A Short Break

Since Vesak Day fell on last Friday, Indonesians are now in the end of a long weekend. It should’ve been a party, but unfortunately, I’m having two exams next week. First is the lab exam on Wednesday which covers Histology, Anatomical Pathology, and Clinical Pathology. Compared to previous modules, this should be a breeze. Yet, I have never experienced a real ‘breeze’ in med school; so there’s no letting my guard down. Second, there is the second summative test to evaluate students’ on various lectures. As usual, it covers the more clinical aspects.

Now you are probably thinking that I’m in a freaky studying frenzy.

You guessed wrong: I am on a short vacation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to visit my dad who has been working here for a month or so. Well, I do bring a bunch of school materials and have skimmed a couple of lectures. But still, this journey is quite thrilling since I have so many stuffs to catch up.

Time, please be on my side.

Anatomy Frenzy!

Because of unknown reasons, most people associate med school with caressing countless cadavers in creepy labs. It might as well be the first, and sometimes the only, question people throw to a med student to find out his/her progress. They don’t care if you performed the coolest, most complicated physiology experiment; they just need to know if you had poked your way into some (dead) stranger’s stomach.

From a med student’s view, it is indeed a challenging topic, especially in the musculoskeletal, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. The former two I had passed in the 2nd and 3rd semester, respectively. This module will be the last of the deadly trio, and exam is coming this Wednesday.

What I need to identify in the exam includes the following:

  • External structures of the heart
  • The four heart chambers and their internal structures
  • The big arteries and veins that go to/from the heart
  • Arteries and veins in the upper and lower extremities (!)

And to give you the right impression of this exam’s urgency, I’ll end this post abruptly to study, hopefully.

This Week in Med School

To my delight, the first exam in the cardiovascular module was not that horrible. Most of the questions are straightforward and there was no need to overanalyze stuffs. Even better, the bane of preclinical students, anatomical pathology, did not trample us with fancy-schmancy morphology; in fact, there were specific hints in all of the questions. Identifying the diseases was more like identifying Paris by looking at the Eiffel Tower. There were a few hurdles, especially in cardiac physiology, but overall, the exam was manageable. Now I can get back to life – for a while before anatomy ‘fever’ sets in.


Last Saturday, I attended a minor surgery and circumcision training. This is my first time going to such event and as expected, I was very excited. Well, my mom was enthusiastic too; somehow, the thought of me tinkering with some kid's penis is entertaining to her.


In the minor surgery session, I was taught to do 3 types of basic sutures. I won’t get technical in this post, but you can look them up here, here, and here. We trained to suture sponges, but we used real surgical tools. And that’s when I realized that suturing involves pushing a needle through a person’s skin over and over again. If it wasn’t so cool and necessary, it would have simply been barbaric. Looking at my stitched sponge, the trainers said I did quite a good job, but maybe that’s a code for “thank you for not slicing us”.


The circumcision session was eye opening. Who knew you can learn to do circumcision by doing it to a candle penis wrapped in two layers of elastic gloves? In the beginning, it was somewhat awkward for me. The trainer, who happened to be a girl, explained the basic anatomy of a penis to a group of penis-owners. To my relief, there was no new information on penis anatomy. Then we proceeded to the circumcision itself. It was a little hard (no pun intended), but the trainer assured us that real genitals are not that stiff (except during certain times, of course). In the end of the training, I got my first minor surgery certificate. I won’t be cutting anyone open anytime soon, but there was that unmistakable sense of achievement.


Today, the president of RI visited my campus as a part of Alumni Awakening Day. The background story would be very long so here’s the summary: FKUI was founded by the Dutch and its students was instrumental in the national awakening movement which ultimately led to Indonesia’s independence. My favourite part of the story is how Abdulrachman Saleh spread the news of RI’s independence using a simple radio in my school’s physiology lab. In the nascent republic, doctors from FKUI served various position within and outside of the government. It is of utmost importance that the current FKUI embrace its noble past and emulate that fighting spirit to build an even better FKUI and Indonesia.

First Exam!

Life has been too sweet for the last several weeks, but it will all change now. This Wednesday, I will be having my first exam in this cardiovascular module. It will be an MCQ test with 80-ish questions. Topics covered in this exam come from basic science deoartments, including the following:

  • Cardiac and vascular anatomy
  • Cardiac and vascular histology
  • Metabolism of cardiac muscle
  • Cardiovascular physiology
  • Anatomical pathology: cardiac and vascular
  • Clinical pathology: atherosclerosis, rheumatic heart disease
  • Epidemiology of cardiovascular problems

Compared to exams in previous modules, this one includes fewer lectures. However, this is the cardiovascular module, so let’s not take anything for granted.

Just One Day

The physiology lab time for EKG went smoothly, producing 2 normal 12-lead recordings. Now that I have actually done it myself and analyzed the result to find out if it is normal or not, EKG is not so scary. Surely the spikes are still daunting - and I haven’t even dipped my toes into pathologic EKGs.


There is something far more important than EKG: a one-day holiday is just around the corner. Ascension of Jesus Christ is a national holiday in Indonesia, and this year it falls on May 13. I am really fond of these mid-module holidays since they put a stop on the overflow of information from lectures, lab times, and group discussions.


On ordinary days I have to cope with ridiculous amount of materials. Due to time constraints, virtually no one can absorb that kind of load each day so we med students have to prioritize. Anatomy: urgent; radiology: clueless. Coloquially, we say “X out of Y slides” with X the number of lecture slides digested and Y the number of all slides for the next exam. The ‘out of Y’ part is frequently omitted because we don’t even have the energy to care.


That’s were holidays come in. On holidays we obviously get no new materials; thus the brain-demand is not increased. Additionally, we also have more time to study, which increases the brain-supply. If a module is a race between a hare (lecturers) and a turtle (us), holiday is the part where the hare sleeps and the turtle continues fighting forward. The expected postholiday result is, of course, a better-prepared student.


But that only happens in the world where Indonesia have competent leaders and my mom is the Queen of Narnia. Holiday is a day to oversleep, overeat, and overstupidify. This is the time to be human again and live life like we are meant to. Well, if it’s any consolation, the academic pace also picks up a bit; but you can already guess the overall result. Hey, it’s not my fault Pondok Indah Mall is ultra-tempting.

That Spiky Thing

EKG. The sheer awesomeness of the word blows me away.



In the cardiovascular module (that’s the module I’m studying right now), students are taught all about EKG: the underlying physiology, the correct technique to record EKG, and the interpretation of an EKG recording. However, what looks so cool and easy on TV can be somewhat frustrating in real life.


Tomorrow, I am scheduled for a physiology lab time. EKG party time! It would be great if we could just walk in, plop some electrodes, fire away the 12 leads, and go home. But no, life is beautiful and sadistic like a dominatrix; there is a pretest for few fortunate students and also a compulsory group discussion after the lab time.


If you are sad, depressed, or anxious about anything…you should feel better already. You don’t have to care, let alone learn, about some cryptic grass-like code.

A Bit of Background

I have just realized that this blog, born in the middle of my 4th semester in med school, will be unclear without a background story. It would be like popping in the cinema in the middle of Iron Man 2: fun but confusing. (Although the dancing Ironettes in the beginning will give no help in getting you oriented anyway).


I have stated in my first post that I live in the Big Durian, Jakarta. I was born and raised here. As I grow up, I started to understand the chaos that runs the city. The maddening traffic, lack of open green spaces, oversupply of posh malls, and the thug-like hospitality of its citizens. I happily fooled myself into thinking that it will help develop stronger, more resilient men and women.


I am the first son with one younger brother who looks like a cuter version of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine - or a hybrid of Hanuman and Doraemon, whichever appeals to your imagination. In contrast to what people think, my parents are not doctors. My dad works in a South East Asian bank, while my mom is a proud full-time mother. On the other hand, my maternal grandparents are doctors. Pediatricians, to be precise. They studied in the same university, in the same year, and both have worked in the same field: pediatric respirology.


My educational background is not so eclectic. From kindergarten through high school, I went to Al-Azhar 1. I could add that it is the one near the Great Mosque of Al-Azhar in Kebayoran, yet I don’t know how many of you would actually benefit from that info. It is an Islamic school, but generally works like a normal school with a few extra ‘Islamic’ rules. If you are asking right now: no, boys and girls are not separated; yes, we are allowed to act like the average teenagers; no, there is no such thing as an Underwear Bomb 101 class.


My journey to med school is a mix of daring and blessing. My test scores during the 3 years of high school afforded me a chance for direct application without any entrance test. I used that chance and daringly did not prepare a Plan B. Fortunately, I got one of the nineteen ‘no-test’ seats offered by the medical faculty.


Since then, life has been kind enough to surprise me everyday.

Come Join the Ride

Hi everyone. I’m not that good with introductions but society dictates that we always introduce ourselves before starting anything, however irrelevant or forgettable that intro will be.

My name is Adit and I am currently another victim of life in Jakarta, Indonesia. If I let my hair grow, it becomes crazy-curly like in the profile picture. In the young age of 17 years, I landed myself in medical school: a move in the right direction according to my plans.

However, it has become more than a good move.

I am currently in my second year. Still in the preclinical stage, so those looking for batshit crazy patient stories would do right to visit other blogs by not-so-sane doctors who made us pray that we never get sick. Despite that, med school has taught me many stuffs other than why you want to poo right after a meal or what happens if you rectal-touched a baby with Hirschsprung disease. I relearned how to socialize, made new friends, and juggled tons of activities. Additionally, I have ridden on the proverbial rollercoaster of life that would make national politics look like a serene yoga session.

Welcome to (the hole on the fence that lets you take a peek at) my life.

Adhitya S Ramadianto

Class of 2008