Plans derailed

Personal August 18th, 2009

You know how people used to say that man proposes while God disposes? The saying happened to me. Again. For the umpteen time.

I don’t hide the fact that I am a quitter (well, at least in SM Goh’s words – of which, a search on google will reveal what that term means) and intend to pursue medicine in Australia. I may come back one day to form part of the “growing pool of overseas trained doctors” but I do hope to be involved in the treatment and curing of patients instead of just being an administrator or another doctor’s runner. Essentially, I’d rather be where I can be most effective.

Nonetheless, the plan was for me to apply for a PR in Australia, take the IELTS and the MCAT/GAMSAT, relocate to Melbourne (because I am state-sponsored) and apply for entry into the MD Program and University of Melbourne while working in the first year. Of course, here’s where the disposal starts.

By some cheer (bad) luck, University of Melbourne changed their entry requirements and now require international students to complete their Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry modules. There was no mentioned with regards to similar modules in overseas universities, but this is probably because the MD Program is still in the planning phase and will not be admitting students until 2011.

Nonetheless, I asked them about it and I was told to dig out NUS/NTU’s modules which I think is equivalent and to email them the curriculum. Clearly, it’s going to be a long walk on a fire bed. Either that, or I have to take their pre-requisite subjects – while on a visitor’s visa.

The alternative, was an MBBS programme at University of Sydney, which is a complete derailment of my initial plans, at least location-wise.

There were some other considerations, like how I am going to finance my entire medical course. At first, I thought of applying as a PR, but I am quite sure that being a new PR, I may probably end up with some restrictions in one form or another. The “safer” choice would be to apply as an international student, which will result in more than twice the amount of school fees required. For the uninitiated, that’s almost S$250,000.

I can’t help but suddenly think of Yu-Mei Balasingamchow’s S$264,000 bond. That is really… A. LOT. OF. MONEY. And if I study really hard, I can get scholarships that will cover about one-sixth of the school fees. There’s still 5 more sixths to go, and living expenses too.

Seems like I will have to go back to my drawing board. Meanwhile, I will be taking the GAMSAT exams next year and perhaps the MCAT after that for Duke-NUS’ MD Program; and work my bum off for the next 1 year. Sometimes, I wish I have 72 hours a day.

Having said that, many people ask me why I’d want to be a doctor. As simple as the question sounds, the answer is always tough because I will receive a whole lot of alternatives that I can do if I just want to “help people”. Trust me. A lot of thought had gone into why I do not want to be a nurse, a paramedic, a social worker or a fund-raiser. All these occupations do help people in one way or another but one big difference is that while people in these noble occupations can treat people, they definitely can’t diagnose and can’t cure. Having said that, I do wish to be a volunteer paramedic in the mean time 🙂

More usual than not, discussions of what I intend to do will only go one way – the other way. It’s not because people can’t see (imagine) me being a doctor, it’s the high (pardon me, absurd) cost of the process that often led people into thinking of alternatives where I can “help people”. I had, for a moment, thought of giving up everything and do social work. Then, I might need a degree for that or risk just being an administrator. Sometimes, I just wish that I studied harder in the past.

Thankfully, my direction in life is (hopefully) still clear. I want to be able to treat and cure people one day and take on overseas medical missions at least on a yearly basis. Prior to that, it’s going to be a long and arduous road, but I still hope to reach there eventually.

As for school fees… I can only try to plan while preparing for my entrance exams.

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