Four of a Kind: Aspiring Medical Professionals

By Kristian Rivera

In a developing country like the Philippines, healthcare and research is far behind. The nation’s healthcare workers continue to struggle with limited resources, awaiting investments or support.

Little do we know that healthcare and economic development are more closely related than what we think. When a state fails to deliver in the medical field, it automatically affects the ability of an individual to contribute to the economy.

COVID-19 serves as a truth-teller of what power looks like in one’s nation. The way we battle this invisible enemy led to a system in the rock bottom. Indeed, terrible management and inadequate budget could lead to the worst in the middle of a health crisis.

Despite the little acknowledgement received by our medical professionals, it’s worth exploring what drives them to pursue healthcare work and the passion of these medical students to continue their dream of being part of the frontlines.

“We have a health crisis as it is. There is a renewed outbreak of infectious diseases. Deaths due to dengue are at record high. Polio has resurrected 19 years after the country was declared polio-free. Underfunded hospitals are understaffed and existing staff are overworked and underpaid,” said PhilStar Global in 2019.

Dr. Clemencia Bondoc told the news outlet that this lack of funding may discourage people to pursue medicine, but these four students remain firm in their passion for medicine.

Q: Despite the fact that nurses and other medical professionals are still underpaid, what made you decide to push through in the medical field amidst the countless health turmoil in our nation such as unbalanced health financing, lack of health information, and unavailability of medical supplies, vaccines, and technology?

Arren Abenes (BS Pharmacy, Universidad de Zamboanga): “In spite of the lacking tools and wages for health practitioners, one thing that made me push through this career way is the direness of helping other individuals through medication. We all know that the lack of support from our government, particularly in giving the proper sum of salary of the health workers is devastating, but I chose this career since this can satisfy me more than money. St. Catherine of Siena once said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Through this line, I realized and was motivated to pass the hope that he gave to me to other people. I know there’s a lot of people who are in need of my help someday.”

Purity Mae Alison (BS Medical Technology, Universidad de Zamboanga): “The reason behind my determination in this medical path I am currently in is that I see it as something I will do forever. I always view it as a hobby rather than a job in the future. I tried na ilayo ang sarili ko (to distance myself) from a medical related course, but it’s the calling that sounded so loud. I took the risk, and now, I’m following my dream, not just for myself but for the people who are in dire need of help.”

On another note, a study of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies from 2020 suggested policy actions to address the uneven distribution of healthcare workers in the country. About 75% of cities, towns in the Philippines lack health workers. Due to this low work-force, there are many medical professionals who died.

Alison and Abenes, as well as two other students who aspire to medical professionals, continued to talk about their drive to pursue the field, mostly pulling stories from the frontliners whose stories they hear about in the news and online.

Q: There are nurses who succumbed because of COVID-19. With our country lacking an anchor to its frontliners, does this affect your capacity to serve, and do you have doubts in working for our country because of the poor support in the medical field?

Alison: “During this time, I have been more inspired and motivated to study hard for the betterment of the future. Our frontliners have shown me courage and I admire them for their brave acts and fine qualities. This pandemic has showcased their greatness even though our country suffers from the absence of efficient medical quality. It does not affect my capacity and it doesn’t leave me aghast, but rather embolden to do better in this field especially in the future. Frontliners are great, a brave salute for them!”

Abenes: “As a pharmacy student, it doesn’t affect my capacity to serve. We all know that a few occupations are more dangerous than others. Truck drivers, loggers, and construction laborers are more likely to die on the job than most others. Firefighters and police officers, moreover, face more than the average amount of risk at work. It is known that with enough small commitments many goals can be met. Therefore, the impact you make, no matter how small, truly goes a long way. The best way we are able to protect everyone is to stay home, and work towards becoming the best medical healthcare workers someday!”

At a time when far-flung communities, and families are in lockdown, health workers, humanitarians and other crucial workers in the medical field are at the forefront of each and every emergency response, they have been continiously working hard to prevent the spread of the virus among the people, as well as provide immediate support, supplies and information. Facing reality, the pandemic even became the stronghold of our future frontliners.

Jana May Sila (BS Pharmacy, Universidad de Zamboanga): “The eagerness and passion that drove me towards taking a medical course in my college years despite having a lot of issues in the medical field. Just as what BTS’s Jeon Jungkook said, “I’d rather die than to live without any passion.” It (my passion) hit me: my passion and dream to become a health professional and work with tremendous cases in the field of medicine. And I believe helping others is more than a penny I could earn.``

Angel Bongcac (BS Medical Technology, Southwestern University PHINMA): “Since I’ve started my journey to be one of them someday, I keep reminding myself why I’m here, why I’m pursuing this big dream. I would like to say that we should be brave and optimistic. I just think of it as a challenge to outshine so we can have the courage to get through the tough times and can navigate better actions in life. If I put myself in the shoes of the health professionals, I won’t let any single kind of disappointment ruin my firmness of purpose to help the people in need, medically. I took an oath that I will do to the best of my ability to serve humanity by caring for the sick, promoting good health, and alleviating pain and suffering. In as much as I believe, the true satisfaction of my profession is being able to help and can give supportive care to the patients wherein we could give an assurance that they’ll be fine.”

“If no one will act, who would it be”, despite all of the turmoil regarding the field of medical, the eagerness to help is our top priority, said Sila.

Despite the eagerness of these four individuals to serve in the medical field, we should not dismiss the problems that they will be facing once they enter hospitals, clinics, and laboratories. Science and research still has a long way to go, and everyone should be pushing for its advancement.

To all the frontliners out there, you are fighting a good fight, but even the best can be cut down. In this invisible war against COVID-19, our public and private health workers are holding the line, knowing that there are young medical practitioners who are called by their passion to serve for our country.

To the men and women in health care, we thank you for going well beyond the call of duty. Battle isn’t over, as we have these individuals who are ready to conquer the field. (DC, PD, AE)

READ ALSO:

The Road to MD for the Aspiring Filipino Doctor

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We exist to document the lives and stories of our frontliners, who have devoted themselves to saving the lives of Filipinos during times of crisis.