Back in Manila: pre-residency, social rounds, and baby steps to adulting

The becoming of a doctor is a neverending series of first steps. Here is another one.

This post features some of the things I was up to last November, from pre-residency at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) to a couple of “social rounds” with oft-missed friends.

s/p 10 days of pre-residency

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10?

Over the last few years of medical school, I always answered with a vision of working in health policy while maintaining a family practice on some weekdays. It’s a dream that starts here. Maybe, hopefully.

(Read: conversations on rough terrain and my old projects highlighting the intersectionality of health: FSL Sign Language Week and Anastomosis 2018)

When I say “family and community medicine”, most people would answer with “what’s that?”. It’s not surprising. In an increasingly specialized world, generalists and jack-of-all-trades have become both rarer and yet paradoxically less valued. The big bucks won’t be found in this specialty, but big changes hopefully will.

Our position description officially says DFCM seeks to hone trainees with a more wholistic perspective in the care of patients, families, and even communities. From womb to tomb.

Now incoming first-year residents. I was lucky enough to have spent my first day of pre-residency under the guidance of Ziara and Eroll, who were also from ASMPH (and from the same FCHM elective). I also met Paige that day. :)

I can’t remember the last time I was an “on-duty” intern. It feels like I spent the entirety of 2021 studying for board exams and watching online lectures, though I know that’s not true.

It’s hard to shake off that rust and regain the confidence needed when talking to patients, even and especially when it’s via teleconsultation. I feel like an intern with a PRC license (that’s exactly what I am). I can only trust that the next few months will sharpen our so-called clinical eye.

Meeting senior residents. The DFCM application process is a two-way street —it’s us getting to know the department, and the department getting to know us. One of the highlights of pre-residency was getting to know our future senior residents. I’m grateful everyone I met was so kind and accommodating, including our outgoing and incoming chief residents, next year’s R2s and R3s, and administrative aides. Here with sir Nejie, sir Ray, and ma’am Debbie. Special shoutout to sir Mikas (not in picture), a fellow ASMPH alum, for encouraging us throughout the application process.

(Before I was a pre-res, I was an internal medicine clerk being guided by intern Doc Mikas in Ospital ng Makati! How time flies, from 2019 to now: Reporting for Duty)

asmPGH 2021: I’m not the only one puzzling over the new EMR system and the confusing hallways of PGH. Happy I got to see (if briefly) Jabie and John, who were also going through their pre-residency in the departments of pediatrics and anesthesiology, respectively. There’re more in our batch whom I’ll hopefully hangout with soon! It will be a challenge negotiating free times. At least we have a telegram group.

i keep coming back to manila

I was born in the presidential suite of the Philippine General Hospital*. Then I spent 95% of my formative years along the busy roads and sketchy neighborhoods of Taft, from St. Scholastica’s College along Leon Guinto to the questionable sanitation and engineering controls of the UP Manila campus for college.

I love Ortigas, and I love everything it aspires to be. It was in Pasig where I discovered it’s possible to walk freely from place to place (without fearing for your life). It was in Pasig I learned it’s possible to have bike lanes and no-car roads on weekends. Neighborhood markets and community zumba sessions can actually exist.

But it’s Manila I keep coming back to.

First look. I think nothing can beat sunsets along Roxas Boulevard. Haven’t checked out the Dolomite beach though.
Ramen night with BTS. A true throwback to my college days in Manila. I spent my first (or was it second) dinner cooking up some ramen with leftover beef. Then I watched an episode of In The Soop 2 for added healing.
Back in UP Manila. During my “first day”, I thought I’d get a little bit lost moving inside the main campus. Turns out I need not worry; I made it out alive. There are so many new buildings and facilities though!
Walking tour. We walked leisurely from Padre Faura to Rizal Park to the Kartilya ng Katipunan Park, where this little beauty sits. Kapetolyo by SGD had a real vibe I’d love to revisit. And also we might have walked a little too leisurely; we didn’t make it in time to catch the sunset along the bay on our way back.
Marianne!!! I know so many people based in Manila, but social distancing and scheduling conflicts limited my contact with the outside world. But catching up with Marianne (follow her blog here) was a non-negotiable. Thank you for the meal! And thank you for everything. I look forward to catching up even more with you.

*TMI. My mom likes to bring up this fact whenever it’s even vaguely relevant; we only got that chance two decades ago because my maternal aunt, Tita Mina, worked as a nurse in PGH.

and a couple of social and adulting rounds

What medical school won’t teach you: the bureaucratic hoops on your road to get that license. It will take several hundred pesos and a lot of patience. But highlight of my day was seeing Maco, who’ll also be starting residency at the PGH internal medicine department!
Serendipity; examples include seeing your friends while waiting for certificates and authenticated documents at PRC Morayta (another bureaucratic nightmare). So glad I got to chat with Raph and Madie for the many minutes it took to get our files.

In other news, I downloaded TikTok so I could better chat and share BTS content with my sister (who would have thought!). The auto-sync feature makes it so easy to sync and edit clips together:

There are a couple of photos and videos missing from this blog post: my (lonesome and tedious) online oathtaking under PRC last Nov 18, followed by a celebratory slash birthday lunch with David and Faye at Ogetsu SM Aura, then followed by a small party at David’s place the night after. I also had to look for a condominium and figure out my employment requirements the next week.

It was a very busy couple of days.

Until next time!


P.S. This has been a scheduled post. Hope you have a good weekend!

Bonus: The day I left for Manila, Kaleb was welcomed to the Christian world. There were two other babies christened that same day; I can confidently say ours was the best and most handsome one.

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