Med Life Crisis: 6 Tips to Survive Med School from Dra. Minguita Padilla

Dra. Minguita Padilla started at the Philippine Eye Research Institute in PGH as a young opthalmologist

VIDEO: 6 Tips to Survive Med School from Dra. Minguita Padilla

Kyla Nievera, World Executives DigestIt’s 3am. Everyone’s fast asleep while here you are, having your third espresso shot since midnight.

THE “MED LIFE” as we know it, is composed of studying, memorizing, fighting sleep in class, stress-eating, breaking down, trying to balance family time, relationships and your social life, wondering what you got yourself into, looking up motivational quotes online, and studying, studying, studying, and endless studying.

If there is one question that you have in mind right now, it’s probably “How do I get out of med school alive?”

So, let us all take a moment to appreciate Dra. Ma. “Minguita” Dominga Padilla for these 6 words of wisdom for those who are living the med life. Dra. Padilla is a remarkable ophthalmologist and the Founder of the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines.

Here are her tips on how to get through med school:

  1. Make sure that you really want it.

Sometimes, entering the field of medicine is a result of family pressure or maybe a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision. But, for Dra. Padilla, taking up this course requires more than just an expensive tuition fee. It comes with your great love for serving the people.

Dra. Padilla says, “Okay, before you enter medicine, you have to make sure you really want it because it’s not for the glamour. Talk to first year medical students so you would know what it’s like. That’s always what I tell to my students eh, don’t become a doctor because you want to make money. You become, you aspire to be a good doctor, to be a very good doctor, to be competent, to be caring, to be compassionate, to be ethical, professional, [and] that’s what you aspire for. The money will come, okay? Because once they know that you’re that good, they will refer people to you. You have what you need. But if you want to enter medicine because you want to get wealthy, then you will end up, even your peers will not respect you. The money will come and you will have what you need. But first, be a good physician.”

  1. Always keep focused.

In a competitive field within a world that is full of expectations and judgment, always keep your eyes on the goal.

“The more potential it has to do good, the more obstacles you will encounter; the more obstacles you can expect to encounter and don’t let it get you down because it’s a perennial battle. It’s a perennial battle of good and evil, and if the work you’re doing can do a lot of good, you will always have obstacles, opposition to your work. Keep focused where you wanna go, keep praying, keep listening to the prayers and being attentive to the answers because the answers may not be exactly what you expect but they will be answered. Then, you will watch all these people opposing you fall by the wayside. They’ll just fall. They’ll just eventually end up in the wayside as you go forward in what you want to do. So that’s my advice to whoever feels so strongly and passionately about something”, Dra. Padilla advises.

  1. Passion cannot be your only hope.

You will become a doctor someday but not only because of wanting it so bad, but also because of reaaaally working hard for it.

“You follow the passion. Follow the passion. But, it cannot be all passion. Hindi tama yung passion lang (It is not right to be all just passion). You have to have a plan, you have to study, and you have to expect adversity. But know how to handle adversity”, Dra. Padilla states.

  1. Remember to have a good belly when attending to your patients.

You have bad days sometimes and it is absolutely okay to take a leave.

Dra. Padilla suggests, “When you treat patients, if you are not feeling good deep inside, you cannot treat your patients. So, ang tawag ng Apache diyan (what the Apaches call it) is good belly. Kung yung laman mo, loob mo, galit ka, marami kang problema (If your insides are not well, you’re mad and have a lot of problems), you have a very bad day, huwag ka munang titingin ng pasyente kasi nalilipat sa pasyente ‘yun (do not allow yourself to see patients because that energy is transferred). Your bad vibes, your bad feelings is transferred to your patients and we’re human. There are days where we have bad days. So you have to sort of get out, to get all the anger out, meditate before you see patients because if you don’t have good belly, if your inside doesn’t feel good, it’s hard to make others feel good. It’s true for a doctor cause we have to always remember we are healers. We cannot heal if we cannot first heal ourselves in that particular time, moment, and whatever else. So, that’s another thing about being a doctor that is so powerful.”

  1. You are more than just a doctor.

Just so you know, you are not simply a doctor with an M.D. title at the end of your name.

Dra. Padilla with colleagues in her younger years.
Dra. Padilla with colleagues in her younger years.

Dra. Padilla shares, “All of us, especially when you’re a doctor, if you’re a physician, you’re in a very very special place to heal a nation. Not just because of the physical ailment, but also spiritually, psychologically. It’s that when patients go to me, it’s not just because you are sick physically, many of them talaga (really) need healing in many other ways. And alam ng maraming politiko na ang mga doktor sa ay (a lot of politicians know that doctors are) very powerful to convince people who to vote for because they trust the doctor. So even if you just stay in your clinic, you have to be aware of what’s happening. You cannot be hiding. Problema kasi, maraming doktor, wala silang ginagawa kundi (The problem is that the only thing that many doctors do is) of course treating their patients which is our main job. But be aware of what’s happening because your patients will ask you. Be aware, be responsible for what you advise them because they will also listen to you. And you can heal a nation, one patient at a time, just by being a good physician. Not just by the way you treat their body ailments, but the way you advise them in many other things kasi (because) that’s what a doctor is. You teach, you advise, and you heal in many levels. That’s the real doctor. The good belly doctor.

  1. Most importantly, you are an instrument of God.

JUST. CLAIM. IT. And owe it all to Him.

With strong faith and determination, Dra. Padilla explains, “And then, never lose track of the fact that you’re just an instrument of God, never become so mayabang (proud), so arrogant to think that you work separately from God. One of my favorite pictures or paintings was one painting in Makati Medical Center Operating Room, because they call the operating room the Operating Theater. The traditional term, we always called it the operating theater. So, Operating Theater 1, 2… because in the past, it was really a theater. And at times, it is a theater [because] when the surgeons are operating, people are watching – especially the students. So, in Makati Med, there was a portrait of a surgeon operating and behind him was Jesus holding his hands. And it said ‘in this theater, there are no rehearsals’, diba (right)? That’s a great – that’s a very good reminder. That’s why I want to quote here the surgeons’ prayer, it’s very important.

This prayer embodies what you should think, [and] how you should be as a surgeon. So it says ‘Give skill to my hand, clear vision to my mind, kindness and sympathy to my heart. Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift at least a part of the burden of my suffering fellow men, and a clear realization of the rare privilege that is mine. Take from my heart all guile and worldliness, so with the simple faith of a child, I may rely on thee. Amen.’

That’s all that encompasses what a doctor should be. You pray for skill, wisdom, diba (right)? And then realization of the privilege that is yours, but remove all guile and worldliness from your heart, yung kayabangan mo, para (your conceitedness, so that) with the simple faith of a child I may rely on thee. So iyon ang prayer ko (that’s my prayer) before every surgery. It’s nice to know that your surgeons pray. I know some surgeons, they hold prayer as a group before a procedure. But at least ako (me), on my own I do. And that’s why that is also a good reminder for doctors, especially surgeons. You’re going to enter a theater where there are no rehearsals. As soon as you’re doing your surgery, that’s it. And do things well from the start. Do things well from the start so you wouldn’t have to go back and fix your mistakes.

Need more inspiration? Know more about Dra. Padilla here.