Outnumbered


Wherever you go, there always seems to be at least one conversation about reforming the education system in Jordan. Students are suffering, parents are complaining, and even the teachers and professors are unhappy about it. One complicated equation that seems to have endless contributing factors.

Our education system is far from perfect. I know because I’m currently doing my  5th year of medical school, which is a 6-year program here in Jordan. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I think the root of the problem comes down to one thing: the number of students, which I recently discussed alongside my seniors in an interview for The Jordan Times.

Lectures

While many schools have abandoned this ancient method of teaching, it seems to become our only resort in Jordanian universities. The large number of students is making it harder each year to conduct small discussion groups, forcing us into lecture halls with 500 other students!!!!

Professor-Student Relationships

Have actually become almost nonexistent. With 500+ students being admitted into medical school every year (and only a fraction of that number of professors) has diminished the possibility of creating any sort of mentor-student relationship.

The Latest Trade

Although our facilities cannot accommodate the huge number of students being admitted every year, the amount of money in fees poses a significant income for universities. Of around 700 students getting accepted annually, only the first 200 or so pay the regular fee, which adds up to around 1800 Jordanian dinars per year, but the remaining students pay an additional fee which can reach around 7000 JDs!

Where is the money going?

And here lies the important question. Our facilities aren’t being developed, we lack so many tools and space for labs and practical work, and the list of problems continues! There are a lot of students, they require more labs, more lecture rooms, more lockers even, but there doesn’t seem to be a growing process in terms of equipment that’s consistent with that of the number of students.

How many hospitals are there in Jordan?

There are a handful, but definitely not enough to create jobs for everyone graduating the field. There are 4 universities who give MDs to at least 400 students per university, and of those only a tiny fraction are offered residency opportunities in the country. We currently have 2 or 3 universities (I lost count to be honest!) that recently opened up medical schools, which is only increasing the number of doctors in Jordan without creating jobs for them in the first place. We have come to a time where doctors are unemployed!!

And it’s not only about jobs, even during your clinical training at university, the number of students has become so large that we go see patients in groups of 20 students! This not only disrupts the learning process for us students, it really demeans the patient’s right to a respectful stay at the hospital.

Who can fix it?

The million dollar question! Every time this issue is brought up, the finger is pointed to someone else. The faculty doesn’t take blame, the university blames God knows who and the cycle is ongoing. There doesn’t seem to be a plan to either reduce the inflow of students, to create a suitable learning environment that keeps up with international standards, or even to create jobs for the graduating MDs.

Bottom Line

We’re circling the drain. Jordan’s medical schools are known worldwide for their excellent teaching and Jordan remains one of the top (if not the top) destinations for medical help. It is unquestionable that we have excellent doctors, and wonderful teachers, but everyone has a limit, and every system has a capacity. We should expand ours to maintain the reputation we have, and to live up to the modern advancements in medicine.

What are your thoughts? Please let me know!

 

Unreal


How easy has it become to share a picture, thought or feeling. Traveling distances has become a matter of your internet connection speed rather than measured miles. Documentation of tens of thousands of pieces of information has become confined to a 5×5 cm chip. 

This era of technology has not only made sharing ridiculously easy, it has also created a whole new world of job opportunities, media and policies that no single person can control. Everything has become a trend. What you share, how you share it and when you share it has evoluted from being a simple choice to a decision based on statistical analyses of trending topics, peak times, and an audience waiting impatiently for all the updates. Whether it’s politics or even fashion, the digital world is exactly that.. A world by itself.

With every status update you post comes several decisions: changing one word to another, adding an emoji here, a few dots there. Just little tweeks to post something worth “liking”, commenting on and sharing… To eventually validate your presence online even for a mere hour.

It’s easy to gain followers, “likers” and subscribers if you put your mind to it. Heck, you can even get social media training now. The focus is so immense on the virtual world that we may forget reality from time to time. We tend to forget who is really there for us in our good times and bad, we forget that a single tap on the screen is far easier – and far less personal – that a phone call to congratulate you on your graduation. We forget that showing up for those we care about during illness, a bad day or just to hang out is worth a hundred viral posts.

I’m not against the virtual world. On the contrary, I’m absolutely fascinated by the emergence of fields like digital marketing and online training. It’s wonderful how connected the world has become, but we must make sure that these connections do not remain confined to the virtual world because at the end of the day, content is created – it’s not spontaneous. Although we do see some angry/happy/sentimental posts occasionally, they’re still not equal to your immediate reaction to something, or your facial expression, or the look in your eyes. 

Content will never represent you as a whole, because you share an end result of a process of editing and enhancing text, pictures and videos. It all is a little unreal. 

Who you really are, how you react, the things that make you happy, others that make you sad.. It’s all part of a complex equation that results in your unique identity. Don’t lose that following trends. Your true self is worth a lot more than a viral post.

Lessons Learned


Last Thursday marked my 22nd birthday, and like all days, I love having a reason to celebrate. Peculiarly, the question I received most on that day was: how does it feel like to be 22? I feel a lot of things: things that I share and most I don’t. This past year was exceptional because I worked on organizing a project during which I made new friends, gained tons of new knowledge, and most importantly, learned to stand up for what’s right. It really helped shape the 22-year-old girl I am today.

The following are lessons I’ll never forget from this experience:
People are never who they seem to be, but don’t let that change you.

The team we started off with was amazing. I truly worked with some of the most dedicated people out there. Having a team of 40+ medical students is as terrifying as it sounds, with crazy schedules and a work load to last you a lifetime, many had their doubts. I had full faith that we can achieve the impossible, but I didn’t expect to see these amazing people be okay with so many wrongdoings. I didn’t expect to be the only one in the crowd to want to call out on violations. I didn’t expect to have to fight a war all by myself. But that didn’t change me. I knew what was right, and what was wrong, and their silence wasn’t going to stop me from standing up for the organization we all committed to.

The man on top isn’t always the best.

Actually, a lot of the time he just dumps the workload on the rest of the team and comes back when it’s finally done. We worked late nights and woke up early the next morning. We missed breakfast, lunch or dinner for the sake of saving the day from an organizational crisis while others smoked in the lounge and slept way after noon. Having a great team made it easy to take them for granted.

People would kill for five minutes of fame.

I mean you would never miss a chance to go on TV.. without your superiors’ permission.. and to take the credit all to yourself? Right? Oh, and cancel the ones you’re not involved in while you’re at it.

Hypocrisy is everywhere.

People would advocate for a smoke-free environment during a session and then run to the nearest smoking lounge for that dose of nicotine. It is one thing to have the right to choose whether or not you smoke, but it is entirely another issue – and completely unethical – to advocate against something you truly believe in.

Love is blind.

It is also stupid, and causes you to sacrifice your reputation for the sake of pleasing your significant other. Gaining a handful of enemies, losing your entire credibility whatsoever and even self-respect.. But hey, your relationship is going well. Good for you!

Patience is not always a virtue.

This blog post is a result of a two month long wait. Waiting for rules to be implemented by those responsible, waiting for others to finally awaken their conscience, and rather foolishly, hoping to see results from those who have lost hope altogether.

Silence will bring the death of us.

Nothing makes me more angry and disappointed than seeing people with the power to move mountains yet deliberately choose to turn the other cheek when it comes to electing the wrong man in charge just for the sake of being relieved from duty. Our silence to all the injustice around us is what’s destroying our society. History has proven over and over again that fighting for a better world costs a lot less than what it offers in return on the long-run. From women’s rights to welfare of the disabled,  nothing was ever achieved by remaining quiet. It took people who stood up and fought for what’s right, and look at us now: women leading the world and many countries with real opportunities for the less fortunate.

Believe in yourself.

I think this was the most important lesson of all: knowing what you’re capable of. I know I can never see something as outrageous as what happened these past few months and sit quietly. I know I can always look someone in the eye and question their intentions for the sake of what’s right, even when out of an entire auditorium, only a handful spoke up!

 

4 Letters


The literacy rate in Jordan is 98%, which is beyond impressive for a developing country amidst a region of political and social instability. The number of people going to schools increases by day, and so does the number of people getting higher education. Education is an investment. People take loans, and do the impossible to send their children to schools and universities. This has become the norm. Continue reading

Three


After three years of books, lecture notes and over 100 exams, I finally get the chance to experience first hand what it is like to see a patient, listen to stories of illness and health, and inspect for disease. 

I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I also never expected it to be this rewarding. In everyday life, we encounter so much injustice and frustration that we forget the purity of humanity.

From a 75-year-old patient giving me advice on life because I am “just like his grandchildren”, to a 5-year-old boy threatening to remove his cannula if I don’t play with him, every person is an ocean of emotion, intelligence and immense education.

After three weeks of being a clinical student, I cannot be more honored to be part of a profession that cherishes a vital aspect of true human nature: the need for love and hope. This post is an encouragement for my younger colleagues to never give up, and to my older ones to always remember their first three weeks. Never lose this feeling of appreciation and fascination!

My Story


  
I still remember the first time I ever considered becoming a doctor. It was 8th grade science class. I tend to daydream from time to time & this was one of those days. I thought how much I enjoyed learning about the human body, how much I always would want to know what happens to us if we take this medication, why do we get sick, how is that surgery performed? My head piled up with questions and there was only one answer right there and then: I need to study medicine.

Around two years before graduation, I realized I had to think of my dream in a logical manner. Am I really cut out for this? 

I’ve always loved hospitals. To many, hospitals are a bad omen but I’ve always thought of them quite differently. Hospitals, to me, represented life in the simplest and most vivid of ways. What I saw most was an atmosphere of hope. Take a look around next time you’re at a hospital: families are huddled together praying, friends behaving with utmost love for one another, and an unmistakable sense of appreciation for life (not that I wish on anyone to be hospitalized).

Anyway, I joined Operation Smile -Jordan and started going on missions, met with medical students, and asked doctors. It’s always good to hear several viewpoints, especially when you’re about to make a commitment this big. My last two years of high school turned into a research project. It was just before graduation when I made my final decision: I want to be a doctor.