Sunday, May 28, 2006

Jail Time

He looked dirty. His face was really dark and he badly needed a haircut (and shampooing). Somehow his toenails managed to look clean. Aside from the pounds he gained, he was unmistakably the classmate I had 12 years ago.

I knew him even before I reached high school. His name preceded him. My Math tutor always raved about his knack for the subject that when I reached high school I wasn’t surprised at all. He was really good with numbers.

The room stank. There was no ceiling below the galvanized roof which made the atmosphere stifling. The walls were grubby and aside from a bench and a table, dilapidated furniture were scattered about. How on earth did someone like him end up in this Godforsaken place?

He wasn’t really everybody’s friend to start with. In high school I started to dislike him when he ate my dinner share during one of those stupid boy scout camp outs. I was so hungry that night that I left the camp and went home never to finish the activity. Somehow, others seemed to have their own personal grudges against him.

But that was high school. I never saw him again up until now, but talk about him impressing people with his math abilities in college came around, so I assumed he was doing well. The next thing I know was that he was behind bars for some drug trafficking case and now he was standing before me. He’s been in jail for two years now and only one person from the batch has visited him.

What was there to talk about but of old classmates, and then the similarity ends there. I wouldn’t think he’d be interested in my life, or my cat, so I just asked him what he needed while spending time inside. He apologized for looking the way he did as he wasn’t expecting us. He said he needed items for personal hygiene. And after a few more minutes of idle talk (because there was nothing more we could talk about), we bade him goodbye promising to visit the next day.

Before I left home the next day, I was thinking of what to give him to make his time inside worthwhile. I asked myself what would I want to have had I been in his shoes? And the answer came to me. Books. I found my old calculus book (its thickness can protect you from a gunshot) on a dusty shelf, and together with a condensed Reader’s Digest book, shoved it into a plastic bag.

He surprised us with a new haircut and cleaner clothes. More small talk followed until we realized that we were just repeating yesterday’s conversation. It was as if we were just waiting for visiting time to be over, and soon enough, the jail warden came in to tell us it was time to leave.

I don't know if he will ever have his freedom back. The law will be the judge of that. I just wish him safety and good health inside that forbidding place. Also, may he find all the solutions to the integral problems in my Math book, most of which eluded me. I'm quite sure he will.

There’s a lot to be thankful for.
hey you former HS classmates of mine who are silent viewers of this blog, go visit!

Friday, May 19, 2006

psst psst!

Miss nyo na ko no?



Monday, May 01, 2006

Personal Statement

My mom is a general practitioner, and as such, she knows almost everyone living in the small town I grew up in. Most of her patients are farmers who are not able to pay for her services in cash, so they prefer to pay in kind - live chickens, freshly picked vegetables, eggs, or whatever they have. The pharmacy we tried to run went bankrupt in no time because of the trading system that went on. But my mom didn't mind that. She enjoyed serving the community and the community loved her back.

Dealing with people has always been a natural instinct for me. My ability to connect easily with all types of patients, from small children, to the mentally ill, to the frail elderly has always served me well. There are difficult ones,occasionally, but I manage to earn their trust eventually, something which I believe is the most important aspect in a patient-doctor relationship.

While doing my Pediatrics rotation in the out patient department one day, I heard my name being called out as the next patient for a well baby visit. Thinking this was a prank, I checked out the chart myself. Surprisingly, it really had Baby Boy DUKE written on it. A mother smiled at me carrying her month-old baby and told me she named him after the intern who took very good care of her when she delivered her son. I was flattered. Just a month ago, this woman was my patient. Today, it was her son I was attending to.

Every year, my hometown produces at least 10 new doctors. When I earned my medical degree, there were all kinds of specialists available. After graduation, I participated in various medical missions to underserved communities while deciding on what field to pursue. I vowed to keep an open mind regarding residency selection to see what the various medical and surgical fields were like, and I realized that being a general practitioner allowed me to reach out to a greater number of people who needed medical attention. Moonlighting in ERs and OPD clinics helped me retain my basic sciences and did not limit my views to a certain specialty. I realized that I enjoy interacting with children as much as delivering them. I enjoy caring for men as much as women. I find my most rewarding days to be those when I am able to follow up with a patient I have already seen before.

I believe that a family practitioner cares for people through the course of their lives. He cares for the entire family in both health and sickness, thus developing a unique understanding of each person's values and beliefs. To copy someone's words, "This physician cares for families throughout the community and thus better understand each individual's role in society. These relationships form the fabric of family medicine and allow the family practitioner, the expert in common diseases, to provide comprehensive, holistic medical care."

Nothing compares to the feeling of breaking the news to a father about his son being born, or that of a little girl who stares at you with amazement after her earache disappears, or that of a father coming to you with all three sons in tow for circumcision. When a man returns to your clinic for another try despite his failures to quit smoking, you become as engaged as he is in helping him succeed. Indeed these simple situations are the ones that make the practice of medicine worthwhile.

I smile at the thought of being referred to by people as their 'family doctor' as much as there are 'family lawyers' and 'family dentists'. I smile at my desire to educate everybody on the adverse effects of smoking and drinking. I smile at the challenge of a difficult diagnosis and racking my brains out. A career in family practice will offer me all of these on a daily basis. I believe that this is my calling.

And if eggs, live chickens, and vegetables will be all I get, I guess the next thing to learn is how to cook.


my personal statement submitted to 14 hospitals i applied to during the 2006 US residency match.
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