August 03, 2012

On People: Tristan Torres, Med Student

Tristan Torres, Medicine Student
Popular culture has glamorized and marginalized the practice of medicine at various turns. From Dr Jekyll to McDreamy, we go behind the scenes to see if becoming a doctor is really that weird, that sexy and that supervillain-prone. Can you handle the pressure? We talk to med student, Tristan Torres to give us his diagnosis.

Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Tristan, on my 3rd year of medical school and on my 25th year of living...on Earth.

Tell us a weird quirk of yours. 
To judge something as weird would be totally subjective, but if we must consider the current social construct in the Philippine cultural setting, I could say that I am thoroughly engrossed in looking at the evidences of the collective habit of the public. A quick example would be the narrow dirt paths that you see spanning the grassy fields or the worn-out, tarnished curves of a doorknob, and even the pant-chipped walls of the train where the sleepy passengers’ heads lie and tilt. Watching people and their habits is actually a fun thing to do, much like watching ants moving in a straight line. Haha

Why did you decide to go to Medical School?
I have always aspired to be a doctor for as long as I can remember, it could probably be because both my parents are also physicians but it was more of seeing them get to talk to, laugh with and help a lot of people everyday. Somehow, I saw myself happily living that way. ^_^ There’s also another reason as to why I decided to take up medicine and become a doctor, I thought about my future family, being sick is inevitable, and if ever my wife, my son, daughter or grandson were to get sick, I’d be able to help them right then and there, in a way, it’s sort of my way to be able to protect them even more just like how my parents are with me and my siblings.
Tell us about your typical day. Wakeup at 5am, fall from bed at 5:30, get dressed and leave for school at around 7am (most of the time I skip breakfast at home and just get some at school). Classes from 8am til 5pm. Get home at 6pm, have dinner, brush up on the things to do for tomorrow, catchup on latest tv series online til 10pm, put on music and do a light mind wandering for half an hour, prepare stuff for tomorrow, get to bed at 11~12am. 

Who or what inspires you and why?
Damn proud of my parents (two of the best doctors and people in my town to say the least). 

What was the best thing that ever happened to you in med school?
Being able to meet very interesting people from all walks of life. I came from the province (Laguna) and although it isn’t as rural as everyone thinks it would be, there’s nothing quite like the hustle and bustle of the urban community of Manila. Yes, I still do have a social life in medicine, it's actually a myth that med students are hermits. 

What can you say about the med schools and med students?
It’s like a world, within a world. Even though everyone has their own understanding of what a med student is and how life in medicine is like, one cannot fully comprehend its true meaning without living it. The pressure is real, the inferiority complexes are real, the constant fear and paranoia are real, being overwhelmed is a daily obstacle, and nobody is ever ahead of their work and studies, and it feels like there’s no breathing room anymore. But along with this misery comes priceless moments of fascination, discovery, enrichment, compassion and camaraderie. Learning about how the body works, having the ability to relinquish people's ill faces and realizing that today, you have saved a life, is what keeps the classrooms full. It’s also true that the school, the teachers and even your classmates are all out to get you, ridicule your mistakes and bring you down; it may seem inhuman and cruel, but actually, if you come at it the right way, it toughens you up, it motivates you and ultimately, gets you to the end. The phrase “nobody’s perfect” can be anymore true in med school, it's fine to commit mistakes, but one should always learn from them. A doctor once told me that you can never be too serious in medicine or rather, in life, you should learn to laugh at your mistakes. 

What was the most memorable moment you have had as a med student?
There have been many memorable instances during my stay in medicine but I have always remembered how I felt the first time I was faced with a real patient and how comfortable I was with them and how I made them smile or even let out a chuckle. I may not have been able to treat their illness yet, but I have at least made them forget it even for a brief moment.

What message do you have for people who want to go to Medical School?
Never go in half-baked and undecided, if you do, you’ll just end up wasting a ton of money and time. Better sort out and plan what you really want to do in life and then decide to do it. Once you start studying in medicine, you keep on studying until you retire, you can’t stop. Contrary to popular belief, not all doctors end up rich, in reality, you start earning a decent amount of money only when you’re 37 (a review teacher for NMAT showed us the complete breakdown of the all the years that will be spent). BUT, becoming a doctor is practically becoming self sufficient, you may not earn a lot of money, but you can work practically ANYWHERE and make a living! (earning bananas, live chickens and freshly harvested rice if you practice in the provinces, haha!) Medicine (course) requires endurance, dedication and determination to be able to survive. It’s not the easiest profession but it is certainly the most rewarding.          

How do we contact you?
You can contact me via facebook ( or send me a DM on twitter (@niquanor).

Any interesting websites you would like to share?
DO checkout, it’s kind of hard to explain but it’s essentially a community of communities of smart, witty and fun people from the internet that let’s you see the most awesome, cool, knowledgeable and funniest things the world has to offer, anything from corgi dogs to game of thrones, male fashion advices to post rock music, whatever interest you may have, there’s a community in reddit that would certainly love to have you! :D

Listening to : R U Mine? by Arctic Monkeys
         loving: True Blood S5
             =( : waiting for GOT S3

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