In the third grade, my teacher asked the class to make a list of ten things we wanted to be when we grew up. Becoming a doctor was #3 on that list, right behind playing in the World Cup (#1) and playing in the Super Bowl (#2). The rest of the list I can’t remember anymore, but the important thing is this: wanting to become a doctor was an actual childhood dream of mine. And it’s about to become a reality, officially, tomorrow.
It sounds meager, maybe even a little sad. 1/10. Just 10% of my most ardent aspirations as a kid have come true. But it’s the sweetest 90% disappointment I’ve ever tasted.
Tomorrow is going to be a good day.
First pedia patient
i am going to have my first official patient in pediatrics today at the SCC (sick child clinic) of the philippine general hospital out-patient department. i can’t wait. pedia has been soooooo much more exciting and less intoxicating as compared to our previous OB rotation. thank God i am now able to breathe once again. :)
i will bring my gigantic textbook in pediatrics so that i will be guided during our preceptorials.
pedia is <3.
Scrubs: The Reality
When you start med school they warn you that you’re gonna have to make sacrifices…I guess that means different things to different people…Like giving up something you really want now for something you’ve wanted your whole life…Or spending less time on yourself so you can spend time with someone you really love. At some point, you might even have to give up your own sense of safety and well-being…But after a while, it doesn’t feel like you’re giving up anything at all.
-JD, Scrubs Season 1
It’s been nearly 10 years since I watched my first episode of Scrubs. Back then, I was a college sophomore, studying the basic sciences and wondering just how much of what I was learning would actually be useful if/when I were to become a doctor. Scrubs was just a parody of a distant life (in a galaxy far far away). It was entertaining an all, but it was just that: entertainment. I just recently started watching episodes again on the occasional post-duty day and have run into an interesting revelation: Scrubs, the second time around, is a completely different show.
Med Clerkship (4th year) so far has been a blur. They say “time flies when you’re having fun.” In my experience, when your life shifts 24 (and sometimes 36) hours at a time, time “flies” even faster. Despite the hectic schedule, I’ve found myself making time to watch Scrubs again because if it’s uncanny resemblance to my experiences so far at PGH (I won’t go into detail in this post but just know, the resemblance is “uncanny”).
…giving up something you really want now for something you’ve wanted your whole life..
Although Scrubs is quite prolific when it comes to “quotable quotes,” I found that this quote (above) particularly sums of much of my med school experience. The idea of giving up something you want now for something you’ve wanted your whole life is a concept I’ve struggled with most of my life. Med school has magnified this difficulty. Since high school, I’ve always had several extracurricular activities. Having multiple extracurriculars was encouraged in high school (to get into college). It was encouraged in college (to get into med school). And now it’s encouraged in med school (to keep yourself from going insane). The problem is, theres not enough time for ANYTHING in med school. No time to study, no time for exercise, no time to eat right, no time to do rounds, and of course, no time to sleep. “No time”, is of course hyperbole, but it’s accurately portrays the sensation. With such little time to distribute among so many activities, naturally some will be neglected more than others, which brings me to the second part of the quote.
…spending less time on yourself so you can spend time with someone you really love…
It is ridiculously hard to stay in shape in med school. My weight has fluctuated so regularly between 150 and 170lbs that if my weight were plotted as fetal heart rate in intrapartum monitoring, I’d be a Category III: sinusoidal pattern (Can you tell I just finished my rotation in OB/Gyne?). At least in undergrad, my gym was 24hrs. Here, 6am-10pm just doesn’t do much when my shifts are 7am-7am(next day). Postduty days are usually spent catching up on work missed or sleeping from sheer exhaustion (or watching Scrubs). When the choice comes up between staying in shape, and spending time with my love (Hi Lyz! :) ), there’s no contest.
At some point, you might even have to give up your own sense of safety and well-being.
Regarding the part in the quote about giving up safety and well-being, there’s an episode in Scrubs, when JD has severe abdominal pain and ends up being admitted in his own hospital as a patient. I had nearly the same experience 2 weeks ago when I was admitted in my own hospital for…abdominal pain. Although it turned out to be just NSAID gastritis (and Acute Tubular Necrosis) not Appendicitis, I still was able to see my hospital for the first time through a patient’s eyes for a week (it’s not pretty). I’d like to think it’s improved my bedside manner with my patients.
…but after awhile it doesn’t feel like you’re giving up anything at all.
Despite the sacrifices, the late nights, the IVs, the mistakes, and the unappreciated effort. It’s all been worth it (and hopefully even more so when it’s all over).
- I’m now fairly confident in my procedures.
- I’m in a healthy relationship (Hi again, Lyzzie!).
- I’m now relatively fluent in tagalog (from a baseline of zero).
- I’ve made dozens of new friends (Hi 2012, 16i people, Block 2, “Team Squishy”, Brods & Sisses!)
- I’ve managed to learn and use four graphics programs: AE, C4D, PS, and Maya (from scratch).
- I’ve joined a Medical Fraternity (Mu Sigma Phi) and am now part of a network of fellow doctors (including my parents).
- I’m a member of our UP Med Basketball team that’s won 2 championships.
- Last month, I received my first “professional fees” from patients: a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts from my Pedia ER cardio patient, and Greenwhich pizza from my Pedia Neuro ward patient (names not revealed for HIPAA reasons :) ).
- Last but not least, I’m happy. (I do miss my family and friends in TX quite often, but thank God for Gmail, Skype, Magic Jack, and Facebook. BOO, however, to Hulu & Netflix for not streaming internationally)
It will be a dream: University of the Philippines College of Medicine
And because I’m bored (for the first time!), I decided to search for the requirements for the admission of UPCM.
- Minimum of 90% in the NMAT.
- Minimum GWA is 1.67.
And now, my hopes & dreams of being admitted in the best med school in the Philippines had fallen apart. Yah I know it sound so negative but I’m just preparing myself of what I might encounter in the near future. They said that no Latin honors are required but for me, of course if you have that laude when you graduated from your undergrad course, you would have more chance in UPCM. And the GWA, my golly, first year pa nga lang ako, nahihirapan na ako, what more pag nasa higher years na ako. Of course the best med school accepts only the best students. Hays, I’ll just do my best and let’s see where will it take me.
New UP policy aims to stop brain drain of young doctors
by JM TUAZON, GMA News 06/15/2011
Teddy Maranan, 21, is an incoming freshman B.S. Medicine student at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila.
Having graduated with a B.S. Psychology degree from UP Diliman, Teddy said he chose to study at the state-run institution because the Philippine General Hospital, considered the university’s leading teaching hospital, has a patient pool that is “unmatched” in the country.
After graduating and becoming a full-fledged doctor, however, Teddy will be required to stay and work in the country, in light of a recent policy—called the Return Service Program (RSP) —implemented by the university.
The RSP, introduced in several colleges in UP Manila this school year, is a measure aimed at addressing the growing problem of “brain drain,” which has plagued the country’s different sectors, particularly the healthcare industry, in the past years.
Data from the UP College of Medicine showed that more than 80 percent of their graduates eventually leave the country to practice medicine overseas, and the number has been increasing in the past 10 years.
In an interview with GMA News’ “Unang Balita,” Alberto Roxas, Dean of UP Manila’s College of Medicine, said graduates of the Medicine program will be required to serve the country for three years after graduation, while other colleges will require at least two years of service to the country.
According to a document posted on the UP Manila website describing the program, the colleges that are covered for the first years of implementation include the College of Allied Medical Profession (CAMP); College of Dentistry; College of Medicine; College of Nursing; College of Pharmacy; College of Public Health; and School of Health Sciences.
“[This program] is voluntary, but it is an absolute requirement for admission,” Roxas clarified. “Ibig sabihin, kung ayaw mo [pumirma ng contract], eh ‘di huwag kang pumasok sa UP.”
Roxas said the government subsidizes approximately 80 percent of medical education in the College of Medicine, so it is but fitting that the students pay this subsidy back through service to the country.
Iskolar ng Bayan
To every UP graduate, the act of “giving back” to the country after graduation is no foreign concept, as it is immortalized in what UP students have come to be known for: “Iskolar ng Bayan,” or scholars of the people.
This is a concept not lost on Maranan, who said he thinks the new policy is “fair” and that it only makes sense.
“It’s like the government is making an investment in our education, and having a policy like that only ensures that their investment pays off,” Maranan told GMA News Online.
He said he was not discouraged by the policy in continuing his UP education, since he had no plans of leaving the country for employment, anyway.
“Two or three years [are not] so bad. I have my whole life of being a doctor ahead of me,” Maranan pointed out.
This call to serve the Filipino people is a point often raised by veteran economist and UP School of Economics Professor Solita “Winnie” Monsod, whose video footage of a “last lecture” delivered at the end of one of her classes drew widespread attention online.
“If you are going to help this country, you’ve got to be in the country,” Monsod ardently stressed. “If any of you have little ambitions of going abroad so that you can earn more, please disabuse yourself, because by doing that you are essentially betraying the people in the Philippines who trusted you and who invested their money in you.”
Many Filipino Internet users shared Monsod’s view, saying it is only right for UP students to give back to the taxpayers who funded their college education.
Facebook user Mark Villanueva said, “The taxes we’ve been paying are the money that is being utilized for them to get quality education! They should have a sense of debt of gratitude to our nation by serving it for a short time, and afterwards, they can go wherever they like to!”
Ray Soberano, on the other hand, wanted a lengthier rule. “Why two yearslang?” he asked. “It should be more, I think. Say 4 to 5?”
This was an opinion shared by Luzviminda Sabater Manalo, who said: “Mas mainam po siguro kung lifetime. UP students, we all know that they are intelligent. UP [graduates] must use and/or practice [their] skills here in the Philippines. Pilipinas po dapat ang makinabang sa kanilang angking talento.”
Franz dela Fuente, on the other hand, welcomed the move, saying it could inspire UP students to give more to the country. “It’s pretty obvious that UP students ought to give back to the Filipino taxpayers, but this hasn’t been happening. A clear, admin-initiated rule ought to do the trick.”
Not many, however, were impressed by UP Manila’s new directive, for obvious inconsistencies with the essence of the policy.
“Serve in the country, sa dami ng jobless and low employment rate eh paano kung wala silang mahanap na job?” asked Mikhail Angeles Ortiz.
Paul Jimenez, meanwhile, questioned the need to dictate to students their career choices. “Well, sa una tama! Pero on the other side of the coin, parang mali naman yata na diktahan ang isang tao sa kanyang kagustuhan. Let their freedom ‘democratize’ the way na parehong walang masasaktan,” he said.
Maggie Gallardo-Ninobla, on the other hand, felt the need to point out the obvious: “The intention is very noble and timely, I totally agree. But the word ‘required’? Hmmm… hindi ba dapat inculcated na sa kanila yung values to serve the country? Parang ‘coerced’ ka, sana hindi naman,” she said.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, meanwhile, echoed Ninobla’s point. In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Palatino said serving the country should be a voluntary effort by the student.
“If they are required to stay in the country for two years, pero yung commitmentnila ay wala doon, defeated din yung purpose to maximize their skills for the community,” he pointed out.
He said the challenge for UP, instead of implementing a mandatory policy, is to inculcate in the students’ mindsets the need to serve the country.
“Delicate itong situation na ito in a sense, because we have to balance the right of people to travel, and at the same time we have to address the brain drain,” he said.
Palatino likewise pointed out the obvious inconsistencies with the policy’s intentions against the national government’s labor policies.
“The irony here is that UP is a state agency requiring students to stay in the country, but it is the national government that is continuing to implement a labor export policy,” he said.
Palatino said a better, long-term approach would be to re-orient the students as early as elementary and high school about the need to serve the country.
“Isipin mo ‘yung magiging impact ng ganong waiver sa estudyante. Iisipin nila, ‘So I served my country for two years, tapos na ‘ko.’ Shortcut, eh. It’s a desperate measure,” he stressed.
“Young people are leaving not because they are unpatriotic, but because we don’t have opportunities here,” he added.
Local job market
UP’s Roxas said the challenge for the program right now is finding appropriate employment for the first few batches who would be graduating in the next three years.
“Ang challenge dito, by 2016, three classes na ‘yun ng College of Medicine ang nasa Pilipinas, 480 medical graduates who are staying in the Philippines to serve the country,” he said.
The College of Medicine dean said they are coordinating with the Department of Health to absorb the graduates into programs in government hospitals, local government units and the Doctors to the Barrios program.
“Talagang sa pamamagitan nito, pwedeng ma-mitigate natin ‘yung impact ng brain drain. Isipin mo ‘yan, sila ang mapupunta sa mga munisipyo na walang doktor dati,” he pointed out.
The Department of Labor of Employment (DOLE), however, is a bit skeptical about the new policy, saying it could contribute to underemployment in the country.
In another phone interview with GMA News Online, an official of DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment who refused to be identified, said the sufficiency of job opportunities in the country is not a problem.
“The issue in the market today is the job-skills mismatch. May mga trabaho pero hindi nakaakma doon sa tinapos ng estudyante,” the DOLE official said.
In terms of healthcare professionals who will be graduating under the program, he said the graduates may be absorbed by upcoming industries such as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.
“In healthcare, nagkakaroon na ng market sa BPO. Merong mga medical transcriptionists, or those who provide medical advise through the phone,” he noted.
In a recent forum at the UP College of Medicine, a “balikbayan” doctoradmonished Monsod for her remarks against those who chose to leave the country and work abroad, and underscored the importance of collaborating with other nations, especially in the field of medicine.
In his speech, Dr. Ponciano Cruz Jr. said “East-West collaborations” in the field of medicine should be explored, and the knowledge and experience of Filipino doctors overseas must be “embraced and utilized” to optimize the medical training being done in the Philippines.
Cruz cited the case of world-renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao and singer Charice Pempengco, whose skills, Cruz said, were enhanced by Americans.
“It shows the fusion and synergy of the US and the Philippines. If this collaboration is possible for entertainment, why not for medicine?” Cruz asked.—with Candice Montenegro/KBK/HS, GMA News