Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How I Accidentally Became A Pediatrician

Like most of the newly licensed male doctors, back then I really wanted to become a top notch surgeon. After medical school and post graduate internship, I fell in love with surgery and was hell bent on undergoing surgical training. Call it a chauvinistic idea but fact is female doctors tend to shy away from this discipline which is dominated by men. They say surgery is where the "action" is. It is a branch of medicine in which you use your skillful hands and thinking brain at the same time. It is a unique specialty in which one become "the captain of the ship." During those days that is where I want to belong, to be a member of that elite group of doctors giving cure to the ill by using a scalpel.

After passing the physician licensure examination, I immediately went into moonlighting as an in-house resident physician in two secondary hospitals in Malolos, my hometown, 40 kms north of Manila. But my moonlighting stint did not last long because my hunger for knowledge and training was so great that I became disappointed with some of the "old" and "reputable" physicians in our place, they couldn't supply me with answers to all my queries. I just couldn't imagine those supposed to be "well known" doctors laid their stethoscopes on me when I was a kid. What they are practising and preaching to their patients were very different from what I have learned during my med school and internship at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.

So after some vacuous period, I decided to move on and look for surgical residency training in Manila. Back then, it was very hard to enter one. Applicants are literally falling in line. Positions available were few not to mention that the "palakasan" system was also taking place. I applied in every tertiary hospitals in Metro Manila, took every entrance examinations they gave and to some extent I was called for interviews. I remember one hospital, named after the Blessed Virgin Mother, in Sta. Mesa, Manila area where I ranked #3 amongst the 50 or more applicants who took the written entrance examination. The top 10 applicants were interviewed and I was interviewed last. I was there as early as 7 in the morning and my interview was scheduled half past 12 noon. Actually I was not interviewed, I was only ridiculed, taunted and mocked by a panel of balding surgeons headed by that sinister and dreaded bald man, who was a former dean of the college of medicine of UERM. That was the greatest humiliation I ever experienced and obviously I was not accepted there. I was discriminated because I graduated from a medical school who, at that time was under hot waters because of allegations of cheating in the board exams. (I was included in the batch of graduates who took the board exams AFTER the scandal... so imagine the scrutiny we got during that time.)

Those bad experiences didn't stopped me from continuing to look for a surgical residency training. Until one morning I saw an ad from a newspaper that Mary Chiles General Hospital in Gastambide, Manila was in need of surgical residents. I ended up applying there. The Department of Surgery of Mary Chiles was very promising back then. They were in the process of accreditation by the Philippine College of Surgeons (PCS). Dr. Ray Malilay, a well known surgeon from the Santo Tomas University Hospital, was the chair of the department. It was under his guidance and the other surgical consultant staffs' teachings that I honed my surgical skills and know hows. But the promise of accreditation from the PCS didn't materialized so I decided to quit the training and look for another which is accredited by the PCS.

Months passed by, I was not lucky to find one. So while waiting for the right opportunity, I decided to apply as a surgical resident in our provincial hospital. Again frustrations set in. I was very disappointed on how the surgeons in our province manage our patients. Cases of obvious acute appendicitis being admitted but not operated on, instead just given antibiotics, a case of a penetrating abdominal wound admitted but not operated on, instead just being observed. These are but some of the many bizarre practises I saw there. I, being the most junior resident, do nothing but conduct patients from our provincial hospital to the government hospitals in Manila and mind you without proper coordination. You could just imagine how mad the surgical residents in those government hospitals are everytime we transfer patients to their ER's. So frustrated that I quitted the job after less than a month of stay there.

Months passed by and pressure from my then fiance, for me to look for a residency training, was mounting up. Then an unexpected call from Dr. Rhine Gozum, my buddy in med school, came. He said they were in dire need of a pediatric resident in Delos Santos Medical Center because a pre-resident quitted. So I applied half heartedly for the position and because they had no choice then, they accepted me as a pre- resident of the pediatric department. I gave my word to Dr. Fererria, our chairman, that I will not leave the Department of Pediatrics even if I was offered a surgical residency training from any accredited hospital I applied for. I guess I just kept my promise and without me knowing, I was able to satisfactorily finish the whole pediatric residency program.

I know deep in my heart that pediatrics is not suitable for me. Pediatrics being dominated by girls and gays! But I just have to accept my destiny. As time passed by I began to like what I am doing, although not using a scalpel, I still was able to serve and give cure to sick and the needy.

This is my story...


Blogger VegasFilAmGuy said...

Yikes, I visit the Phil several tiimes for several months. I am always so afraid of getting sick or getting an injury there.

4:10 PM  
Blogger ReNba OdEnRoH said...

Generally filipino doctors are good doctors. I am just talking of the 2% of the medical population here. :-)

6:28 PM  
Blogger VegasFilAmGuy said...

I believe that the Philippines have great medical resources, doctors and nurses, especially. They are just not utilized fully. So sad that we have so many underpaid skilled workers.

9:36 AM  

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