19 October 2007

Filipino Doctors

Naku, what a busy month! I have been trying to get up to speed at my new job, and I finally caught a break today to get up to speed here at Filipina Moms. We’ve had a couple moms share touching stories about losing their parents which I hope mobilizes you to get yourself and your family screened for the “preventable” cancers. Because of their prevalence, we know that breast cancer and colon cancer have touched most people’s lives, my family included. Unfortunately, our community is known among health care providers for waiting until the late stages to come in for check ups. Let’s prove that stereotype to be wrong!

And speaking of stereotypes, I can’t even believe that ABC dared to even joke about the professionalism and qualifications of doctors trained in the Philippines! Since I graduated medical school, I have always felt I gained membership into two clubs. First, I joined the MD club where everyone speaks the same esoteric jargon and shares jokes about death and disease. Second, I was welcomed into the Filipino doctors club. Having grown up in the States and graduated from a US medical school, I felt like a rarity, but I always felt invited and welcomed. At every step in my career there have been older Filipino doctors who have been leaders by example in their care of patients and professionalism. Even the recently graduated doctors have quite the age avantage on me because most have spent years waiting in line for a chance to come to the US. One woman I recently met graduated from medical school in 1993 then completed residency and then advanced training in pulmonology and critical care before finally winning approval from the embassy to join a research group at the Mayo Clinic. After a handful of years there, she restarted her internship at a US residency and finally started her road to citizenship by working at a J-1 visa approved underserved, impoverished clinic. Her story is pretty typical. Therefore, doctors from the Philippines are usually more experienced than the majority of interns starting right out of medical school.

It has been said several times before, but we need to applaude and thank the hundreds of doctors who come here and meet the need that US medical students are abandoning. Our country is experiencing a shortage in primary care doctors which is projected to only get worse as more and more medical students choose non-primary care residencies. Each year, the number of positions in Family Medicine residencies, for example, drops. Primary care doctors in rural communities are even more scarce.

What would motivate someone to go through residency twice? How do you leave behind the improvished country of your birth to serve the improvished of this country? Why would someone put their life and family on hold to become the butt of some ignorant joke? What is going on in the Philippines if doctors can’t even make a decent living?

I don’t have any answers. But I do have a lot of respect for my Filipino colleagues who have sacrificed so much and who continue to serve Americans each and every day in the hope of one day achieving citizenship. Salamat sa inyong lahat.


Grace said...

I know that when my parents moved here, they had to restart their lives. Their opportunity to move was due to my Dad's job in the US Navy. My Mom left her job as a professor at a college to come to the US with 3 daughters under 6 years old. I know that for them, the move was to begin a new life. A "safe" life. A life with a broad array of opportunity. So this still might be the reason that Filipino professionals move here and re-establish themselves. To gain a "better" life -- not just for themselves but their children.

Lois Lane said...

we're proud of you, la dra! you give docs a good name. can't believe teri hatcher uttered that ridiculous line!

briar said...

i only bumped into your blog today while looking for a job.. funny.. i am a medical graduate myself (a licensed MD in our motherland) and believe you me, if it weren't only for the meager pay the doctors are getting, i wouldn't even have thought of working overseas.

but that wasn't the point of the blog tho right?! yeah desperate housewives should do more in-depth research before they start throwin lines like that of teri hatcher's character.