Cliched as it sounds, it surely is a long journey.
Had my viva yesterday, a 40-minute Q&A session based on my portfolio. The portfolio that I rushed till literally the very last minute, forgoing sleep for all of 48 hours prior to submission. I was so burdened by the stress, I can't even imagine how I ever survived staying awake all night just typing away on my laptop. Trust me to procrastinate again, on probably the most important work of my life to date.
And the rut I got myself in surely didn't end there, oh no. Of all the examiners, I got the Coordinator of Surgical Shadowing AND the Dean of Medical School for my viva. Funnily enough, even though I was not really proud of my portfolio (goes without saying it wasn't the best of my work), I wasn't really nervous. I actually felt rather prepared, having spent 2 weeks studying and practising talking about all the things I managed to include in my portfolio.
On the day of my viva, as I walked towards the CSU, I felt like my whole world just centred around me at that moment. My whole medical education has come to this. I wanted to tell myself please don't screw this up, please don't screw this up, but all I could do was .. smile. I was smiling all the way walking to the hospital, down the stairs into CSU, sitting on the chair outside the room, knocking on the door, opening it to greet my examiners.
It just felt so unreal. I couldn't believe this is it.
And as if it was just my luck, the external examiner had to observe MY viva, among the dozens of other students. Not that it would make a difference. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could actually do it. My smile was genuine, and I can't even wipe it off my face, let alone anyone else. I still couldn't believe I have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.
"Did you enjoy doing your portfolio? Because we did enjoy reading it. If you could choose one part of your portfolio, which part are you most proud of?"
And it began. The defining moment of my life as a medical student. My last moment as a medical student, fingers crossed.
What I thought would be the longest 40 minutes of my life, passed me by in an instant. I just remembered talking so fast that my brain couldn't even catch up. The words just came out like I have memorised a script. I was on autopilot mode.
The rest of the day after my viva I couldn't get much rest. I was so excited, so nervous, so worried, that I couldn't get anything done, couldn't concentrate on anything at all. As it stands, the results was going be posted on the board at 9am the next morning, less than 24 hours after my viva.
That night I woke up a few times, not able to get any good sleep. Had to force myself back to sleep because it was not 9am yet, and I can't bear staying up all morning watching every agonising second pass by. Eventually 9am came, and I rushed off to the Medical School Office as fast as I could, with my heart in my throat. Now I know what that expression felt like.
Only to see my other fellow batchmates still waiting for the results as well. It was not released at 9am as stated. Which meant more palpitation-inducing minutes to wait. It was 9.30am when the results eventually went up on the board.
It almost drove me crazy waiting for the results list to be posted, but running through the list of names trying to find mine is even worse, if that's even possible. My eyes could barely focus.
And then I found it.
There's my name. There, buried among all the names of future successful doctors.
5 years of my life have culminated to this point, the point I had only dreamed of. Is this it?
Have I finally finished medical school?
5 years .. took me long enough.
*heaves the biggest sigh of relief in my life*
And I thank all my friends, batchmates, seniors, teachers, tutors, doctors, hospital staff, patients, and every single person who I came across in my life as a medical student. You have all made me who I am today, and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude enough.
Thank you for the most significant 5 years of my life. It has changed my life in so many ways.
I felt like I finally grew up.