Ahmad Sampang ibnu Hajiri, MD

A Personal blog by a Tausug medical student (now a doctor!) from Sulu and the stories that inspired him.
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[Helpful for: All LUs/Year levels but not in all schools]

Assalamu Alaykum! (Greetings of Peace!)

Transcriptions or “transes” are the concise and summarized copies of the lectures by your professors. There should be some people who will do the dirty job of transcribing, and they are called the transcribers or in short: “Transers”

Your class will usually divide you into groups of transers with three members each (some schools will have only two) and you will be assigned to a scheduled lecture for you to transcribe. It is then your responsibility as the transers to get the necessary and significant information discussed in the lectures. You also have to do your best to persuade your lecturer to give you a copy of their presentations and handouts. Some professors are generous while others are just plain, nasty ones. So you have to be prepared if you have to start from scratch for the trans. But this (starting from scratch) does not happen very often as you will also be given a copy of the past transes where you can “pattern” your own transes.

But hey! DO NOT JUST COPY-PASTE THE PAST TRANS TO YOUR TRANS! All your classmates will hate this and you will eventually get the “Lazy Transers Award”. Just use the old trans as your guide, you can copy some parts of their trans but be sure to let it appear that you made some changes as well. Although you might get the same lecturer with the same topic and the same content from the past transes all throughout, you must as much as possible do some “revisions”. Add new notes discussed by your professors that were never mentioned in the past, and your group can decide if you will retain or delete those parts that were never mentioned by your professors (unless if he/she says “read the past transcriptions” which means it will appear in the exams).

As a group, you three must work together and divide the tasks equally. You have to agree first on how you divide the work: some would divide them by parts/pages while others divide it by “tasks” (revisions, formatting, final editing and uploading, printing and submission). Then you decide on the deadlines for each task so that you will be able to submit on time and avoid the sanctions.

All in all, a good team dynamics should play here. It will always be a pain if one of your group mates will not help in the transcribing especially if you are assigned in a very bad schedule—the last lecture before the exam. And because you will be grouped alphabetically according to your surnames, you really have no choice but to work with the ones next or before you. So you better get to know your trans-mates’ attitudes and skills, who is good at this and that, and who is more responsible and who is not. Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and try developing a good working chemistry. You really have to find ways--no matter what—to make your team work effectively. Each one of you must be able to help in transcribing and be responsible with his/her task without sacrificing the quality of your transes.

Well, you will get used to your transmates later on. You HAVE to get used to it somehow for you really have no choice. Haha. I am honestly blessed to have great transmates from the very beginning :) Hi Meggie and Karl! :D

 Salam Kasilasa!
Anakiluh, MD

For more posts under the "Life in Medschool Series" (LIMS) click here.

[Helpful for: All LUs/Year levels but not in all schools]

 Assalamu Alaykum! (Greetings of Peace!)

We have our daily lectures, and we want a copy of the handouts and presentations by our lecturers as much as possible, but where do we get them? This is where the heroic term “Transcription” comes in handy.

The Transcriptions or shortly “Trans” (plural: Transes) are printed and/or electronic copies of the handouts, presentations, and other discussions in your past lectures. They are basically (and supposedly) the concise and summarized version of the whole lecture. These trances will always come in handy during exams so every medstudent must have a copy of these wherever they go (except the super nerd ones).

Transes are prepared by the assigned transcribers or “transers" (will be discussed on the next post) and it is their responsibility to get all the necessary and significant information from the lectures in their trans. Depending on the agreed schedule of deadlines of submissions by your class, the transes will be uploaded in your class’ online storage account or printed and be delivered to your respective transboxes.

[photo of transbox]

Should you Subscribe?

Usually, you will be given the choice if you want to subscribe to the printed transes or not. When you subscribe, the printed copies of the trans will be delivered into your transboxes after 1 or 2 days. But should you subscribe? Well it’s up to you of course, and it all depends on how effective these transes will be for you.

Some students prefer reading transes in paper. They would often say:
“We love the touch of paper wherein we can highlight and scribble some doodles, I mean, notes on them.”
“I can study better with printed transes than the e-copies in my i-pad/tablet. I get easily distracted when I have my ipad with me”
“Prints are better, you can keep them and send them as gifts to your future buddy :D”

[photo of trans]
Some students on the other hand would rather opt for the electronic copies instead. Their reasons? “Printed transes are not colored, we can’t identify which is which in them!”,
“Would rather have an online copy, it’s easier to search the terms”,
“You pay for the printed copies and they come in late! What the fumbles is that!”,
“Too many bills to pay, can’t afford another set of fees.”
“I just want to feel that I am doing something because I downloaded the e-copies (and never actually read them until 2 hours before the exam).”

There might be more undocumented reasons by the students but it all boil down to one thing: It’s all about your study preferences. Do you perform well reading printed than electronic copies? Then subscribe. Do you hate papers and you have a readily accessible internet? Then don’t subscribe just download the e-copies.

The Trans Quality  

You now have ideas about the transcriptions and you have finally decided whether to subscribe or not. Now you feel you are well prepared and ready to face any exams that will come your way. But wait, is that the right thing to do?

No. An important reminder to all medstudent is that “Transes are not sure-win measures to pass the exams” and “not all transes have good quality”. They may be helpful because they are summarized and only the important bullet-points are there, but you have to remember that it can never replace your real references: the medical books. Transes are also prone to many errors and corrections and also subjected to the transcribers quality of making the transes—believe me there will be a few Trash-trans that you will read. And so the best way to maximize your learning experience here is by doing the following:

1)      Read in advance the past transes from last year’s class (you will be given copies by your buddies);
2)      Attend your lectures, listen and take notes;
3)      Have a reference book with you to check the infos in the trans;
4)      Get those transers who do a poor job in transcribing (not really required)

That would be all for this topic :D I do hope you are enjoying your first few weeks in medschool! ;D Welcome to the club!

Salam kasilasa!
Anakiluh, MD

For more posts under the "Life in Medschool Series" (LIMS) click here.

[Helpful for: LU3 and LU4 (1st and 2nd Year)]

Assalamu Alaykum! (Greetings of Peace!)

We will jump from the topic on “lectures” to one of the dreaded yet fun type of exams: the Kodachrome exams!

This was supposed to be in the later part but knowing the schedule of the exams is already near, I have to push this post up the schedule in hopes of it to be of use somehow. Disclaimer! I am not the best guy to give you these tips, but because no one is doing it, then what’s the trouble of doing it instead? Haha!

So what is a Kodachrome exam? This one goes back in time immemorial when medstudents are still using the real kodachrome machine where pictures of specimens (usually tissues) will be projected on a white screen. (In LU4, you will experience using a real kodachrome machine thru Dr. Dimacali’s lectures in pathology :D). Nowadays we are using the overhead LCD projectors with the ever-so-convenient MS Powerpoint presentations where digital copies of the specimens will be projected and the students will be asked to identify them or answer certain questions in a limited allotted time. The term “kodachrome” is still being used for these kinds of exams.

So how do you nail these exams? Here are some helpful tips:

1.       Never miss the Histology lectures!
Attend all your histology classes especially those by Dr. Mantaring. Just by attending her lectures, you will eventually feel like a genius who knows it all and you would never have to read the transes again. Nothing beats the experts in teaching you how to identify which is an epithelial tissue and which is not.

2.       Attend the Histology Reviews!
There will always be Histology reviews conducted especially for the LU3 students. The histo-review is usually conducted by the Medical Student Society (MSS) every year. This year’s first Histo-review was held last August 22 in BSLR-E and I hope the LU3s attended that one.
Exam Reviews are really helpful in giving you more ideas and tips on how to top or at least pass the exams. They would more often give you sample exam questions that you can try answering and see for yourself how ready you are for the exam. Never, ever miss the chance to attend any exam reviews. You will be really grateful to these guys later on when taking the exam.

3.       Read your books!
Refer to your Histology books (printed or electronic) and master all those seemingly similar images. They may look all the same to you, but try looking for “key points” in distinguishing which tissues you are looking at. Does it have more adipose, soft or skeletal tissues? Are there more mucous or serous layers? Are we looking at a keratinized or non-keratinized tissue? How do neutrophils differ from basophils, eosinophils and macrophages? Don’t rely on one image only, look for different images and see how you can distinguish them one from the other.
Of course, read the details in each image as well. There will be some questions in the exams that will require you to identify the function or the location where you can find these cells. Master them like how you master the faces and names of each pokemon and their powers. I’m serious!

4.       Review your notes/transes!
Same as your books, transes can also be handy. Important points are far easier to find in your transcriptions as they are already in summarized bullet form. I would prefer the online copies or colored printed copies because you could distinguish which is which (compared to photox copies which are terribly horrible).

5.       Test yourself in online sample quizzes.
If you still have some spare time, go online and find some student-friendly sites where you can test yourself in answering sample questions in histology. They are more often than not similar to what your professor will ask. Take note of your wrong answers and learn why you got it wrong and then immediately review your notes (unless if the topic was not included in the lectures).

6.       Pray.
Perhaps the most important one is this: Pray.
Our lives as medstudents are full of challenges and surprises. And there certain things you are not able to take control of. So first, do your part and study your lectures AND put your trust in God that He may make things easier for you during the exams. Do this every night before your exams and minutes before the exam starts, send a silent prayer, and start with Bismillah (In the name of Allah).

Now here’s what you should do DURING THE EXAM: 

]Helpful for: All LUs/Year levels]

Assalamu Alaykum! (Greetings of Peace!)

Being a medstudent means attending to seemingly endless classes: from boring lectures to eye-popping histo-labs and neck-breaking cadaver dissections. What is the purpose of the word “student” anyway if you don’t attend those classes that will—ehem—prepare you in your future professional career? And so, as much as we lazy students want to skip all those classes, we cannot deny the fact that we really need them—badly need them.

But hey! Not all classes will be full of boring 100+ presentation slides; there will also be some cool professors with cool ideas to make their lectures livelier. Ever attended a class where you played games all throughout? How about a whole 3 hours of lecture while standing? Or just sitting back and watch a good movie? (Although I hate the “reflection papers” after those films). And how about professors that suddenly throw firecrackers inside the room to wake you up? Haha! You will experience them once in a while, only here in medschool. The idea here is you must attend your classes regularly! Not just for signing that attendance sheet and just doze off later on. Attend them so that you will learn and discover new things. Some may be not so interesting, but they will still be helpful.

There are some students who prefer reading the books and transcriptions (lecture notes) than attend their classes, while others would prefer attending their classes then review their notes. It’s all up to the student actually if he can really handle it that way. But for me, I believe attending the classes and listening to the experts during their lectures would really make a change. Missing a class and just reading the notes after means you will be missing the key points the lecturer might have highlighted in class the transcribers may have failed to include.

So the very first thing that a student in the Medical field should learn is that Medicine is a life-long process of education. You have to keep on learning and learning, study and discover new things. It never ends with the exams and the agonizing results. Our learning journey only stops when we finally breathe our last. (Meaning until the end of our lives).

And that, my friend is my advice: If you really want o survive in medschool, attend your classes regularly. There may be times that you have to miss them for some very, very good reason, but as much as possible avoid missing the important lectures. Believe me, I have missed a couple of lectures and I regret missing them. (Of course there will also be some exceptions here, but let’s not talk about them haha).

Salam kasilasa!
Anakiluh, MD

For more posts under the "Life in Medschool Series" (LIMS) click here.

[Helpful for: All LUs/Year levels]

Assalamu Alaykum! (Greetings of Peace!)

So you made it to the most prestigious Med-school in the country. Congratulations! And say, Alhamdulillah (All praise is due to Allah)! And now you are part of a class composed of the selected crèmes among the crèmes of the crops; you all came from brilliant pasts, young minds who had very amazing accomplishments, those who graduated with flying colors in their past academic career (be it in college or high school). And yes, believe it or not, you are now part of that team!

Yeah. That was too much praise I think. Not a good thing to do. Huhummm.

Being the most prestigious school with the highest standard and the hardest “way to enter”, you can expect no less from those who really qualified and got accepted in each class. They are usually the Laudes (Suma, Magna, etc.) from the famous schools around the country. There will even be some who came from abroad. There are also the young geniuses who skipped high-school and went straight to medschool: The 40 IntarMed Direct entrants. You will meet them every day in class, be amazed by them, and you would never even believe that you are part of the class (Well, at least that was how I felt then).

But hey, do not be intimidated (like me). You were there because you were chosen as well. You went through the same screening processes, and among the thousand great minds and souls who applied, only 160 were chosen for each class, and you are indeed one of them. So be thankful to Allah for that opportunity to grow and train in this institution. And never ever be arrogant.

Meet new friends from your class. Look for those who have the same dreams and aspirations as you. Find those whom you share a common interest. Believe me, these guys might be geniuses but they are still humans: they love to watch movies, Korean series, play guitar, draw, sing, dance or just do nothing but sleep. Just explore and you will surely find a lot of good buddies among them.

It might be hard to remember all their names in the beginning and you will end up confused who is who. But by the end of the year you will surely get by. Be open and learn new things with them. Your Class will be your team throughout your academic medical career. And they will also be your future colleagues when you become doctors one day. So start building your network now, start from your classmates, start from your colleagues.

After spending more than two years in Medschool, I have met a lot of new friends in my class. All of them are pretty awesome with their own unique stories and characters. I have worked with my group-mates for years and we already know each others' strengths and weaknesses and we always try to help each other. This is indeed important in medschool as you will be indulged in so many group works, and having a good team dynamics is a crucial thing.

So, make it a mission to meet and know all the names and faces of your 159 classmates :) You will always end up working with most of them in one of your future rounds somehow. And you never know, you might find that “special someone” among them. Haha.

Any suggestions? Email me. My new email address for non-professional, non-academic purposes is anakiluhmd@gmail.com

Salam Kasilasa!
Anakiluh, MD

For more posts under the "Life in Medschool Series" (LIMS) click here.

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just saying. -Dr. Ahmad