Monday, June 25, 2007

The Hornet's Nest Stirreth

Recent reports of our local med school's discretionary admission policy apparently got some undergrads riled up, prompting one to call the SMA and launch into a diatribe about how letting poly students into this "most prestigious" course "cheapens" the whole profession.

The caller then emailed the SMA to elaborate, repeatedly using the term "respect" to drive home his/her point about the "cheapening" s/he claims the entire class s/he belongs to feels subjected to as a result of this "shocking change".

The gist of the letter is this: doctors in Singapore have always garnered high respect because we're considered the creme de la creme, despite having crappy hours and salaries. But we soldier on out of a sense of nobility and altruism, to help mankind, blah blah blah.

But in times of despair -- presumably when we all inevitably become frustrated with our lousy existences -- what gets us through is "RESPECT" ( caps lock included in the quote ).

And allowing poly grads to enter med school "takes away A LOT of respect from us".

This person then quotes a classmate who commented that "now I will feel
embarrassed telling my friends that I am in medicine", and laments that the course / profession will now elicit reactions along the lines of "Aiya, poly also can study one".

There's a lot more I didn't mention on this blog, but I think the above snippet sufficiently captures the essence of the letter, and I am most eager to garner as many comments on this as possible, so post away, dear readers.

If you're interested in my personal take on this, here it is:

1) The best grades in the world do NOT guarantee a good doctor.

2) Becoming a competent doctor isn't just about academic abilities. It involves careful honing of clinical skills, mastering the art of the bedside manner, maintaining a constant passion for self-improvement ( no easy feat as you grow older and more susceptible to fatigue ), among other things.

3) As for integrity, that's an entirely different kettle of fish, completely independent of educational qualifications and IQs.

4) If you think doctors in Singapore command a high level of respect, you're sadly mistaken.

5) If you think respect is the one thing which will help you stay afloat when you're sick and tired of your job, you're out of your mind.

6) Someone who claims to have noble and altruistic intentions does nothing to back up these proclamations by making severely elitist remarks.

7) If these poly students completed the entry requirements ( writing an essay, going through skills assessment , clearing the rigorous interview process ), then of course they've earned their places fair and square.

8) What of the affirmative action policy in the United States? Though not officially announced in Singapore, I'm sure some of us suspect it's happening here as well. Would the complainant consider this a travesty too?

I don't know this student personally, but his/her views ( allegedly shared by "many" of his/her classmates ) worries me terribly. Is this the future generation of doctors we're thrusting upon the population and the world at large?

As one senior SMA Council member sighed: "I feel saddened. Almost anguished."

Ditto on that sentiment.

Fire away, readers. I eagerly await your responses.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Good Day

Accompanied a group of 12-year-olds to the Jurong Bird Park today.

It was my first visit to the attraction in almost 10 years, and whoa, has it been revamped!

Really well done, with the addition of a few world's firsts and world's largests. Love the interactive segments ( check out the Lory Loft, Waterfall Aviary and pelican enclosures for starters ), and even the bird show's undergone major alterations to great effect.

The kids were on their best behaviour, and we found out that quite a number of them have troubled personal histories. But they're actually very sweet and appreciative, and considering that I was closest to them in age among the adults in attendance, we interacted a fair bit today, with hilarious results.

Best Kodak moment? How one of the boys, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow, practically doubled over with laughter when a parrot squawked the Birthday Song to him during the bird show. Shortly after, I overheard him telling his friends he "couldn't possibly be any happier".

It was my day off, but it was worth it. :)

A Good Night

Whenever any of us turn Associate Consultant, we worry about doing solo night shifts. Not just because it's pretty nerve-wracking at times ( if it's a busy Monday or weekend or public holiday ), but also because you get your first feel about your "karma".

And it's absolutely true that we all have specific karmas. I'm telling you this from personal experience.

One AC was labelled "legendary" for his notoriously horrendous calls. I managed to escape most of them, doing only 1 night shift with him during the past 2 years in the department, and it literally almost killed me. None of us could sit down the entire night, and there were so many resuscitations it was utterly insane. By 5am, I couldn't take it anymore and had to take a toilet break, gulp down some water, and slump in a chair for 5 minutes before carrying on.

Into my 2nd solo call last Saturday, I was relieved to discover that my karma was turning out to be rather favourable. Despite a 4-hour computer system downtime during a crucial period, we received an atypically low number of cases, and had zero resuscitations from 3am to 8am, after which the morning shift team took over.

I'm hoping this trend continues for the rest of my career. Haha. :)

Album Reviews

It Won't Be Soon Before Long -- Maroon 5

Great follow-up release to Songs About Jane, even though they're essentially polar opposites of each other.

SAJ had an acoustic, melancholy undertone yet also produced catchy pop-rock classics like This Love ( covered wonderfully by Blake Lewis on this season's American Idol ).

IWBSBL, on the other hand, deviates drastically from this formula, blending a small amount of pop/rock with loads of dance and electronica, with a much harder, edgier sound.

Reviews from fans have been mixed, but I belong to the group that gives it a 5-star rating. So what if it isn't SAJ II? Every piece is a gem, from the rousing opening number ( If I Never See Your Face Again ), to their current hit Makes Me Wonder.

My personal favourites ( for now ) are Little Of Your Time ( a psychedelic mix of discordant guitar riffs and cool electronica ), Wake Up Call ( grand and anthemic ) and Won't Go Home Without You ( a tribute to 80s rockers, including Sting ).

Even mainstream pop enthusiasts have something to chew on, namely Back At Your Door, which is perfect for the likes of American Idol contestants.

I suggest sampling ( or better still, purchasing ) Songs About Jane, if you haven't already done so. Secret is absolutely amazing, and the entire album complements IWBSBL beautifully.

Just wish the sleeve notes weren't such a mess. Went cross-eyed after a minute.

The Evolution of Robin Thicke -- Robin Thicke

I bought this for only one reason -- Blake Lewis' covers of When I Get You Alone, featured on Thicke's earlier release A Beautiful World. ( That Blake has been influencing my CD collection lately, heh heh. )

Sadly, I'm not exactly delighted with this disc, though it has its moments ( an understated yet effective Lost Without U, an interesting mambo-inflected Everything I Can't Have, and the lovely I Need Love ).

The rest of the album isn't living up to expectations, but I'll give it another week before I issue a final verdict. Thicke has a mildly annoying habit of swapping numbers for words, like "4" instead of "for", and "2" instead of "to". His CD sleeve notes are painful to read.

Am still considering ordering A Beautiful World though. When I Get You Alone, Lazy Bones and Brand New Jones are certainly worth the price.

YouTube Treasures

Peter Cincotti's new single, Goodbye Philadelphia, departs from his hard-core jazz roots but works magic nonetheless. His long locks are back, yes! :)

Robin Thicke's Brand New Jones: dig those nice dance moves; very slick. Love this song.

Blake Lewis belting Thicke's When I Get You Alone -- THE highlight of season 6, IMHO.

Relive those So You Think You Can Dance Season 2 moments!

1) Super-talented cousins Benji and Heidi doing the mad mambo -- get a bucket of ice ready!

2) Ivan and Allison burning up the dance floor with the Argentine Tango -- yow!

Catch the reruns on Channel 5 everyday at 6pm.

And of course, Kevin Spacey in his element, on David Letterman. How I adore this man. ( KS, not Letterman. :))

Today's outing has put me in a good mood. Can't wait to see those patients, heh heh.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On Hiatus... Sort Of

I've finally decided to take a break from this blog for a while. At least the medical writing bit.

I know being (mis)judged and getting flamed comes with the territory, and that most of my readers have been loyal and supportive.

But things are getting a little too close for comfort, and I honestly just need complete anonymity in order to salvage what's left of my sanity.

I will continue to post here from time to time, but the truly hard-core stuff is moving to a new home, the address of which will not be divulged to anyone, so please don't ask.

I greatly look forward to starting this new chapter. Who knows, we might meet again sometime in the future, though you obviously won't know it's me. :)

But for now, I recommend you get your hands on new albums by Maroon 5 and Russell Watson ( both are worth the money, but the former is clearly much better than the latter ) and give Robin Thicke a listen ( must buy his 2003 release from Amazon! )

Last but not least, those with queries about emergency medicine are always welcome to drop me a line.

Take care, be well, and see you around.