How You Can Choose The Perfect Residency Program: For New Board Passers and Forever Confused

Exam results are finally out! Congratulations new colleagues! What a saga it has been! But before you can even savor the sweet success of your long years of hard work, the next chapter is looming in. And for some of us the most secretly dreaded questions are: “Ano na isspecialize mo? (What field would you be specializing in?),” and “Saan ka na mag-apply? (In what institution do you plan to apply?)”

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Some would answer with certainty IM! SURGERY! PEDIA! But that’s not the case for all. There are others who would half-heartedly answer the field she used to want 3 years ago but not quite sure now. Don’t worry if you are one of the latter, you are not alone. There are a number of us. And another number who are just in denial that they are as unsure.

You know that feeling that you’re now supposed to be laboring your way into residency because that’s the fad. You fear you’re gonna be left out or stagnant if you don’t do the same. Hence, you start collecting requirements and look into different hospital options. You consider several things – the quality of training, patient load, salary, proximity, public versus private, consultants, and for some, a “backer”. On point, isn’t it?

But WAIT! Stop rushing! Don’t let deadlines dictate your future. Take a pause! Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat. Shut out the noise of the pressure around you. Re-think what you want to pursue. Do you want to pursue the applause of the world, do you want to pursue your aspirations or do you want to pursue the will of God in your life? Whichever you choose will dictate the next chapter of your life. Because whoever you choose, you choose as the author. Do you want your career to be authored by the world, by you or by God? 

Queer? Nope. But it sure is out of the typical. Surely you want to make a difference. You may not necessarily discover the cure for cancer, but you surely would make a difference in the life of every single patient you would handle. Because there is joy, peace, excitement and contentment in what you do. There is nothing more fulfilling than being at the center of God’s will. 

Here’s what you have to do:

1. You have to really pray about it. Pray hard – the way you prayed for your passing of the board exam. See, isn’t it a perfect example that He answers prayers. Don’t let God’s role in your life end with the board exam journey.

2. Be sensitive to hear the answer. God also speaks in a gentle whisper. Sometimes, we refuse to hear because we are in denial of the answer we are getting. Be brave. Obedience is not for the weak. 

3. While waiting for the answer don’t just sit around watching Netflix all day. Go to work. Moonlight. Talk to other doctors. Talk to mentors that can give you advices. Answers are also heard through people. 

4. Try different careers as a doctor – academe, research, company physician, dialysis physician, tourist guide, model, whatever. In that way you’ll know which specific career options to eliminate and those that could remain in the fish bowl. Amidst work, you’ll have that swelling sense of fulfillment, as if God is affirming, “this is what I have called you to do”.  

Refocus your lenses. Search the deepest desires of your heart. Don’t pursue the world because it is never satisfied, it will exhaust you. You get your doctoral, the next thing they want from you is a masteral. In the eyes of the world, you are never enough, never, never. You don’t want to be another doctor with a lot of letters suffixed to his name but is never truly happy. 

Habit 2 of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is about beginning with the end in mind. At the end of this race, how do you want to be known? This is the perfect time to reimagine yourself for the next 10 years. But this time, don’t be the15 year old you, picturing how many kids you’re having, or what car you’re driving. Imagine how your character, values, beliefs and joy will be defined. Be sure to make the right choice.  

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