Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Speech I Wasn't Sure I'd Deliver

A few days before my graduation from Internship, I was informed by the Medical Training Office to prepare a speech in case I win the Most Outstanding Intern award (there were supposedly 3 nominees). The winner is determined from the GPA and by getting a consensus from all clinical departments. By the Lord's grace, I delivered this speech on 08 May 2007 at our graduation.

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The Speech I’m Not Sure I’ll Deliver

One year ago, I was sitting at one of those chairs beside my co-interns, watching the graduation of the 2005-2006 interns unfold. I remember feeling a little envious because they were done with internship and I was just about to start. I still remember Dr. Jonas del Rosario, the Guest of Honor and Speaker, talk about his life-changing decision to give up a career as a pediatric interventional cardiologist in the US to work in our country. Dr. Bengzon talked about how internship really is a period of transition between a student and a professional. He reminded us to go back to our roots and always be mindful of where we have come from. And then there was the speech by the Most Outstanding Intern. It was a fairly unremarkable speech – he thanked his family, friends, and groupmates, and talked a little about his experience as an intern. He returned to his seat P5,000 richer and with an invitation to join one of the major departments of TMC. At the back of my mind, I wondered whether I’ll ever be good enough an intern to receive that award. I decided that it was a worthwhile pursuit while I spent my year here at The Medical City. With or without the award, I knew I wanted to become the best intern I could possibly be.

Life as an intern is difficult. The workload is tough. The stream of patients entering through the doors of the hospital seems endless and some of these patients are, honestly, very difficult to please. There are so many groups of people to work and maintain peace with: the patients, consultants, residents, nurses, ancillary and allied medical staff, and maintenance people. Despite all these challenges, I can confidently say that I learned a lot in TMC this past year. I will be dishonest when I say that it was a smooth and pleasant experience all throughout the 1 year I spent in the hospital. But in all, it was enjoyable and fruitful.

I learned much in terms of medical knowledge but I learned more in my everyday experiences dealing with people. I learned that a little compassion and care goes a long way in pacifying a mommy who’s furious at an intern because he wasn’t able to insert an IV on the first try. I learned that anger isn’t the best response to a patient who’s just tried to kill her unborn baby with Misoprostol and who’s bleeding profusely. It was also in TMC where I realized that the human heart, beating rhythmically inside the thoracic cavity of a patient undergoing open heart surgery, is more majestic and more beautiful than all of nature’s waterfalls and mountains and that few are ever privileged to see this. These, and many other lessons, are God’s confirmation that I am right where He wants me to be.

As we face more trials ahead, the question I believe my co-interns and I are truly faced with is: how committed are we to medicine that we will do our very best in each of these challenges? The Philippine Physician Licensure Examinations is possibly the first we will encounter of these trials. For some, the next would be residency training at a local hospital, and for others still, the USMLE. The endless training and examinations and constant upgrading of knowledge is a reality all doctors face. Are we committed enough to enhance our craft and become lifelong learners for the sake of our patients when our contemporaries are out there earning real money and starting their families and businesses and finally becoming stable? Are we willing to sacrifice more sleepless nights and more days away from our families because we are on-call at the hospital? I am confident that for most of us, the answer is a resounding yes.

We owe it to God, our parents, and our patients to ensure that we become the very best doctors we can possibly be. This means aiming for the best score we can possibly attain in the board exams. This means caring for patients no matter how outright silly their complaints are and how difficult they can be to deal with. This means being present physically and mentally in all patient encounters and thoroughly explaining to them what we intend to do with their bodies.

I stand before you today, named Most Outstanding Intern. I am honored and I am humbled. But the reason why I strived for excellence during internship was not because I wanted to win this award. A passage in the Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Years before, I struggled with the Lord about which medical school I would attend. Using that experience, He humbled me severely and took away the pride I felt at my accomplishments, which really weren’t much. He taught me that I am where I am because He meant for me to be at that exact place, and not because I worked hard for it. For this new blessing, there is no one to praise and glorify but God alone.

I have been a recipient of God's tremendous blessing throughout the years. In His wisdom, He has found it fitting that such a rotten vessel as I, a mere jar of clay, should receive so much wealth from Him. That has always been the story of my adventure with God. And I'm sure this all has a purpose that fits perfectly in His jigsaw puzzle. I know that one day, God has a higher purpose for me and all these blessings are just prelude to a greater task. I am excited to find out what He's really up to and that is what keeps me motivated to give my all, to try to excel in everything that I do. I know He has so much more in store for me. And this is how I know that what I'm saying is true: there's a passage in the Bible that has been one of the foundations of my life, and I'd like to share it with you. Philippians 1:6 says "…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

I know that the same is true in your life. In your own adventures with God, He will surely have tried to lead you through a certain specific path where you have encountered some victories and some defeats. You may have resisted Him for awhile but you always found yourself heading toward that general direction. That little path, my friends, can never lead you to anything wrong. It is His perfect plan for you. Take it, take that leap of faith, and just follow His leading. I encourage you, especially my fellow graduates, to try to excel in all things the Lord puts in your way.

Before I close, let me express my deepest gratitude to my whole family for their love and support. I deeply thank my parents for all that I am today. I also thank my very supportive Tita Wena, who understands what it is to be an intern in this hospital. I’d like to thank my friends for their encouragement and for providing me with an avenue to vent and rant and rejoice. I also thank the whole batch of interns this year for tolerating my style of leadership and for making our stay in TMC fun and worthwhile. In behalf of the interns, I thank Drs. Concepcion, Senseng, Tanbonliong, and Ramboyong for spending their time making sure we were learning. We also would like to thank Ma’am Frances, Grace, and Diane for making the internship program run smoothly. We want to thank the consultants who make sure we learn some medicine while doing all the paper work. We’d like to thank all the residents, especially those who take time out to teach. Notable among them are Drs. Alviar, Matibag, Robles, and Napalinga. We also want to thank all the nurses, laboratory staff, technicians, orderlies, and the maintenance staff who have made our stay at TMC fruitful.

To my co-interns, we leave the halls of this hospital happy to be done with the work of internship but also anxious as to what the future may hold. Dr. Bengzon, during the groundbreaking ceremonies of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, said: “Dreaming a dream is easy. Living it out is the test of both its validity as well as the character of those who dare dream.” Let us not stop working towards the kind of medicine we want to practice someday. Let us instead dream and confidently face the challenges that are sure to come our way in the future. By the grace of the Almighty God, we will overcome. Thank you. May God bless us all!

6 comments:

wickedsis said...

congrats my friend!! :)

Dindi said...

congratulations! :p

karlmd said...

thanks guys!

The Fish said...

VERY nice speech! Not only because you mentioned my name but because it's really very meaningful and inspiring. Read some of your blog entries too and i must say you're one hell of a writer. Goodluck sa boards!

karlmd said...

thanks dra fish. hehe.

shey said...

congrats