I have JUST found a sliver of extra memories from my job at the hospital.

Only just yesterday night, or rather, at 1am this very morning, I was telling you that being human has already started to erode away at the memory of my priceless experiences working at a hospital. And in that same blogpost, I had said the one thing I wanted most was probably to remember what I’d heard.

Until now, I probably only remember what I’d seen. The problem with remembering what you see is that eventually, you end up only being able to picture the layout of the emergency unit, but you can’t remember many specific scenes at all. All you remember is how the counter looked like, how the lift smelled like, how cold it was in the wards etc. Because when you’re in the same small space for long hours and for two months straight, all the scenes merge together to form a blurred image. Unless you had moved around much more, then you may be able to recall more specific scenes. In fact, I have read about this somewhere before, and that is how the human brain works. This is called “spatial recognition“.

(Spatial recognition is not to be confused with “spatial recollection“, which is another important concept I will be sharing with you in the not-so-near future. But, if you’re curious, I’ll include their meanings down below. I have even simplified it for your understanding!)

Actually? I’m here to tell you that I’d found some recorded moments, knowing that I would want to remember.

Just now, I sat on my bed and listened to the recordings on my phone. There was a lot of background noise in each one, but that’s what you get with low quality phone recorders. There was one recording of my high school classmates collective laughter. There were two of my retail colleagues promoting our travel products to our friendly customers.

And there were about six at the hospital, of my colleagues chatting and laughing. In one, I heard a baby crying in the background. It was probably receiving an injection or an IV insertion…. haha. Doctors spoke on the phone and nurses bustled around the registration counter. I could only make out their voices and no words at all, but truly that itself is all I am looking for.

Six short recordings is hardly anything compared to the two full months I’d experienced. Yet it is certainly still something. I’m happy to have found these memories.

Spatial recognition: Here, space (spatial) literally means empty space. Remembering and recognizing things by being able to picture precisely where those events took place. That’s how the human brain works.

Spatial recollection: Here, space (spatial) refers to time. Remembering things by spaced out re-reading of material, to slowly commit something to memory. If you want to remember something, you usually read it once tomorrow, once in a couple of days, then once next week, then next month. That’s how the human memory works.

For My Future: The Race Begins Today.

18 June 2020, Thursday

You know, when I was working in a little mall kiosk after SPM, things were fast-paced, but still manageable. During my 1 hour breaks off work, I would roam the entire mall on my own, or sit down for the whole hour and record down significant events in my diary. Sometimes I really wanted a coffee bun or a Starbucks cappucino, but I would sacrifice that wish for my journaling. I knew that the experiences that came with my first job, of dealing with my colleagues and my customers, would be something I would want to remember.

In February, when I got another job, this time at a small hospital, things changed drastically. There was no time for breaks, no time to breathe; it was certainly no time and NO PLACE to write in your diary at the emergency unit in a hospital. I tried typing in point form on my phone when I first started, but soon gave up when I had to wear gloves often due to the COVID situation. Together with that reason, and the fact that there was just so many patients coming in per shift, I was soon deluded that this was something I would remember forever.

As I familiarized myself with handling my job as a patient care assistant, the antics of my friendly colleagues of every skin colour, and the patients and their myriad of symptoms presented, on top of all the ice and fire emotional roller coasters I had ridden throughout my time there…. I did not think I would forget this. There was no way, no way at all, I could forget such an enriching experience.

Yet after I stopped working, my memories of my former workplace started to fade; and I acknowledged that was part of being human. I cannot remember everything like a computer. I was very consciously aware of all the memories slipping away, leaving only the most surface of memories: just the registration counter, the triage bay, the treatment room. Deep down I know just how many times I have set foot in the nooks and crannies of that tiny area – the emergency unit, yet I have already forgotten the things that happened there. Most of all, I have forgotten the things I’ve heard, which is the one I most want to remember.

I only hope that some of these are already ingrained in my system. Two months is not a lot, not a lot at all, to have stuck fast within me. But I do believe I will carry some of what I’ve learnt with me.

University has just started the beginning of this month (June), and I am already nearing the end of week 3.

First Sem Assignments!! Oh No…. We’re barely into Week 3.

It’s only Week 3 of the first semester. I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg. The very tip.

I wrote all the deadlines (except the one in blue) two weeks before the actual deadline, like a false trick to myself. To get me going early, so that I don’t rush and panic at the very last minute.

I also taped and stapled three coins, 2 pieces of scrap pink paper, and the ultimate one: a solar powered keychain with my name on it, to weigh the two pieces of paper down. Can’t even remember where I got it from already. The standing fan behind me blows too strong.

So as you can see, university life is going to be another hospital job. Rushed. Crammed. No time to breathe. Thus my blogposts, my writeups, will have to be of questionable depth in the next month, next year, or years to come.

Again, I will be deluded, tricked into thinking this is something I cannot forget. I wouldn’t forget a life I would live for the next six years (if I manage to get into MBBS (medical degree)), would I? But truly, all memories fade with time.

Yet, there won’t be time to document every university experience. Thus, I still must focus more on being in the moment.

Now, my first stop would be getting into medicine. I am going to brace myself, and rush toward my first finish line!

Second week of lectures, done!

HEY! Where did all the time go? Is the second week of university done and gone already?

Week 1 mostly consisted of ice breaking and briefing sessions. (Click here to read about my very first week at university!) I am now done with week 2 of foundation in science, and this week has been a reasonably manageable one, and the pace has not picked up so much that I cannot catch up – not just yet.

This week, we have just been given some assignments to do, and I am learning to adapt to this different part of uni life that is having to complete tutorial questions and practical lab simulations before attending tutorial and practical classes respectively. In high school, we seldom had to complete anything before entering the classroom – homework was always given to us to do after the class.

This week may have felt a bit short because Monday was a public holiday for Malaysia, so there were only 4 days of lectures. Our lecturers did not hesitate to set replacement classes throughout the week and the next, to make up for lost time.

Due to a replacement class for math on Thursday morning and a combined scientific report writing and APA citation & referencing workshop on Friday, the last two weekdays of Week 2 were FULLY BOOKED. That is effectively 6 hours of (four) lectures on Thursday, with breaks in between, and more than 5 hours of lectures on Friday, with no break in between – I was literally seated in front of my computer, attending live sessions from 8 – 1.40pm back-to-back. Non-stop.

“Welcome to medicine,” said my father, when he saw me hurrying upstairs after lunch, to continue with the third lecture on Thursday. “That’s probably how studying for your medical degree will be like.”

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Medicine must be way busier than the second week of our foundation year.” I huffed and puffed as I bounded up the last of the steps, not allowing myself to be deterred by my busy schedule – but only because I knew studying medicine must be a ton lot more hectic than this, and if I could not survive this now, then there was no need to talk about going up to the degree level. So this little bit of busyness has to be beneath me. I do not mean that in an arrogant way, but simply because with the start of my path in medicine, I know I must shift my very definition of “busy”.

Still, I am thoroughly enjoying the new experiences of online classes AND the different way of studying required at university, despite being stuck at home 24/7.

It’s Saturday and I am using the weekend to do some self-studying of Cell Biology. Time to throw myself into the third week!

Just got my university online lecture notes!

Just checked our university’s e-learning website and some of the notes (all of them are in powerpoint presentation form) are ALREADY UP! I am not sure whether these are our main notes, or just for casual reading, but it is something, for sure.

Update on 28th of January 2021: Those were not our main notes, they were old notes just for our reference.

I have printed some out to start studying already. MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) is one of the most rigorous courses, and to achieve AND maintain a CGPA of 3.5 in foundation leading to the degree course, the minimum requirement to enter our institution’s MBBS degree course, I absolutely have to get going!

I would like to repeat again that although this blog is meant for everyone, its main purpose is to be a guide, or simply a companion, for my peer and future-generation friends who are looking to pursue medicine as a career. Through this blog, I also hope to connect with you and would love to be friends. You can find me at Instagram (@racheltan_hx).

As of now, our e-learning environment has put up lecture notes in the form of presentation slides, along with some videos for certain chapters, and quizzes to test our knowledge. It has a very simple user interface (layout and design). However, I still find exploring the student portal, e-learning platform etc interesting.

I must remind you that I have only just attended my e-orientation, and the commencement date for the foundation programs is later in June; however fret not! I have signed up for some online talks, hosted by my university as a welcoming for new university students. Still, there has been no instructions to read the notes in the student portal, and there have been no lectures at all yet.

I am currently still unsure how we will be informed when there will be a online lecture; but I will cross the bridge when I come to it 😉

For now, I shall check some of the notes out. There is already a lot of content on the e-learning platform. Cell Biology, here I come!

~Rachel Tan, Blog author, 16 May 2020.

Med School Intake Delayed!

I have just received an email from my new university. The commencement date for my chosen program, foundation in biological science has been delayed to June!

Naturally, I am not very happy about that, because it will only mean being stuck at home pre-studying for med school! 😛 My contract with the hospital has ended and I am slightly disappointed that I cannot continue. After two months of work experience, I have chosen to put family safety over personal growth, despite the enriching experience, the things I had yet to learn even within my own job scope of a patient care assistant (PCA), and all the people I could have gotten to know more. For now while I am still young, I have conceded to both of my parents, who have made it clear that due to the current coronavirus situation, an extension of contract with the hospital was not an option.

( Do not fear, though: yours truly here may be bored, but I will make sure my readers will never be. I will still share about my experiences working at the hospital, at my previous retail job, and other interesting things!)

With the extended MCO (Movement Control Order) due to the Covid 19 virus, though, I did anticipate a postponed intake date. In between studying two STPM books: one on math and one on biology, I have taken the initiative to seek out certain faculty members through various modes of contact, settling some pre-intake paperwork. My university also has an online portal, which I took the time to do a little bit of exploring.

I am wondering now, with the new coronavirus still on the loose, if our lectures will end up going online on our first day. Online lecturers does feel less plausible for a first day, but the reason why I think this is because I am aiming for foundation in science leading to MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree), and most universities, including mine, have only one intake a year for med school. The foundation intake cannot be pushed too far back, because it fits nicely with the first year of our medical degree, and that fits like a jigsaw puzzle with the next year, and the year after that. A delay in the intake of foundation will affect how smoothly we can transition into med school. Maybe then we will go online.

Mercy, J&J Partner To Evaluate Medical Devices l Pharma Intelligence

How strange will it be, to interact with your coursemates online first, for perhaps a few weeks, before meeting them in the real life!

I am not entirely sure how I feel about that! 😛 You see, it really is not the same as having started college, and being forced suddenly to stay home and attend Zoom classes. We have not even started our first day or seen our classrooms / lecture halls, mind you. For one it can be an amusing and lighthearted experience, starting university in a unique way. For another, it can also be frustrating that you do not get to meet face-to-face with interesting people on your very first day. But whatever happens, I will always choose to look on the bright side.

My younger brother’s teachers, teachers from the secondary school I graduated from, also use the zoom app for online classes. I find it interesting watching the lessons unfold soundlessly on the computer screen, as my brother listens to his teacher on his headphones. Once in a while you will get a glimpse of the teacher’s dog wagging its tail, or hear a whisper of their young son memorising chemistry terms; and then we laugh.

Every so often when we laugh about high-tech things, I will wonder about how anything today might become obsolete for our next generations, and I wonder what the future will look like.

I do not know what the future will be like. How things will turn out for Malaysia as we battle Covid 19, what the world will be like in seventy years, how I will handle my chosen career when the time comes. But I do know one thing: I will see the opportunity in every challenge. I am unlucky to be part of this crisis, yet so fortunate to be part of this lesson.

I wonder what university will be like?