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New Doctor on Med School Journey: "I was always just below average to average"

"I still failed so many more times after that, but I kept going."
IMAGE FACEBOOK/Karina Lipardo

The results for the 2020 physician licensure examinations have just been released and we now welcome 3,538 new doctors. While all we see is the success story of the exam passers on the list released by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), there are countless moments of struggles and downfalls involved in each of their journeys. 

One success story that might motivate you is that of Karina Angela G. Lipardo, M.D. Dr. Karina is one of the 3,538 passers of the November 2020 physician licensure examinations. She graduated from Cebu Institute of Medicine, the top performing school in the board exams this year. Her story might not be something you'd usually see on the news, but it's an inspiring one that's worth a look, especially for those who have been constantly battling self-doubt.

Read her story below:

The first picture is a slip of paper that contained my first year first bimonthly average grade. A few weeks before the boards while I was looking through my things, I found this piece of paper that I kept all these years. And I remembered the day we got these grades. That day, my first year groupmates said we should all look at our grades at the same time so we know who needs the most help. I was so against it because I preferred to look at grades alone, but they insisted. Everyone else opened their grades and then smiled at each other and said “Ok ra ko. Pasar ra” I looked down at my grade. 65. And the passing was 70. And I realized I was the only one who had failed. It was my first big failure in my life. I didn’t say anything at first, until they all stared at me and so I said “FINE I FAILED!! Is that what you want to hear??” And literally stormed out of the room and cried #drama HAHA I thought they would be overly competitive and be happy that I failed. But I was wrong. They followed me outside and told me, “You can cry today, but you try again tomorrow.” And that is something I have always kept with me for 5 years. I told myself that after every exam in med school and even while I was taking the boards. My groupmates always helped me become better. They studied out with me in Starbucks until closing time, they explained to me in detail every histo slide one by one before every practical exam, and they told me to stop crying when I was being overly dramatic lol. It was then when I realized that there was no “I” in Med school. We were in this together. Nobody gets left behind.

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The second picture, which is me doing a jump shot in the classroom, was taken the first time I passed an exam in med school. It was taken 5 months after we started. So yes, I failed every exam every week for 5 straight months. I posted this picture on ig and fb on that day so I would always remember. I still failed so many more times after that, but I kept going. I just wanted to keep striving to be better. And every year, I did. Slowly, my grades would consistently get better than before. But this is not the kind of story where I magically ended up on the top of my batch HAHA No, I was always just below average to average. Actually, I even graduated on the bottom half of my batch. But from first year to fourth year there was always improvement. And I am so proud of myself for that.

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When you see my batch ranking or my grade, all you see is a number. But for me, I see all the times I cried but still kept trying, all of the times I wanted to quit but didn’t, and all of the small victories like this one that helped me keep going.

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Self doubt was always a part of my med life. From having good grades in high school and college, med school was filled with failures and so much disappointment. I doubted myself almost every step of the way. But I am so glad that I always proved myself wrong every time. And I realized that simply believing in yourself can really make all the difference.

We always celebrate the people who really excel in med school (and for good reason), but to be honest majority of people in med school are like me, those who were never acknowledged for anything great, but pushed themselves everyday to reach their dreams.

So here’s to us, the average to below average students! Because we are not defined by our grades or our rankings. We are defined by our grit, our perseverance, and our passion. And those are the things that make truly great doctors.

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And of course, here’s to my batchmates, my groupmates, my friends. I could not have made it without all of you. You inspired me to be better every day. I don’t think anyone can survive med school without people who will pick you up and help you when you need it the most. No competition, just a strong support system. All we wanted as a batch was to have that CIM 100%. And we finally did it. We finished strong and left nobody behind. This was truly my proudest moment.
Here’s to my family, who supported my dreams for over 9 years. Thank you for your patience and understanding all the times I missed family gatherings or events because I had to study. Thank you for making sure I was always comfortable and had everything I needed. I know I’m not one of the best students, but I still hope that I’ve made you proud.

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Here’s to my dad, my greatest inspiration. Before I took the boards, I told him I was going to be a doctor already. He told me “Tambali ko ha?” (Translation: Treat me, okay?) I can now, Pa. You will always be my first and my favorite patient.

For all those in med who are still going through the same things I went through, just remember you’re not alone. I hope that this inspires you to tell yourself that you can do it too no matter how many times you have failed. Yes it gets harder, but YOU get better. Every time.

Oh and lastly, the third picture? That’s my name on the list of passers of the Nov 2020 PLE. The culmination of everything I went through. My lifelong dream realized. It is the end of this chapter, and the beginning of another.

So that’s my story. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this long but worthwhile journey.

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Karina Angela G. Lipardo, M.D. 

License number: TBA

See Karina's original post here.

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