Driving with BBDC (I)

After so many months of contemplating, I have finally decided to move my lazy ass up to Bukit Batok Driving Centre and start preparing myself for the driving license.

I tried looking for more information online, from websites to blog, to help me understand and make better decisions (and get more understanding about the process), but couldn’t find anything useful except for a few blogs.

As such, I would be sharing my experiences throughout this process and hope it really helps you understand better!

Disclaimer: This information provided here (and the subsequent posts) are not of 100% accuracy. If you want more accurate information, you can always call the driving schools for more details.

One fine day, you decided to sign up for classes for a driving license and you have absolutely no idea what to do…

So, now what?

Firstly, you can look for schools which you can go to (Regardless of you taking private or public lessons because whatever administrative stuffs needed will and can only be settled by public schools!) and drop by their places and register.

Among all the schools, I’ve picked BBDC because CDC (the one in ubi) is closing down soon (and will be relocated to Kovan) and the other one in Woodlands is too far for me. I would rather go to BBDC. Based on the stats their staff showed me, majority (80-95%) of students passed the theory and practical test within one try. Time, being one important factor, made me decided to opt for school instead.

Getting there

Anyway, to go to BBDC, head over to Bukit Gombak MRT station, walk towards the left (when you tap out) and you’ll see a long queue (or maybe not, but there’s a small A4 size sign) for the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus comes every 20 minutes and it starts at 0650 each day. If you happened to miss the shuttle bus, I would suggest taking public transport (187,188, 945, 985) there.

Once you’re there

Go over to the informational counter, tell them you want to register for a driving license and they’ll give you a queue number. I would suggest going during the weekdays before lunch (i.e. 12pm) or after dinner (prob 7-8pm?) because there would be lesser waiting time.

Stage 1: Consultation phase

Once your number flashes on the screen, you’ll proceed to the first counter. This is the counter where the staff will talk to you about their school and how their school is actually better and cheaper. They also cover important aspects which I think it would be good to find out from them.

This is also the time where you need to decide between manual (takes an average about 25 practical lessons before sitting for practical) or automatic (About 20 lessons).

Oh yah, the license I’m taking is class 3A (meaning a license that allows me to drive automatic motorcars [or cars]). Most of the information I share thereafter refers to license 3/3A only. So if you’re interested in other licenses, you can pop by the counter and ask.

*One more difference between manual and auto is that there will be an extra auto lesson for those taking manual*

At the same time, here’s some important information which I should share with you as well.

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Image courtesy from BBDC

Above is the training structure of the course for license 3/3A. I think for different licenses, there will be different structures (and they might change over time), so keep a look out on their website!

Throughout the entire course, you can choose to take private theory and practical or both by the school or you can mix (i.e. private theory, school practical and vice versa). However, fees are applicable (check with school!)

If you choose to take theory in school…

You would need to attend BTL (basic training lesson) 1.01 and 1.02 (~$17 each module) and FTL (final training lesson) 2.01 and 2.02 before you can apply for the FTT (final theory test).

On top of that, in order to sit for the BTT (basic theory test), which will allow you to apply for PDL (provisional driving license – license that allows you to practice driving), you would need to pass (90% grade) the school’s very own evaluation (~$5 per paper).

Essentially,

BTT practice (optional) > BTT evaluation (compulsory for school students) >BTT (actual)

BTT (Actual) + BTL (1.01 and 1.02) + FTL (2.01 and 2.02) + FTT practice (optional)> FTT evaluation (for school students) > FTT (actual)

Once you’re done with FTT + practical driving evaluation by the school = Traffic police practical test.

Passing the practical test = Driving license! (woohoo! Meh, looks like I’m still far from it)

If you’re worried about passing the evaluation test, fret not, you can book practice sessions and attend them (~$3 each session, 4 sets of paper for practice).

  • Each paper comes with 70 questions (Except for one set with 50+)
  • Each paper can be done up to 3 times (I think)
  • Personally, I booked 2 sessions (1 session do 2 sets and redid once per set to familiarize)
    • Prior that, I spent1-hourr scanning through the BTT book (free from the school if you decided to take theory under them) before I went ahead with the sessions.
  • And you can take them on the day you register and open account!
  • I cramped 2 sessions (Each about 45 mins, with 10 min break in between session) of practice together before squeezing the evaluation immediately after!
  • Most questions were repeated so it was easy to get 50/50

Once you clear BTT, you can apply for PDL.

If you decided to take private BTT…

Then you would need to find your own study materials and practice. One of my friends signed up under private and had to borrow materials from my other friends to study. Also, she would not need to take the other lessons for BTT and FTT.

All she have to do, is to self-study, apply for BTT and FTT, pass them and apply for the license.

Essentially,

BTT booking > Self-study at home >BTT (actual)

Once you clear BTT, you can apply for PDL.

I think this is a lot cheaper (and saves time from the other lessons), but because of some miscommunication, I booked the school instead. Oh well.

Stage 2: Registration phase

Over at this stage, the staff will bring you to a computer for you to input your information and tadahhh! You’re done, you have an account set up. Now, for stage 3.

Stage 3: Other administrative work

Once your number has been called, this is where you’ll sign the forms for insurance (for yourself in case you kena accident or something) and also understanding some terms and conditions.

*Good thing about learning driving from school is that not only you are insured, but if you accidentally langa (hit) the car, you won’t have to pay for it!

Other than that, you also make a payment of $200 with $96++ going to opening an account and the other $100++ for you to book classes and practical lessons.

Stage 4: Theory lessons

When the administrative work has been settled, it’s time to book your theory slots! You can either use computer they provide at their own centers (or go back home and log in from BBDC website) and start booking your time slots.

Since I was free today, I decided to cramp 2 practice session and clear my evaluation! Now it’s time to sit for my BTT and then apply for PDL

Nonetheless, if you’re interested, you can always drop by this page for more information about driving! I will be adding new posts about this process and hope it can help more people.

That’s all for part I! Stay tune for part II!

Emergency simulation

“16-year-old Johnny had a sudden onset of dyspnea when we arrived at his school. Johnny was playing soccer with his friends when his shortness of breath occurred. Temperature 36.7, RR: 25, HR: 89, O2 sat: 95%. ” The paramedic told me.

As I did my hand hygiene, many thoughts were racing through my mind. “Oh my god, this is going to be an interesting experience”, “Maybe the patient had an asthma attack”, “I am all set and ready to help this patient out”. Without further ado, off I went and saw Johnny lying on the bed, looking frantic and stressed out.

“Hello, my name is Lucius and I am a student nurse who will be helping you out today.”

I did what I was supposed to do – patient identifiers and gotten the relevant information from him – before I proceeded to call the emergency physician for advice.

“Administer salbutamol and Atrovent, 1:2:1 via nebulizer.” was what the physician told me.

I hurriedly moved to the preparation room to prepare the medications needed.

Being a bubbly and enthusiastic person, I was so excited that I am attending to a patient in an emergency setting, and I am going to help him out! With that, I started to uncap the medications, inserted the needle into the bottles and drawing out the relevant amount.

Then, in the midst of my excitement, I screwed up my technique of drawing fluids out from the bottle – air bubbles started pouring into my syringe! Air bubbles are a hindrance because they are there to prevent you from getting an accurate dosage of the medication. Thinking back now, I could have drawn in more air and then measure the volume inside the syringe, before flicking them out. That is a hundred times better than for me trying to get rid of the excess smaller air bubbles into the bottle of medicine – increasing the risk of contamination, creating a huge mess and also bending the needle from my poor technique.

My energy levels were synonymous with my anxiety and excitement. This is one downside of my personality I dislike. There are so many things that can go wrong when your body is unable to differentiate between anxiety and excitement and all you can feel is an intense urge to perform the procedure.

When everything was done, I moved to the patient’s bedside and set on the mask. Since the medication was still in the syringe and not in the nebulizer, I decided to detach the nebulizer from the mask and inject the medication in. Using the one hand technique, I tried to uncap the needle.

I felt a sharp poke into my little pinkie. 

Turns out, the mess I have created (the wet needle) impaired my ability to properly uncap the needle. When I exerted too much force, my hand reflexed back into the spot where the sharp end of the needle was. It started bleeding and I told my colleagues who were there. One of them even saw me stabbing myself with the needle.

I went to wash my hand, then continued back with the procedure.

Thankfully, these were just simulations in the school where we are able to practice in a safer environment. An environment which we can make mistakes and upon that, reflect and not repeat it ever again.

One important thing I learned was to maintain composure. I should never have let my excitement taken over control of my actions. Otherwise, I would hastily perform the procedure without doing it slowly, and mastering the right steps.

Maybe this was why I can never improve, I am too focused to finish up things quickly.

Also, by being composed, I will not seem like I’m someone who is frantic. I am sure nobody wants to see their future nurses or doctors acting so panicky, not knowing what to do, or simply just being all over the place. This is something that I really can learn from, and I hope to carry this lesson into my future practices.

I guess the next time when such an opportunity arises to practice and improve my skills, I will tell myself to be confident and do things slowly.  After all, it’s better to do it slow than to do it wrong and create an extra mess for others to attend to.

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Removing the dust that settled a month ago

Hello everybody! It has been almost what, a month since I’ve updated this blog. This month definitely felt a lot longer, and I’m sure the dust that accumulates in this blog is almost a year’s worth. Regardless, this one month has been a hell of a ride for me in my journey as a student and an applicant for my Medicine studies!

Previously, I was shortlisted for Southampton’s Medicine and Birmingham’s Medicine and I was jumping around in joy! Finally, 2 opportunities for me to showcase my passions and qualities that I have to become a doctor!

However, those firmed dates that fell on my Anatomy and Physiology II Common Assessment worth 40% of my grades (Birmingham’s interview) and one week worth of school (Southampton’s interview) meant that I would need to make decisions. To make the right choice and find a balance between skipping school (without affecting my grades) and grabbing onto those opportunities.

With my end goal of Medicine in mind, I applied for leave from the school and seek approval. Approval was tough to get because I had to go through a few rounds of consultation with my module coordinators as well as the school’s curriculum professor for discussion. Thankfully, the leave was approved. But, the 40% worth of grades for my Anatomy’s exam would be awarded a nice fat zero.

Nonetheless, I went for Birmingham’s interview.

Prior that, I had bought air tickets over to the UK (for Southampton) and paid for my accommodation as well. It wasn’t until a few days later that Queen Belfast sent me a shortlisting email. Since the interview for Queen’s is located in Singapore, and that I will not be missing important lessons (which are tied to several consequences), I decided to cancel my flight to the UK. I know, silly me, maybe that was not a good decision, or maybe it was. Whoever that took over my slot for Southampton, I sincerely hope you would get it! 

Belfast’s interview came first and it was an MMI format. First station definitely gave me the confident boost I needed. However, when I was at the 2nd station, I felt completely trashed. By the time I was at my third (and last station), I felt terrible. As I was looking at the theme of station’s 3 question, I was elated! I knew I could slay the last station and make up for the loss I faced in station 2. Guess what?

Station 3 completely slew me. I ended up stumbling my words and thought process, which cost me my “average” grading to a “below average” for one of the marking component. Sigh. This interview definitely made me reconsider a lot of factors and boy was I glad that I went through Belfast interview. Without this, I would not have developed the resolution to further train and prepare myself for Birmingham’s interview.

2 weeks later, on my time slot for my Birmingham’s interview, I was hoping that standardized questions such as “Why do you want to study medicine” and all did not become the main heading for the interview. When I was escorted into the preparation room, two sheets of case study greeted me.

I WAS SO DAMN THANKFUL THAT THEY WERE CASE STUDIES, AND THEY DEFINITELY HELPED ME TO PREPARE MY ANSWERS A LOT MORE, AND BETTER.

By the end of the interview, excitement was filling in quickly than quicksand swallowing a struggling animal. I hopped my way back to my rented apartment, cheering myself and letting that excitement and sense of fulfillment pour out.

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Subconsciously, I knew I did well.

Less than a month later…

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OH MY GOD! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!

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I DID IT! Finally, my first offer to study Medicine!

Currently, I am still waiting for the school to send in their official offer via snail mail as well as UCAS. Hopefully, I should be hearing back from them soon!

Good news aside, this is also the crucial period for NUS Medicine. Their interviews are held on the 30, 31st March and the first week of April. However, even up to today, I have not heard back from the school.

Despite my friends trying to help me, or my writing in to the Prime Minister’s Office, I heard nothing. I really do hope I can hear back from the school soon! 3 years of rejection definitely has not made things any easier.

Otherwise, I might spend one whole day crying for the loss of this wonderful opportunity to study in NUS Medicine. Nonetheless, Birmingham is one school that I really really want to go! Still, so long as the official letter does not reach me, there is a chance that my application might not turn out to be as expected.

Still keeping my hopes up! Otherwise, I am going to spam the school with my questions should my acceptance for Birmingham doesn’t reach me. *cross fingers*

Throughout this one month, what I have really learned when it comes to Medicine interview is that:

  • Always prepare yourself for the interviews (Be it standardized questions or thinking questions).
  • Reaching early and giving yourself 5 minutes to calm down and be confident.
  • Talk to the other candidates or staff if possible, it helps to relax you down and be more confident when you are tackling the questions posed.
  • Always THINK through what you wanted to say. I remembered blurting out “why is this question being asked” instead of “can I ask what is the rationale being this question”. I guess I got kind of marked down for that.
  • Subconsciously, our minds know how we fare. Generally, the feeling you experience post-interview tells you about your performance. (I am not sure how true is this, but for me, I guess that’s true).

These are pretty cliche tips, but are very useful! For those who have been through interviews and have more tips to share, feel free to comment them here!

Moving away from my interviews and medicine status, school has been hectic for me since I came back. Examinations take place week after week (and I have one more skill assessment to go this coming Friday) and every day is like a study day.

Regardless, I felt that I had done well for my Pathophysiology and Pharmacology module and I did (Grade: A)! But today’s skill assessment was horrendous.

I was supposed to interview and conduct a physical assessment on my standardized patient with burning abdominal pain. For those who have the prior knowledge, the first thing you would be more likely to suspect is gastric related (because burning sensation tends to link with gastric juice problems). Instead, such an important clue got thrown to the depths of the Forgotten abyss in my mind and I started performing examinations related to intestinal obstruction or infection of the GI system. Oh god. Why.

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Worse still, I was made known that the patient had not been eating and that could be an obvious cause of his gastric pain. A link so obvious that I was oblivious to. 

Also, I have been so task oriented that I left out the feelings of my patient. Oh well.

I guess this is a good learning opportunity that I should keep in mind. Always engage with the patients and use my brain properly (and not missed out on any important clues).

With one more skill assessment to go this Friday, I hope whatever I have learned from today will be brought into great use.

With that, I shall end my update here and start indulging myself in the new books that I’ve bought on impulse from the cheap book sales! Otherwise, the number of new books would pile up into a Mountain taller than Everest (just kidding).

Hopefully, I would be able to hear good news from myself on Friday, as well as from NUS (soon) and receive my official letter from Birmingham too!

 

My first Medical Interview

School work has been piling up ever since the day for my NUS transfer application opens. More time has been spent preparing for the interviews compared to my studies. I think I must be lacking behind quite a bit in my studies. Hopefully, I would be able to catch up amidst all these happenings.

Least to mention, the amount of time I had is significantly lower so I would not be able to write as often as before. However, today marks a special day for my progress into my medicine journey – my first interview.

As I have signed the confidentiality agreement, I am not supposed to share the details of the interviews that Queen’s Belfast had set. However, I will be sharing my own experience.

This was one interview that I would not have expected.

There were 3 stations, and we were given 5 minutes per station to talk about how a particular topic.

Station 1: This was my first station and I was glad to say, I enjoyed it a lot. This was definitely one station you can prepare for and I believed I did my best in this station. Thankfully, the interviewer was nice as well.

Confidence score: 8/10

Station 2: I thought this was quite a killer because I seemed to be beating around the bush instead of directly addressing the question. Felt that I could have done better, but this was one area that I never expect to be able to prepare for. Maybe a wider reading would cover such topics. Because I finished this station with a minute to spare, the interviewer asked if I got any question. Instead of asking how I could improve my reasoning, my brain decided to blare out a question which I think was quite ridiculous (stupid, and maybe even rude). I think that question shot down the already bad impression. Oh well, that goes my points.

Confidence score: 4/10

Station 3: When I first saw the topic, I was excited because I knew I would be able to slay this interview. That is until the first question came out from the interviewer’s mouth. Got stumped for awhile, but managed to pick myself up. Halfway through, I realized that my lack of pointers to support my stance caused a major downfall. Honestly, I did not get to finish the station because the time was up. How I thought I could improve on this was to fall back on knowing what the interviewers are looking out for. Truthfully, I could have made my answer a lot more outstanding following that self-reflection moment.

Confidence score: 2/10

The 4th station was a rest station, where we get to consolidate our thoughts. That was when I start to think about how better I could improve.

However, when the bell rang to signify the end of the interviews, the other two students in the interview rooms did not come out. That caught me off-guard because I thought the students would be chased out of the rooms. Long story short, turns out, that was an informal dialogue session and the interviewer from the 2nd station was not keen to talk to me, so I had another interviewer instead.

I guess my confidence for getting a slot in Queen’s Belfast is a low 1.

Apart from my damaged confidence and disappointment, I think this was truly one of the experiences that would really enhance my interviews for my next school (And hopefully in NUS).

2 more months to go before the school gives a reply, but I am not hopeful.

Now, it is time to focus on my school work as well as my Birmingham’s interview.

Sometimes I wonder if I make the right choice going for Queen’s interview instead of Southampton’s. Maybe things would be better.

*Sigh*

Life changing 4 months.

Hello, everybody!

2 weeks has passed by quickly since the start of the year and things have started spiraling into a direction that might possibly land me into my dreamland. Or a reality where my dreams are starting to materialize.

First and foremost, I have received two shortlisting from the Univesity of Southampton and the University of Birmingham.

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Wait a minute, wasn’t I rejected by the University of Birmingham shortly after my UCAS application?

Beats me.

Ironically, they were the ones who sent me the shortlisting interview first.

Nonetheless, I was so excited that I am given this opportunity to go through the interviews and show the admissions team on my compatibility with Medicine!

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Both interviews are not done locally, so I have to buy tickets to fly to the U.K. as well as K.L. for the interviews. But that is not the problem. The main problem I am facing now is conflicts between my schooling schedule.

Going for interviews in the U.K. would consume at least a week of my schooling time thanks to the difference in time zone. Thankfully, based on my timetable, my lessons take place on 3 days instead of the usual 4. As such, I would not miss out on too many classes and can still catch up. My appeal to seek approval for my leave by the various module coordinators have been great so far. Except for one. I needed to get the school’s approval. Otherwise, a small percentage of my final grades would be taken away instead (sigh).

The biggest problem for me is the interview at K.L. for the University of Birmingham. The date coincides with my common assessment for my Anatomy and Physiology module. The common assessment is worth 40% of my grade. After a mini-consultation with my tutor, I have two outcomes. Either risk that 40% being 0 marks, or have my final 60% to replace the 100% grade for my module (that is if the school approves of my leave). Risking 40% is an extremely stupid thing to do considering that I can get A+ (i.e. above 80% in total) and that 40% of my grades is thrown into the sea because of this.

However, as much as I really want to sustain my GPA above 4.9 (i.e. to get GPA 5.0 this semester 2), I do not want to miss any opportunity of me being able to get into Medicine.

I do hope that I would be able to join the discussion with the Dean to reach an outcome.

I’ll update on the progression of this, but chances are, I’ll go for the 2 interviews.

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And guess what?

NUS transfer application is going to open soon and I cannot wait to submit my application! Hopefully, all is well and I do get shortlisted!

Regardless, generally speaking, I am still quite worried about my preparations for the interview. Hopefully the practices I am going to do a few days prior the interviews would be sufficient to bestow me the confidence I need.

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Moving on, school has been really fun for me! Especially knowing that the 4 modules I’m currently taking are all interconnected and will serve me well in building my foundations for Medicine.

Anatomy and Physiology II covers the normal functioning of the body on systems we had not covered in semester 1. We are covering the reproductive systems and will move on to the musculoskeletal system, nervous system as well as the special senses.

Pathophysiology and Pharmacology I builds on our knowledge from A&P I, where we are moving towards heart disorders and drugs used for treatment. This is so exciting because it correlates with the next two modules.

Medical/Surgical Nursing I provides more insights to chronic conditions and how to care for these patients. Conditions range from hypertension to bronchiectasis to allergies, and procedures such as oropharyngeal suctioning.

Lastly, Comprehensive Health Assessment equips us with the knowledge to conduct a basic health assessment of the body from head to toe and links up diseased conditions we will see in P&P I and Med/Surg I.

Sounds exciting right? I know!

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School has started and the pace of school is slowly accelerating. Together with those interviews that I am shortlisted for, I am not sure how things will turn out.

Friends have been supportive of me, and I am very lucky to have them to give me feedback and being so encouraging despite them not wanting me to leave the course.

I have no idea what will happen, but the huge part of this year and the subsequent years to come will be determined by the things that happen from now until May, where the NUS shortlisting results will be released.

I do hope everything goes well.

I wish for them to be good and for you readers as well.

2017 – A year of the unknown

I have been doing up the resolutions for each year and this year will not be an exception. Looking back, the year of 2016 has brought many fun times and memorable learning experiences.

From my BIOC course and the Medicine entry saga, to the 3rd and final rotation that I will be doing with my S2 branch, to the ORD speech that resulted from something so stupid, to heading over for HK with my attachment friends from A*STAR, to deciding to do UKCAT, to warming up to my classmates from Nursing(who sadly, might not be my classmates anymore due to reshuffling), to the various healthcare programs I have joined in NUS, to the clinical attachments, 2016 has been a prosperous year of knowledge and friendship forged. These are definitely the times I will never forget, and the struggle I had to reach my goals of getting into Medicine.

Before I input the next 17 resolutions for 2017, I will go through the past year’s goals and see how much have I achieved.

Here are my 16 resolutions for 2016.

  1. Getting shortlisted for interviews in both local universities (This didn’t happen at all. You can read the Medicine saga from the link in the 2016 review paragraph.)
  2. Accepted Medicine for the year of 2016 (If I cannot get shortlisted, I cannot get accepted)
  3. Managing to find a way through the interviews as well as army commitments (I did, surprisingly, but sacrificing one of the trips I have been dying to go to with the same group of friends in BIOC)
  4. Top student for BIOC (Did not happen, but I definitely topped one of the major test for BIOC. Still, it was really heartwarming to hear from friends that I’ll always be #1 in their hearts.)
  5. Be the top 20% for my cohort (I don’t really remember what top 20% of the cohort refers to. If it refers to BIOC, then I think I fall into the category. If I’m talking about nursing, then I definitely fall into that category as well)
  6. Do Bunjee jumping (IT WAS AWESOME!)
  7. Maintaining the exercise adrenaline (At least I have been exercising throughout the year, though not as consistent as I would wanted.)
  8. Start up something impactful (Probably the most memorable impactful thing I started out was my crash course class for my classmates who are struggling with anatomy and physiology.)
  9. Blog more about health related articles (I did! I remembered blogging about mental health and diabetes!)
  10. Reduce the backlogs for my read – economist (Okay, I admit I left them all on the shelves, and discarded them cause I really couldn’t find the time to read.)
  11. Be more confident (Generally speaking, I think I grew to be more confident and sociable, especially after going through communication skills module, public speaking and critical thinking module, as well as being the class representative, all of which forces me to be more outspoken. But I still need to be more confident!)
  12. Think more logically (I don’t think I satisfied this criteria, but during one of the heart to heart talks, they said I was very analytical and logical and was surprised I had an “F” in my Myer Briggs type (INFJ).)
  13. Improve my conversational skills (During attachments and the various events [like SMEC, PHS, NHS, HOP, SL], I was definitely forced to improve my skills and adapt them to situations!)
  14. Keeping and maintaining a happiness dairy (Used to wrote it down every day, until it turned out to be a chore and I don’t think I am someone who really needs to count every blessing given that I appreciate a lot of things!)
  15. Stay in touch with OCS friends, BMT mates, S2 branch personnel, Polytechnic cliques and Secondary school friends (OCS checked, BMT nope, S2 checked, Poly checked, Sec, checked)
  16. Do something I would never have expected to – something really bizarre – and blog about it. (Definitely the incident about the ORD speech and its sequel.)

Compared to 2015, there were a lot more green than red and that is a good indicator that my goals are achievable and not too far fetch. Before I end this, let me share 17 goals I hope to achieve by the end of 2017.

  1. Attend the interviews for UK schools.
  2. Getting an offer from at least one UK school.
  3. Get shortlisted for NUS Medicine.
  4. Receive an offer letter from NUS Medicine.
  5. Finish Nursing Year 1 with a CAP/GPA of no less than 4.8.
  6. Participate in Interfaculty games for NUS.
  7. Pick up Intermediate sign language course and become an instructor for basic sign language.
  8. Do something really unexpected and blog about it.
  9. Surprise 5 people in the year of 2017.
  10. Increase the number of achievements I can include in my CV.
  11. Do something I have never done before in my life.
  12. Increase the size of the Pcrevice within the year (personal goal).
  13. Be able to do a handstand.
  14. Clear IPPT with a silver minimum.
  15. Be more confident of myself.
  16. Cook something I have not cooked before.
  17. Doing my best for everything I do!

I do hope that I can achieve at least 70% of what is listed here (that is around 12) and I hope getting into Medicine is part of what I can achieve.

Nonetheless, I hope you readers have your own 2017 goals in mind and do keep reviewing them from time to time to remind of yourself what you really want!

Last but not least, Happy 2017, and a happy new year :)!

Healthcare Outreach Project 2016

Yesterday summed up the Healthcare Outreach Project 2016!

Just a brief introduction, the Healthcare Outreach Project 2016, or HOP2016, is a student-initiated project to help students from both JC and Polytechnics alike to gain information they need to make an informed decision about their future healthcare career choices. This year, I am really glad to be able to be part of the HOP2016 Manpower committee and helped ensure that the event runs smoothly.

Basically, my role is to invite student and professional speakers over, liaise with them on the topics and be in charged of the post-event clinical attachments. Despite having these small roles in HOP2016, I have definitely learned a lot from this event.

1. Adapting to situations

There was this one incident where we were supposed to have a meeting at a certain time. Knowing that I am always early coupled with that quiet personality of mine, things might get into an awkward silence. As such, I would try to reach on time or appear when there are more familiar faces around. However, no matter how much delay I try to incorporate into my planning, I would never fail to reach early.

And honestly, I hate being always early and having to wait for people. It is extremely frustrating and I remembered waiting for 25 minutes for my group of friends and got so pissed and regretted wasting my 25 minutes there not being productive. 

I ended up being early, and the awkwardness ensued. The classical symptoms of me trying to isolate myself socially can be spotted by one without a need for an astute eye. In that period of intense tension, which lasted for 15 minutes, I was dying internally.

From then on, I have learned from this situation and adapt my timings based on the baseline data I gathered from meeting my friends. Next time, I would arrive 15 minutes later from the stipulated timing should I visit my Group A friends, and probably 30 minutes for Group B.

This is an important skill to learn, and it helps me to prevent unnecessary time wastage.

For those who are reading this, punctuality is a virtue and it says a lot about how much the people value your interaction and time out. Next time, do not be late, otherwise, make adjustments as needed.

2. Using logic and move on

Generally, I have seen people attempting to do the same thing over and over again even though things do not seem to work. Personally, I have experienced this for myself at first hand during the intubation simulation.

Without reading off from the instruction manual, I picked up the laryngoscope and force the hard palate of the mannequin down. That was when I stumbled across a conflict, do I compress down the uvula as well? I tried multiple times to compress them down to reveal the glottis, where the intubation tube will go in. But I simply cannot see.

For those who have no idea, intubation is a process in which a tube is inserted into the trachea via the mouth to keep your airways open. This usually is indicated for people who do not have the ability to breathe such as those with facial trauma, or compressed trachea.

Back to the story. Shortly after, I stopped and took a step away from the mannequin, trying to figure out what was wrong. That was when I saw the instruction booklet lying on top of the bed from the corner of my eyes (actually, it doesn’t make sense if you understand how vision works. What you see from the corner of your eyes is in front of your nose). I saw that the laryngoscope is supposed to hold back your tongue.

When I discovered my mistake, I wanted to try. However, the lab technician came over and showed us the right technique.

One lesson I picked up from this incident is that if you constantly try a method which doesn’t work after a few attempts. Stop and look for another approach. If it doesn’t work, no point trying to repeat the steps to prove yourself wrong that the method administered was correct.

The same thing happened just now when I was trying to locate for the participant’s details in the exhaustive list of names. No matter how much I tried to vary my search for this student’s name, I could not find it. That was when I discovered that the student could have signed up on the spot and that her information is not on the list at all.

3. Healthcare professions

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Among the four speakers I have invited for the sharing, two of them mentioned this quote. I definitely agree with this quote a lot and this is one of the quotes that pushed me towards healthcare.

The speaker from Medicine, Prof Low, spoke that “Healthcare is not for everybody. You have to be a people person.”

This was supported by Ms Chng, the representative from Nursing.

Essentially, healthcare career is not for everybody. People have their own comfort zones, have their own characteristics and personality. However, in order to be best suited for healthcare, one must be able to empathize with people and know how to connect to them. These group of people will last very long in their healthcare careers.

However, doesn’t mean that an introvert or someone with poor communication skills cannot join the healthcare sector. People change, personality can be transformed. If healthcare is really for you, regardless of your personality, you would be able to pull through. I understand this statement is contradicting, but just because you don’t fit into the list of “qualities”, doesn’t mean you’re not suited!

So if your passion lies in this field, go for it. Much like how I still strive to get into Medicine despite the 3-year battle with 14 rejection.

If you really know what you want, go for it. Never let others be a barrier to you.

This is one quote I set in my reminder that I constantly see. By sharing with you this quote, I hope that you will let this quote support you on what you have set your mind into.

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4. Healthcare has a lot of logic, but it involves aspects of humanity

Speaking of logic, I believed my logic is pretty much flawed. But logic is essentially an umbrella term to describe the different types of thinking processes that encompass the brain’s ability to work – be it with words, numbers or patterns. For me, my verbal reasoning is one of the worst, but neither are my other areas of reasoning.

Nonetheless, when I get the logic, my eyes would sparkle and the light bulb inside my head goes “blinggg…”!

Back at the simulation room for the auscultation of heart sounds, I was given an opportunity to listen to sounds from various cardiac pathologies. Sounds ranging from what you’ll expect to hear from a normal beating heart to heart murmurs, to stenosis of the aortic valve, these heart sounds completes the circuit of the light bulb hovering in my brain!

Well, let me explain with an example. Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic semilunar valves becomes harden and cannot close properly. When the stethoscope is placed in the 2nd intercoastal space, laterally to the right of the sternum (number 1 in the diagram), you will be able to hear a whooshing sound (sound of blood flowing) during contraction and relaxation but not at the other auscultatory sites.

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This is the logic part of science.

And I am extremely fascinated by the heart sounds (don’t ask me why, but I am).

However, in healthcare, things are not purely about the application of theory into practical. That is a small aspect of healthcare. The rest is about the art.

The art of healthcare stems from not just being able to feel, to communicate, but also to build rapport. These are things that textbook doesn’t teach you and this is the basis for many healthcare roles.

Without the art, I would have forced food down my patient’s throat rather than to slowly talk to them and build rapport before I seek for permission to feed.

Without the human touch, doctors would administer multiple test and scans on you and sending you back home despite you having a life-threatening condition that does not show up in normal blood test.

Can you imagine how scary this field will be?

5. Running event with a smaller committee

Post-event closure was the time where I discovered that the project director and vice project director decided to cut down the number of committee members to recruit. Indeed, I am surprised by their decision, but am glad for that because it definitely helps me establish the team camaraderie easier (even though I opened up nearing towards the end). I am also in another committee in-charge of another event, but that committee is 3-4 times bigger than what HOP has! Still, I am not very comfortable with the people in the committee, and I think this is one major barrier for good progression of events.

Too many cooks spoil the soup, and the lack of bonding with the committee members definitely hindered the progress (I felt) of the planning for the events. Credit this to poor communication, or poor foresight, but I really believe the committee head should have done something to bond the group over. Otherwise, the same silence is going to hang around the meetings ever since we were first selected.

6. Satisfaction

As a roamer during the events, I get to travel around to see what was happening at the various station. It was during my roaming session did I discovered one of the simulations (insertion of nasogastric tube) was only done by one station master. She was my classmate, and she did mention it was stressful the day before when she had another company. That was when I decided to drop by and help her with one session.

Even though I did not impart a lot of information relevant to the NGT, I provided them more insights to nursing and eventually, when the group breaks out to explore the other stuffs, one of them approached me and asked questions. Particularly, about me getting into medicine as a nursing student.

Prior that, this group I taught was the exact same group that I spoke to about “choosing the right choice in the healthcare profession.” I did warn them that passion is needed to last long and far in the field and I do hope that my sharing about the nursing field helped them gain a better understanding of the roles.

 

To be able to impact them and see them clarifying really helps me to see the extent of their interest and how much thoughts they are putting into their career choices. Happiness definitely swarmed over me, but not as much as what I received from one of the facilitators.

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On my way home after the closure session, I received a Whatsapp message from one of the facilitators, who happens to be in my course.

Receiving this from her is totally unexpected because I told her I wanted to do Medicine (for some reason, the conversation deviated to this direction) and how much I really wanted to go despite all the rejections. Not only was she very encouraging, she said she would support me in my journey! Honestly, that was one of the heartwarming things I’ve ever heard from people – that they will support me in my journey no matter what happens.

Then, I had this random conversation with my Project Director which started with me asking her about the interviews. Even though she was sworn to secrecy, she gave me a rough idea about how interview format is like and how to best prepare for them. Following that, she asked me why not nursing? Why not an advanced practice nurse? I guess I am kind of used to people exploring reasons why I don’t venture into nursing. I think this is good because it helps me clear up my thoughts even more, and affirmed my decisions to get into medicine, to become the doctor I always wanted to be.

Despite that, she said I really had the qualities of a good doctor and I will get in with my transfer application next year.

These are really encouraging to hear, but I have to still hold back. Nothing is confirmed yet, and there is not point celebrating over people’s support. I guess now I have to wait for 4 more months before the outcomes are released.

7. Opening up to others

Wow, this is one of the longer blog post I have ever written and a great deal of reflection too! However, it is important that I share and list them down in case my demented mind lose track of what I gained from my experiences.

Opening up to others is an extremely essential skill to get others open up to you. If you hold back, there is no way you are going to have someone sharing their stuff with you. Opening up is a lot easier when you have a role because people generally expected that. And it removes any non-physical barrier that can stymie interactions. Then again, after being through all these, I discovered that the only barrier that stops conversation from happening is the fear of awkwardness.

It is not easy to overcome that, even I am still learning how to do so, but this HOP experience had lifted a huge part of the fear I had in interacting with people. Hopefully, I am more confident and open to others now.

8. Looking from another perspective

Then again, I was wondering how come the students were so fearful of asking questions and opening up to others.

I discovered that the secret to open them up to for you to share your own personal experiences, be it funny or embarrassing, to break the ice standing between you and the students.

However, as a student myself who went to the DukeNUS open house the day before HOP2016 commence, I was touring around the school, watching how intubation works. I realized this presence of fear that was lingering around. This totally killed the atmosphere for fun and joy and halted me in my tracks of asking questions. If given a chance, I would have asked more questions back then.

Standing from the 3rd perspective, communication and interaction between both parties come from forces exerted by the two groups. The sharer must be able to, or at least try to, break the ice while the students (or interact-ees in general) must be receptive to be open.

Next time I face these situations, I would be more equipped to deal with them better.

Overall,

HOP2016 was a success and it gave me a lot of opportunities to learn and grow as an individual.

yangyew-0831And I really did not regret signing up for this, this was an awesome experience.

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