Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

Someone asked me the other day what my GPA was in college. I answered  2.4. They couldn't believe it. "Don't you have to be a 4.0 or something to get into medical school? " they queried. Well, yes and no.

I did not go to medical school under the straight path that the US presents from HS to college to med school. In fact, I have a little axe to grind about that one.
In order for someone to have a 4.0 or close you have to do nothing but study. No social life, no tramping around the world to see its wonders and engage with its people, just nose to book seat of pants to seat of chair. As we all know those folks are so scared of not getting an A they will cut their grandmother's throat for a point. Fonts of compassion, and we wonder why the American public complains.

I was in college from 1967-1971. My papers said I was a biology major, but I secretly majored in MARCH ON WASHINGTON, along with hundreds of thousands of other people.

Three out the the four years I was in college, CCNY went Pass/ Fail in the Spring semester due to being shut down so often. This was the cauldron of societal change, and I was in the spoon! I was swirled this way and that, mixing, blending, feeling deeply about my cause to save my classmates, friends, and essentially any eligible male my age from being sent to certain death in Southeast Asia.

The day my grandmother, mother, and I locked arms down FIFTH AVENUE for a protest, now that was powerful. I didn't know whether to march under my college, church, or neighborhood banner. EVERYONE was there exercising our rights to let WASHINGTON know we had enough and wanted out of a dirty, pointless war.

Back to my story. I graduated in 1971. If you think the economy stinks now, try meatless Tuesdays, it was a national trend. We didn't eat grapes ( migrant worker sympathy ) or lettuce for a long time. Unemployment was 20%.

Now there were exactly NO jobs for a recent college grad that did not involve typing and answering telephones or waiting tables. And, the bigger your bra size, the better your chances at any job. I had been blessed in that department, so I got a typing job. And I was going to Grad school part time.
My 30 words a minute with mistakes were mitigated by my D cup and curvy figure. The boss ran me around his desk at quitting time a few times, but I had young legs and didn't get caught. It took me another 30+ years to figure out other girls ran slow and probably picked up a little extra in the pay envelope.

Grad school was an excuse for not knowing what to do with myself, so that was essentially a bust.

No boyfriend ( see above lack of available males due to draft ), and no real prospects, I spun my wheels for two years.

THEN ONE DAY, and I am NOT MAKING THIS UP, a young woman comes into the office where I am working relief at the reception desk over lunch. She is looking for a coworker who left the building but will be back later. We talk. She tells me how she is going to Medical School in Spain. Who knew?

Tells me, Ms. Gullible, that I can do this too! College is not a problem, all you need is a HS diploma!
Technically right, but not entirely truthful, I find this out 10 months later.

1pm, I march myself into the boss, quit my job, and grab the NY Times.


2pm, I have a better job, new lecher boss, but the money is more. I now work 5 days a week because I decide never to show up again to Grad School.

Fast Forward 9 months. I receive a letter in Spanish, a language I do not read or understand. I think it says I can go to MED SCHOOL.
I give the cat to my mother,possessions to friends, and my car to my brother. I board a plane for Spain, this also is not made up.

Arrive in Spain. Letter  actually says I can take the entrace exam in three weeks. I lean enough Spanish in three weeks to pass the academic part of the test. I flunk the Spanish for non native speakers test. School does not start for some odd reason until three months later. I retake test in three months. This time I pass the language exam. :)

I AM ADMITTED AND IN MEDICAL SCHOOL. Not just any school. This is one of the Universities that was around in the 1500's. I call that Tradition. It seems they are liberal about letting you in for the first year. Then the fun begins. You are weeded out during the process, and in the end the European system graduates about the same number of students/ year as the American system. Selection is different, acutally more democratic. Sink or swim, live or die. You get to be an academic grind for six years, but with some sanity instilled. First students didn't work, and workers didn't study. Choose one, so I could only study. They there were so many Catholic holidays where school was closed, you got a few breaks. Testing was done at the end of the academic year, a six week hellish round of final exams, so if you blinked somewhere in November you had a chance to catch up. No school during the summer, hey, its summer. It runs six years instead of four years, you are able to actually practice when you leave school. You can either be a GP immediately, or get a specialty after that.

I didn't come up for air for six years, but you know the end of the story!

So the next time you think the front door
to an opportunity is closed, try the side window.

Until next time................:)

1 comment:

  1. You Rock!! Always a bit unconventional myself, I can appreciate your choices.