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Author Topic: Doctor to the Barrio  (Read 7533 times)

TOPAC

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Doctor to the Barrio
« on: December 16, 2008, 05:28:31 PM »
Going rural


By Jacqueline Majella R. Uy, MD
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:44:00 12/02/2008
Filed Under: Healthcare Providers, Human Interest


I was an undergraduate scouring Recto Avenue for used books when I came upon a tattered, thin book written by Dr. Juan Flavier. It was about his “Doctors to the Barrios” program, about young doctors being sent out to the rural areas. It was all the push I needed to decide to become a doctor of medicine. I was inspired and I thought that going to the barrios was a great way to give service where I was needed.

During five years of medical school, I got my fair share of grueling exams, hospital grime, sleepless nights, overcrowded emergency rooms, 24- to 36-hour duties, summary rounds, community immersions. It was a good educational experience and also a lot of fun. Despite everything, being a doctor is still a fulfilling vocation.

In medical school, I also realized that there are many opportunities open for a doctor. The temptation to go abroad is very strong; more than half the members of our class are going abroad. Specialization, up-to-date medical technology, research, and big salaries await those who go outside the country.

Almost everyone goes through this train of thought, and I was sorely tempted. I had a US visa, and my parents had always dreamed of me going abroad and they were willing to spend for it. But what about this idealistic voice in my head, the push that made me decide to go into Medicine in the first place?

It is always best to follow our dreams, because if we do not, then we might regret it. I did not want to live a life full of regrets, so I decided to stay on the path less taken. I submitted my application for the Doctors to the Barrios program. It was a crucial step for me and I heaved a huge sigh of relief as I handed over my application to the Department of Health’s Human Health Resource Development Bureau Office. All I needed to do was to wait for the call.

But call, they did not. It was one of the worst disappointments of my life. I could not believe it was happening. I thought the Philippines needed doctors to stay and serve.

I found out later that they had lost my application. But when I look back and think about it I am left wondering if submitting it was a mere figment of my imagination. I did not get a copy stamped “Received” but I’m sure the logbook in their office would show that I was there. Did I lack follow-up? But I did go to the provincial office of the DOH to follow up my application and submit some additional requirements. Still, it happened. I have to live with the inefficiencies of our government offices.

With my father’s help, I got a job as acting municipal health officer (MHO) in a small town. Basically, this is what a doctor to the barrio does; he or she is the rural health physician in a municipality.

My starting salary was P15,000 a month. I found out later that this was much lower than the standard pay of a municipal doctor. This has made me realize, that for the government health care has a low priority. No wonder many health workers opt to go abroad.

My stint as an MHO has taught me many things and brought many changes to my life. Every morning, I wake up at 5 so I can take the bus that leaves at 7. It is an hour-long drive to the town where I work and I have to ride a non-air-conditioned bus that passes through some unpaved and bumpy roads. I get to the clinic at 8 and see patients the whole day. Market days are busy days and I see between 50 and 100 patients then. These are usually simple cases, but many times I have wanted to do some diagnostic exams or treatments but couldn’t because of the lack of resources.

Sometimes, I get medico-legal cases—mostly rape or mauling. I have signed many death certificates for persons I had not even attended to.

Sometimes, we go to the villages to give lectures or immunizations. I have to deal with staff members who are older than I am and who have been working in the rural health unit for a long time. Fortunately, the people I have encountered are very accommodating and welcoming.

I am still learning to adjust, to deal with my issues, to know when to speak out for what is right, to be conscious of the hierarchy in government offices, to live without my peers, and to make do with what is available.

My bus trips are usually times to ponder over so many things. On my way home one day, the bus was full. As I stood there, holding on to the handrails and watching people still forcing themselves into the overcrowded bus, I kept hoping we would not have an accident. “What the heck am I doing here?” I asked myself.

Some of my friends and relatives are laughing at me for choosing this job. They say I should seek greener pastures, go somewhere for my advancement. And sometimes I am tempted to follow their advice.

Every day I have to remind myself of my purpose in life: service. Repeating this like a mantra helps me cope with my issues and focus on my goal. It gives me great joy to know that I am somehow doing something to make the lives of my fellow Filipinos better. I believe in destiny. I believe God has a great plan for my life and that He has put in me this stubborn desire to serve in the countryside for a reason. I am sure I will end up a better person after this experience.

Jacqueline Majella R. Uy, MD, 25, graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 2008. She is the acting municipal health officer of Catigbian, Bohol.


Linkback: http://tubagbohol.mikeligalig.com/index.php?topic=16762.0
:-)


hofelina

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2008, 06:42:08 PM »
This is a very touching article.   There are German doctors who spends 4-6 weeks of medical missions in some rural areas in third world countries.  There is a British surgeon who spends 3 months in Africa, working on club-footed kids.  He brings some donations and his skills to help them walk like any normal kids. Bless them, bless them.
Hinaut pa nga makalahutay si Dra Jack Uy


bol-anon nga cebuano

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2008, 11:24:17 PM »
kamaayo pangasaw-on aning doktora uy. buotan na, kugihan pa jud.

last time nga akong nahibaw-an nga usa ka doktora nga akong amiga in which pareha ug principle ni doktora oi kadtong naa sa sikatuna. wherein she started from a humble beginning being a midwife serving the rural areas in balilihan and sikatuna. later she realized that she wanted to serve them more so she decided to take up medicine and years passes by, she eventually became a doctor. but since balilihan already have a resident MHO, she was taken by sikatuna where she eventually became a household name and settled there for good. she is now married to the son of the mayor of sikatuna who happens to be a distant relative of mind.

kudos to these new breed of heroes.
"The difference between a smart person and a wise person is that a smart person knows what to say and a wise person knows whether or not to say it."

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bolingitboy

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2008, 05:31:52 AM »
being a young and idealistic individual, i hope this doctor's idealism doesn't get muddied along the way. there are so many doctors who started out with medical school filled with deep idealism of going to the barrios and serving the poor and underprivileged but this idealism gets lost most of the time as reality begins to set in that doctors- and other medical professionals are grossly underpaid compared to their counterparts who work the same jobs in out-of-country locations. my wife is a doctor who is currently serving as a municipal health officer in a poor, rebel-infested town in davao del sur. this job is something that she acquired by choice. all her classmates are either already working abroad as nurses or are waiting for work placements as nurses abroad. joining the bandwagon, my wife has entered nursing school this year and will graduate after another year. needless to say, you know where this is going to lead to, and what it manifests. more often than not, idealism eventually gets eroded over the years especially with growing opportunities - and choices of working where remuneration is much better... it is kind of hard to imagine tht the health department would treat an application of a doctor-for-the-barrio application as lightly as what happened to our friend in bohol. if they lost her application, they could have offered to process it or something so that at least one of the many unmanned rural clinics will have a resident doctor. as it is, rural folks continue to be deprived of medical attention for the simple reason of lack in doctors. i think one of the reasons why there is a shortage of doctors in rural areas is the ineptness of our health department. if there's shortage of filipino doctors because they go to the U.S as nurses, they can hire other asian doctors who are willing to work in our barrios. there was a report in 2006 or thereabouts that there has been around 500 applications from indian doctors who indicated their desire to work in philippine barrios. and these indian doctors are not all that bad given that while the U.S. prefers to hire filipino nurses, americans also prefer to hire indian doctors. as far as i know, until now, our health department has not been able to act on these applications by foreign doctors, or adopted any measure or action that would provide doctors in our barrios. mga inutil gyud.


grazie7y

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2008, 07:19:12 AM »
Good job, Dr. Majella Uy.  I am proud of you!

I, myself was a big fan of Dr. Juan Flavier, a diminutive and funny doctor who later became a senator.  I read his articles at the national newspaper  (was it Phil. Star or PDI?) about the Barrio Doctor.  I even bought one of his books.  Just recently, I read another book written by one who claimed to be a true blooded Bol-anon Doctor who is based in Davao.  He is Dr. Ting Tiongco.  I enjoy reading his book very much!  It makes me realize how much sacrifice they (including their families) put it to become a doctor.  Basta guys, if you have a chance, please get his book:  Surgeons Do Not Cry. 
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
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TOPAC

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2008, 09:00:11 AM »
is this the same doctor from bohol who topped (number guid) the physician's licensure examination in 2007?


TOPAC

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2008, 09:03:24 AM »
she passed the licensure examination in 2008. basin dili to sya ang boholana nga nag number 1. Uy man gud pud to. (apo ni alfonso uy of FCB fame)


bol-anon nga cebuano

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2008, 11:32:08 PM »
The boholana who topped the 2008 Physicians' Licensure Examination was Edilfavia Mae Suaybaguio Uy. She's 26 years old who hails from Tagbilaran City and a product of Cebu Doctor's University. She's planning to specialize internal medicine and undergo residency training in the US but she will come back here in RP to serve her countrymen.

Uy graduated valedictorian in both elementary and high school at Bohol Wisdom School before she took BS Psychology as her pre-med course at CDU where she graduated magna cum laude last 2001. She then proceeded to medicine at the same university and graduated as cum laude with 18 honors last April 2006.

She's the eldest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Edilfonso Uy.


apothecary

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2009, 02:13:45 PM »
Doctor to the Barrios!

You bet. Lets DOH it!
"If you can't convince them, confuse them."

Lorenzo

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2009, 02:29:53 PM »
An inspirational article and Message.

Interesting,

:)

Lorenzo

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Re: Doctor to the Barrio
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2009, 02:34:20 PM »

Here in the United States, there are medical students who enroll in the 'Rural Program', where the federal government will pay for medical studies and all other expenses, so long as the student repays the government by serving in a rural, underdeveloped community for a substantial length of time (4-6 years).

I am wondering if the Philippines has something similar to such.

The life choices of Dr. Uy, indeed, is commendable and inspiring. I hope and pray Providence leads her to the direction to greener pastures.


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