreamed of becoming a doctor for personal interest, the idea that doctors are respected, rich and inspirational impressed me. But now as a matured young lady, I still dream the same dream but now it is not mainly because of personal interests but to help other people especially the people in my province in Mindanao where there’s a scarcity of doctors, public and mental health advocates, and other medical services due to poverty. There’s really a lack of health education there. My grandfather made me realize the need of a medical doctor in my hometown and I hope to serve them in the future. I’ve not lived there yet and I’m planning to move there after med school and medical internship. May Allah make me an instrument to help people through medical and public health services/programs/education. I believe there’s so much to fix in my hometown and I hope I’d be able to contribute in my own way.

I entrust myself, and this journey of mine, in Allah. None of these plans is going to happen without His approval. I still am not sure with all the plans I wrote here because nothing is really certain for us to have but our present. But, the idea that I’m now close to my medical dream makes me emotional. Honestly, there were times when regret haunt me at night, what if I didn’t falter when I was a freshman college student and everything I visualized came true — graduating from college on time, joining med school right after, graduating from med school at the age of 23. But, things don’t go as planned and that’s alright. At the age of 23, I’m just about to start my med school journey. 4 years late than expected but the timing is just perfectly right.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

Student Dietitian’s Confession: Is Being a Medical Doctor My Calling?

Growing up, I didn’t understand why my parents kept on encouraging me to be a medical doctor. I knew since then that they want only the best for me. But, I wondered why being a medical doctor was the only career they thought I would be successful at.

Since grade school, I believed that my fate when I grow up was to be a medical doctor. I’d answer every “what do you want to be?” question with “I want to be a doctor.” If you would ask me why, I wouldn’t know what to answer. Right after graduating high school, I only had one option — to take up a pre-medical course. My dad wanted me to take up Nursing while my mom wanted me to take up Biology. I chose Biology because it was what I thought was close to my interest. I thought.

One thing my school failed to do was to introduce us to different course programs. So most of us relied to what our family suggested us to take. My choices were so limited that I had to choose which was a little bit closer to what I find cool. I had good grades in high school Biology so I thought college Biology would interest me too. But, I was wrong.

During my second year of doing Biology at the university, I felt that I was heading to nowhere. I realized I was not really interested in what I was doing since the day 1 at the university. That moment made me realize that I was just doing everything because I had no choice. I grew up more matured and I realized that I actually had a choice, I was in the right age to decide on my own already.

At the end of the academic year, I made my first toughest decision that was completely decided by me. That was, having a break from studies to find out what I really wanted to do in my life. I’d say that was one of the scariest, toughest yet right decision I made in my life. That act seems stupid and immature because I wasted 2 years of my parents’ money, 2 years of my time and 2 years of expectations from people. But, for me that was so right.

It was tough because everyone was calling me a Doctor expecting me to graduate as a medical doctor very soon. I was asked several times by my relatives and family how many years more I had to take to graduate. But, I had to make a decision for myself.

I didn’t want to please people while hurting myself.

I took a break.

I went back to Saudi Arabia, to my family. It was supposedly a two-month long vacation. After two months, while they were excited to send me off back to the Philippines to continue their medical dream for me, I was in awe. I was wishing that my flight would be moved — or better canceled.

Thanks to my mom who already knew and felt I was having a problem. I agree that Moms know well when their children are not okay. And, that’s amazing.

She asked me a week before my flight about what’s happening and I told her about everything — I got depressed, I stopped studying, I had failed grades, I was not happy with what I was doing, I needed a break and I was totally sorry. She understood and told me that I should tell that to my dad. But I was scared — very scared.

The day before my flight, mom noticed I hadn’t told dad anything yet. So, she told dad herself. Although dad did not scold me or anything, I knew he was a bit disappointed. Flight was canceled. After a long time, I felt free and comfortable with my life again despite the fact that I was clueless of what’s with the road ahead of me. But, I believed everything was part of God’s plans and there’s something cool and awesome plans waiting for me. I just had to work for it and to achieve it myself.

I enrolled at a business school in Saudi Arabia — but after few months I was told that my enrollment was canceled due to requirement issue. That was again another discouragement for me. I felt that I wasted my parents’ money again.

My dad then suggested that I should go back to Philippines and continue my Biology course. But, I was not ready. I wanted that when I go back to the Philippines, I wanted to go back with new hopes, new goals and new course that I’m happy with. I didn’t want to take up any course that I would fail again because I am not happy with it.

18 months passed by, a lot of things happened. I focused on proper nutrition and exercise. I lost weight, which was good. I worked at an insurance department at a hospital, which was good. I studied Islamic studies and focused with Tajweed, which was good. I started blogging seriously, which was good. I felt I regained myself and my identity. I discovered more of my abilities.

After 18 months, I knew I was already ready to leave to pursue my dreams — dreams that are mine. I went back to the Philippines with my own dream which is to become a better person and become closer to success at all aspects of life. I went back and enrolled for Nutrition and Dietetics course. Something that is considered a pre-medical course, but I’m taking it not because it is a pre -medical course but because it is a field I believe I could grow professionally and help others. I didn’t close door to medical school, but I focused on learning Nutrition and Dietetics more. I explored and observed it out as a totally different field. I observed myself as a dietitian student.

Taking up this course has never been easy. I was laughed at because people thought that the Doctor-to-be became a Cooking expert. First, my course is not Culinary Arts. Nutrition and Dietetics is a health allied course. Yes, we had to cook various types of diets including special diets. But the profession is more about the effects of the food, in the form of nutrients, to our body, prescribing meals to patients with special needs, education others about proper Nutrition, guiding a client to a healthy lifestyle, etc. Also, there’s nothing wrong with the idea that Doctor-to-be turns into a cooking expert or chef. Culinary arts, just like any other course, is a respected and competitive field.

Despite those — I survived the years of taking up this course. Now I’m closer to wearing my graduation cap and gown. I discovered a lot about myself since I overcome my fears and stood up with my own decisions.

I’m currently having my academic trimester break. I’m back in Saudi Arabia, again. My family have already planned things and considered that right after my graduation — I’m going to enter medical school. They really want that MD for me with sincere intentions. But, other people were encouraging me to join Med school because they thought my course is useless. I was told that being a medical doctor is the only way I would be successful in life and having just ND degree is not going to bring me anywhere. Of course, their comments do not matter to whether I’d pursue medicine or not.

Although I’m not closing doors to medical school, it does not mean, I’m now ready to enter that new chapter of life. Just like how I needed the freedom to decide for myself on choosing my college degree — I need the same freedom to decide whether or not I’m going to proceed to medical school.

Honestly, I have fears. I’m scared to tell my parents that I need some time to think about proceeding to medical school. I know sooner — I’d be brave again to tell them that my success isn’t limited to having a Medical Doctor degree. In fact, it could even ruin me if I force myself to do it for the sake of just pursuing other people’s dreams.

A year from now — I maybe at the medical school or doing something else. But, whatever I will be doing I will make sure it is something I decided for myself not something I did to please people.

And, I hope you too do the same. Don’t do something for the sake of pleasing other people or just because you are scared to be hated by others. Let your time to discover and to explore your calling. Overcome fear and pursue your calling with courage. Accomplishing your purpose while doing something you are passionate with is what will make you successful in life.

[Update: After one year, I wrote about Choosing Medschool Again]

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

On Becoming A Dietitian (And My Stress Management Tips)

Academic things have become stressful this semester due to the pressure our professors have been giving to us. I don’t blame them. Actually, I am excited and challenged with how things are happening at the moment. I actually wished for this! There were those times that I felt not that challenged with my course, and I so I wished for some challenge cause I believe through it I will improve and learn.

So, although there are times that it’s getting annoying especially when your efforts aren’t enough to meet the expectation of your professors or when you are tasked to do something yet at the end your professor would tell you’ve done it the wrong way  as if they provided a complete instruction and the do’s and don’ts…. I remain patient.

This article isn’t to rant about anything but about how I manage the academic stress these days. How I manage to still do the things I love to do despite the load of assignments my professors are assigning us.

Control who and what is surrounding you 

Your life is like a teacup and if you keep on loading it with too many things, it will spill. You can’t put too many things in it and enjoy it. So, if you fill it wrong people and wrong things, there will be no space for good people and good things.The wrong things and people bring all types of stress. The right people and things bring joy and contentment. Choose who and what you allow to get your attention.

Be good to yourself

Allow yourself to have a quality time by doing what you love to do. You need to treat yourself gently so it won’t betray you at the end. Yes! Based on my experience, people betray themselves when they deprive themselves of their right to do what they love. Don’t overdo things! Don’t pressure yourself. Let your professors alone  do that on you.

Exercise your body

If you need a happiness and anti-stress drug, have a workout! Exercise  releases endorphins, which have been shown to improve one’s mood, making it a great way to deal with stress.

Don’t procrastinate

If you are given a task, don’t neglect it. It’s your obligation to do what is assigned to you. If possible, complete it before the deadline and so you may enjoy the time later without rushing yourself. To avoid procrastination, prioritize which is more important. Do those things that are important and later you may do those things that don’t need a deadline. Do your academic assignments first, before doing any other tasks. If you need a break, have it. But, don’t forget to complete your task.

Feed yourself and avoid poisoning your body

Surely, your mind has been polluted with ideas about what a healthy diet looks like and what proper nutrition really is.  Some say that less carb is healthy, while others say less fat is. But, what really is a healthy diet? Balanced diet. It’s not about depriving yourself of your favorite food.  Learn more about what things called trans fat, MSG, low fat prepared food, tap water, caffeine, sugar are doing to your body. Malnutrition causes stress in your body so get the right information and make great choices!

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

In 5 Years Time

Not interesting, just another storytelling about my life.

I graduated high school at the age of 15, went to the Philippines, studied in a new place with a language I’ve never heard of, lived alone in an apartment at the age of 16, and took a course I was not sure of in a very well known university.

In those 2 years time, I learned a lot about being independent which is too different from the life I used to growing up. I was a very dependent child. I couldn’t wash my own clothes, prepare a good meal and even clean my own room. I was very competitive when I was in high school so my thoughts were just focused on studying. My relatives described me as “the kid who studies even when watching TV” Sometimes I even brought notes with me when we travel. That was just what I knew, to study (and to eat).

At senior year, just like any Filipino kid in Saudi, I also wanted to go in the Philippines to pursue my studies and to discover more about life. At first, my family didn’t want me to go because I’d be alone, I’d be departed from them and that I’m a girl. But, just like any parents they also want the good for their children and my parents have their trust in me. So, I was sent to the Philippines. Although it was so hard for me to leave, I was also excited of the life I’d been curious about.

When I arrived, I enrolled right away. I got a high score in the entrance exam which made me qualified to take BS Biology. It was a huge university. Few weeks after, I lost weight traveling from one room to another (and that was a good thing). I felt really glad because everything seemed to be like a dream. New university, new experiences, new place, new friends, and new life. That’s too exciting for a 15 year old right? Everything seemed to be alright. I enjoyed being a Biology student because everything was my first, but later at the end of the day I was so doubtful. Am I sure with what I’m doing?

Twice a year I go back to Saudi for vacation, and every time I was departing from my family to go back to the Philippines was heartbreaking. Of course because I’d miss them, but the other thing is… because I’m not anymore happy with the reason why I’m leaving them. I knew that I didn’t want Biology anymore as the field I want to see myself grow up with. I actually didn’t want it at the first place, I just thought I do.

My mistake was that, I didn’t tell them right away when I was first year. I even let another year to pass by. I was so scared because I saw them being so happy for me. So I pretended that I am doing well in Biology. But pretensions can’t last long, and pretensions hurt. So during my 4th vacation back to Saudi, that was the end of my 2nd year in Biology, I told them the truth that I don’t want to continue the Biology program. I couldn’t take anymore to be back in the Philippines fooling myself and my family. My mom was my strength, she keeps on motivating me and encouraging me to follow the path I really want for myself. She was the one who was telling me to tell dad sooner. So, I did. I saw the sadness in my dad’s face, but I didn’t expect that he would still support me 101%, give me another chance, and show me that everything is going to be alright.

What I only knew was that, I didn’t want Biology anymore. But, I didn’t know what I want. So, I stayed more than a year in Saudi finding myself. I insisted to enroll to a Business School in Jeddah. Although the process was so difficult for a non-Arab to enroll in a university for college, my family supported me. After a semester, I was expelled because of some disqualifications in my documents. As a young girl, those kinds of events were discouraging and failures. Seeing my friends doing good in college, and about to graduate, while I’m undecided of what I want and even when I attempted, I failed. I felt really sad. Several times I lost hope.

My parents didn’t leave me, although I was very disappointed with myself, they keep on encouraging me to find me. They keep on pulling me closer to the Almighty and keep on telling me that everything happens is by His will, and that He never plans something that is bad for us. Truly, we see some things as bad only because we don’t know yet the reasons behind those. My journey back to Allah (SWT) was one of the great reasons why those happened. Truly, He tests us so we turn back to Him. One day, I just discovered what I really wanted. And right away, my family supported me.

I came back to the Philippines a year ago and took Nutrition and Dietetics. The discovery of how and why I chose this field was another long boring story. But, through prayers I was able to find myself. I came back stronger, (maybe) wiser, more faithful and optimistic. My past experiences made me see life positively and appreciate adversity.

In 5 years time, almost all my batch mates in high school already graduated in college and are graduating this coming month, while I still have a long way to take to make it. But, it’s all right.  My college journey might be different, and longer than the usual but it is what made it unique.  I appreciate every bit of it, both the joyful moments and difficulties.

The reason why I’m encouraging everyone to choose the field they really want for themselves and not let other people tell them what they should be, because if you really love what you do… you’ll never feel like giving up. Every adversity you will face throughout your journey will just make you stronger. Don’t waste time to something that doesn’t make you happy and that won’t make you grow.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks