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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Reminder for Doctors during the Oath Taking of New Physicians April 2012

The following is the content of the response made during the Oath Taking of New Physicians (last April 1, 2012) by one of the incoming batch of physicians from Cebu who happens to be also a priest and a good friend of mine....Rev. Fr. and now Dr. Alfonso Suico, CSsR. 

One day, Peter and John went to the temple area to pray. There they were met by a crippled man who was begging. Peter said to the man, “Look at us.” The crippled beggar then raised his hand hoping to get alms. But Peter said, “We neither have gold nor silver but this do we have. In the name of Jesus Christ stand up and walk.” The beggar then stood up and walked.

To the distinguished members of the Board of Medicine, headed by Dr. Jose Cueto Jr., representatives from the PRC, officers of the PMA and CMS, parents and families of the new doctors, administrators and deans of the different medical institutions, our mentors from school and the review centers (esp. CDB), my confreres in the Redemptorists, my colleagues in the medical profession, friends, good evening.

It is with joy that we gather this evening for this oath taking ceremony. As what they say, this marks the end of a long and challenging education to the medical profession as it also marks the beginning of our lives as physicians. I stand here not on my own, but in the name of everyone who took the recent medical board exam in February 2012. For those who successfully passed the exam and those of our friends who tried and gave their very best but are not here. They too deserve our salutes for the best efforts they have shown. In a special way, we congratulate Dr. Jon Karl Velasco who successfully made it to the Top 2. To me he is a batch mate, a colleague and a friend. My sincerest congratulations to us all, especially after that difficult exam.

The task asked of me was to give a response. As I reflected on what I will share with you, I am reminded of that biblical pericope or passage I’ve mentioned earlier: the visit of Peter and John to the temple. You see, John and Peter came to the temple to pray. Both have been filled with the gifts of the Spirit yet coming to the temple now, they were met by a crippled man, a sick man. Having no gold nor silver, they shared the only thing they have – the gift to heal. Like Peter and John, we may not have gold nor silver but we have been given the capacity – the gift to heal. And it is this that we must share to others.

I often hear during graduation ceremonies and other occasions where there are speakers who would encourage their young listeners to go and achieve much in life. Go as high as you can. Excel in your careers. I believe that they are right of course. But to me, you can go as high and achieve and excel as much as you can but never must you compromise your moral principles. Medicine is not only a career, it’s not only a profession. First and foremost it is a vocation to serve. And to serve those who are in most need of care: the sick, the dying, the handicapped, the poor. It is a vocation to do our share in healing a broken world.

Many of us would watch TV shows about doctors: House, Grey’s Anatomy Nip/ Tuck, ER, Scrubs, when I was a kid there was Doogie Howser MD… but my earliest recollection of what a doctor is like was my mother. Before she had a stroke she was a physician. Instead of pursuing sub-specializations, she decided to go into government service. Even before she did so, I could still remember how we would be waken-up late at night because our neighbour’s child is sick, or somebody was terribly ill, she wouldn’t complain instead would get up and attend to their needs, even doing house calls at 3 o’clock in the morning to our neighbors who couldn’t afford even to buy paracetamol. Ever since I was a child, that was already the image of a physician that has stayed with me.

Each one of us may have his or her own image of what a doctor is like. Yet, regardless of what it is, let us always be reminded that we are there to serve others not just ourselves. As physicians we are called to heal persons not merely curing diseases. And I speak not only to us, new doctors, but I speak to all doctors who are here. 

This is the pledge that we are making today. This pledge which we say is not a mere formality, it is a promise and we do it knowing we have the capacity to do so in responding to its demands. Years from now, when many will have become specialists and successful in their own right, I pray that you will always bring this reminder with you. 

Lastly, our love and gratitude must be expressed to the persons who have helped us through medical school, internship and the board exams. To our parents and families, friends and sponsors, our schools, hospitals, residents, consultants, nurses, staff, friends in school and everyone we express our innermost, heartfelt gratitude. 

Personally I would like to thank my confreres, my alma mater – CIM and my friend and mentor Dr. Toom and my CDB family, as I dedicate this achievement to my family who are far away especially my sick mother who for me is the best doctor in the world. 

We may not have gold nor silver, but we have something we can share with others: our time, our talents, our abilities, ourselves. That way we may truly become instruments of healing a broken world.

Alfonso P. Suico, Jr. MD

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