Monday, November 9, 2009

My first real job

            My first real job as a doctor was a pretty simple one.

            The day after I swore an oath to "uphold the dignity of my profession" (and other promises), my aunt immediately had me working with her foundation, doing free consults.

            My target patient population was a group of women and children who lived in a small inner-city community in Cebu City. Her NGO is focused on the reproductive health of women and planning families and since I was a believer, I of course, said yes.

            Now, this wasn't my first experience with women and children, because when I did my post-graduate internship, we were assigned to a community health center for women and children which we visited weekly for free consults. You'd be surprised at how many things they suffered from, women and children, all almost related to the ravages of urban-living.

            Still, this was my first real job as a licensed doctor, or physician (as it sounds more official) and I was nervous as hell. My aunt called me and told me that they'd be using the downstairs office as my consultation center and proceeded with her program. Even though it was something really simple, I could not neglect the fact that there was also a chance that I could be wrong, and that I could also misdiagnose or worse, not know at all what was wrong with the patient.

            I chose to wear a simple white blouse. It was probably a good choice, because some time after someone I know told me that wearing white always conveyed a good effect on other people. He wore white during his med school entrance interview to convey a subliminal (but effective) message that he would look good as a doctor, that he was a fit candidate for acceptance. I thought that was fairly amusing...playing with the minds of others so you could get what you want, even if it was as simple as picking a color to have a desired effect.

            And so, I wore white, not too casual, not too formal, but definitely just official enough to let people take me too seriously. My heart was hammering in my chest when I introduced myself to the crowd as Dr. M____, saying a bit about myself and where I came from and what I was going to do that afternoon.

            One by one (or more appropriately, in groups, because some mothers had 2-3 kids that they wanted to have checked too), the patients were ushered into the consultation/examination room, and one by one, I listened and worked. I usually take time in talking to patients, because I like hearing a little more of their stories and their condition before I diagnose and prescribe.  Which is, probably not a good idea, of course, when you've got many of them...

            Anyway, I noticed that almost all, if not all of the patients had respiratory problems, there was cough, cough with fever, chronic runny noses, bronchitis, pneumonia, even one that I suspected had TB  (tuberculosis, which of course, is generally treatable, depending on what kind it is). Inner city communities had crowded conditions which allowed these diseases to flourish and propagate.

            It was a bit dismaying on my part to just offer a temporary solution to their ailments, because I knew that, if their living conditions and economics didn't change, I wouldn't be able to do much to change things from where I was. The next best thing I could do, as advised by my tita, was to advise them of the wealth of health services available to them.

Their health centers were relatively well-equipped and had free medicine available. And if there weren't, there were Botica ng Bayan outlets near them, accredited by the Department of Health.  Cheaper medicines were on hand, as well as free medical consultation services at their health centers.

            It was an eye-opening experience, and I’d love to have the opportunity to do something more in the future. Although I felt intimidated at first, and anxious because of the gravity of the responsibility, I gradually relaxed because I realized that these were cases I’d seen before, and the “jumpiness” was only because I was doing it on my own, and not depending on any senior officer anymore.

            Still, I wish there was more to be done.  


  1. Kudos to you :)
    Your calling is sure to help a lot of people and I'm sure that through time, you'll be able to help more. More blessings for you Sonia.

  2. I really hope that you will continue what you are doing. It's something noble.

  3. @r u s s: Thanks, I love my job,'s not paying very well yet, but I am head-over-heels in love with it. :-)

    @len: Thanks len! :-) What year did you graduate?were you in doc saceda's class?:-)



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