Even before medical school, I have always been enthusiastic of becoming a physician for the Filipinos. When I finally became one in 2013, I have since been very vocal to my friends and colleagues how a wonderful opportunity it is to serve the country.
I was never afraid and have fully enjoyed hospital duties, until now. With the rapidly increasing incidence and deaths of patients with COVID-19, chaotic experiences at grocery stores because of people hoarding essentials for home quarantine, doctor friends actually getting quarantined, admitted, and DYING, plus the shortage of PPEs (personal protective equipment), one cannot help but think “T**g i*a, what am I doing here?”
But in the midst of all my doubts, insecurities, and fear, I received this message from one of my previous interns:
Hi Sir! Pina-uwi po kami ng residents because of the APMC memo. But we volunteered to stay po to help out in the non-frontline areas. Hindi din daw siya maccredit ng APMC as training hours, but it’s okay. We’re here for the patients. Stay safe po!
After reading this, my mind froze. Tears started falling. And I found myself asking, “How did we even get here? Why are we feeling afraid? Why are we doubting ourselves?”
I took out a pen and paper, started reflecting, and realized that perhaps maybe we have forgotten.
So Dear Doctor, if you feel the same way, allow me to share these three reflection points as we face the very toxic days ahead of us.
Go back to the time when you wanted to be a doctor. Why did you want to be one?
We all have our own reasons but I believe that generally we went into medicine because we wanted to serve. Despite the rigors and difficulties of medical school and training, we still choose to persevere. Remember the times when you told yourself “Ayoko na. Pagod na pagod na ako.”? Yet you didn’t give up. You pushed through the times when you think were the most difficult moments of your life, and now you are here -still standing strong. Still a doctor. Still continuing to serve.
Why did you choose to stay in the country?
Some of us might have thought of training abroad, or even start a new life in more advanced countries -and that is totally okay because you continue to improve medicine in your own ways nonetheless and make us all proud.
But for most of us who chose to stay here, why? Whatever our reasons are, I think for the most part we choose to stay because we love this country. Despite all of its inadequacies, we find joy in living here and in finding ways to make the Philippines a better place for everyone.
The world is in a public health emergency. Your country needs you now more than ever. Are you backing up? Or are you joining the fight?
You already know the answer to this. Do you remember that time when you were already home but you couldn’t sleep well because you had a toxic patient admitted at the hospital? Do you remember that patient crying out to you “Doc, tulungan nyo po kami.” Now, the WHOLE COUNTRY is crying out to us for help. For sure, every physician, nurse, or paramedical staff all know how to respond.
So Dear Doctor, even if most establishments are closed, everyone is advised to stay home, and yet here we are on skeletal duty, DO NOT BE AFRAID. We’re all in this together. 10-15 years of medical training has prepared us for this moment.
We have been through a lot of tough and harsh times before; we will sail through. Remember: To serve your country is always an act of privilege, and not a sacrifice.
Sipag. Tiyaga. Pananampalataya. We got this.
*Pic by a good friend, Prim Paypon.
Shout out to all UP-PGH interns who volunteered to stay and continue to serve. Jose Rizal was indeed right when he said “Ang Kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan!”
To all consultants, residents, nurses, paramedical professionals, and my co-fellows, #OneGenMed starts tomorrow. No distinction of subspecialties. Everyone’s an internist -residents, fellows, and consultants. One division. One Gen Med. It is truly an honor to be serving the country with you guys!
Lastly, knocking your kind hearts for donations. Remember, these PPEs are what keeps your healthcare workers functioning and even alive. We need all the help we can get. Our sincerest gratitude to all.
From the UP-PGH. Department of Medicine:
In line with the increasing number of COVID cases and the potential hazards to our healthcare workers who serve as frontliners in the assessment and delivery of care, we are calling for donations to be able to procure Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) for those who will be taking care of these patients . The PPEs will serve as their protection to decrease the chance of them getting the COVID virus.
We believe that during this time of uncertainty, we should all unite with a common goal of serving our patients by also protecting our healthcare workers.
Please direct your contributions to the followIng accounts. Thank you very much and may God be with all of us.
SAGIP BUHAY MEDICAL FOUNDATION, INC.
Account Numbers (Metrobank UN Avenue Branch):
Peso #044-304466181-1 (SA)
Dollar #044-204401415-1 (SA)
Metrobank Swift Code: MBTCPHMM
Once deposited, email transaction slip to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please earmark it for COVID IM task force.