Archive for the ‘Medical School’ Category

Nepalese MD’s to train and render service in Bicol Medical Center

February 14, 2009

As a result of the drop in the number of medical school graduates and the exodus of local doctors to foreign countries, the Bicol Medical Center (BMC) in Naga City has resorted to bringing in 40 doctors from Nepal. From the remote country close to Mount Everest, Nepalese foreign medical graduates will be in the city to train and render service.

“The Bicol Medical Center (BMC) in Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City is a 500-bed government tertiary hospital under the direct supervision of Department of Health Center for Health Development – Bicol, Legazpi City. It is a non-profit institution and one of the 13 medical centers under the National Government.” http://doh.gov.ph/bmc (Photo Credit: bmc)

The presence of imported healers in Naga is expected to beef up the medical personnel of the government hospital which has suffered the lack of MDs for the last 5 years. There have been fewer applicants to fill in the 28 doctor-vacancies in BMC. Therefore, the coming of the international physicians appears to be a boon to the hospital service in the city. But is it?

Without inciting any nativist sentiment against the foreign professionals, I think it is justified to ask if the Nepalese doctors’ schooling is comparable to those of the local physicians. The adherence to standard medical training (i.e. in the tradition of Western allopathic medicine) is important before they are allowed to handle patients. Their medical background must be adequate to meet the peculiar health needs of the community. To ascertain competency and avoid compromising the health of patients, they must be tested for basic communication and clinical skills.

Though the Department of Health (DOH) approves of these foreign doctors, does the government have guidelines that define the scope of medical duties and accountability? Are the professional regulations in place to protect the doctors, their patients and the hospitals where they work? Will the presence of these trainee-MDs not interfere with the training and oversight of local doctors, nurses, and other paramedical professionals? Are there enough senior MDs to supervise and teach them? Are they not in violation with the rules of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) which regulates physician licensure and practice? Has there been discussions on the effects of foreign doctors on the healthcare of the nation? Their presence may distract the government from pursuing the programs which will make local doctors stay and serve the community instead of going abroad.

In a blog I posted on August 27, 2008, I wrote:

According to Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Reynaldo Santos, M.D. the arrival of these foreign medical trainees attests to the high quality of education in the country. But this is doubted in the wake of a sharp decline of the number of hospitals, a marked rise in patient load for doctors and nurses, a low passing rate of Filipinos in the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE,) an over-crowding of patients and trainees, lack of budget, equipment upgrade, and medical facilities in many hospitals.

I hope Bicol Medical Center has ironed out the important issues cited above. Otherwise, sending in the Nepalese doctors will solve some of the current healthcare problems of Naga City, but it can also spawn fresh and bigger challenges that haven’t been given enough attention and consideration.=0=

RELATED BLOG: “RP’s 40% drop in med school enrollment & the foreign doctors” Posted by mesiamd at 8/27/2008

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Paying Homage to Community Service

September 11, 2008

The Diamond in the Rough Awards of a fraternity at UP-PGH caught my attention. I thought UP Ibalon Bicol had an excellent candidate-M,D. for the nomination. But there had been obstacles to hurdle. So I wrote a letter to the secretariat which oversees the contest for service-oriented doctors to share my thoughts. Read and you decide.

To the Diamond in the Rough Awards Committee:

I’m elated to know about the Diamond in the Rough Awards. I thought I have a fine candidate in mind, but I was a bit disheartened that it has age and location restrictions. Here’s why.

I have difficulty reconciling that age matters in giving honor to a lofty and admirable endeavor such as community service. In the US, there are a few bases of discrimination that I know. One of them is age. I believe it is also true in the Philippines.

Come to think about it. Isn’t there a shade of injustice if we give a shelf-life (expiration date) to recognize exemplary deeds? I always think honorable work must be for all and for eternity. I believe many of us in the profession feel young way beyond 40 years old. Besides, we’re not thinking here of an award that can prop-up careers, but awards that careers have made.

Also I notice that the contest is for rural doctors. But aren’t there blighted and underserved areas too in the big city which have worse conditions than in the countryside? I believe doing grassroots work in the city can be no less daunting.

I don’t have control over the rules. I humbly respect your age limit of 40 and other restrictions. But in my opinion, in considering a person’s recognition, longevity of work and service gives more bone and credence to a person’s motivation. It will give prestige to your contest. The location of the exemplary work isn’t very relevant as I explained above.

An award such as what you offer is better not restricted for prodigies or upstarts who dazzle us like evanescent dewdrops that may vanish in the cold. How many outstanding young men have gone astray? Who has left the rural areas after receiving honor? How many of them abandoned their cause or tarnished their recognition?

I’m sure there are unsung people out there who in their middle age or in their twilight years got the holy grail of their life passion. They are among the people worth honoring in the contest. I’m pretty sure they’ll inspire us more, just like the young ones to pursue causes greater than their own.

I hope this observation may help your fraternity reconsider the criteria of your award. If there is any change, please tell me and I’ll be happy to try and make a nomination. Thank you so much for your attention.” =0=

RP’s 40% drop in med school enrollment & the foreign doctors

August 27, 2008

It seems a good thing that doctors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN,) a group of sovereign states in partnership with the Philippines, are coming to the country for study. This development is timely when at least 5,000 doctors have left the country since 2004 and about 6,000 have shifted to study nursing for jobs abroad. In the last three years, a staggering 40% drop in medical enrollment is noted. Asian Journal Online (08/26/08)

An uncertain number of foreign doctors who come from Iran, India, Malaysia and Indonesia and other neighboring countries have sought training in Philippine hospitals, many in the provinces, even if no Department of Health (DOH) guidelines are existent to regulate them.

According to Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Reynaldo Santos, M.D., the arrival of these foreign medical trainees attests to the high quality of education in the country. But this is doubted in the wake of a sharp decline of the number of hospitals, a marked rise in patient load for doctors and nurses, a low passing rate of Filipinos in the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE,) an over-crowding of patients and trainees, lack of budget, equipment upgrade, and medical facilities in many hospitals. See related article on medical diploma mills below.

If the Department of Health (DOH) and the Education Department (CHED) don’t act fast, it will not be long before foreigners will be able to judge for themselves the quality of education and healthcare in the Philippines compared to that of their countries of origin. It is deleterious for the country to rely on foreigners to solve the shortage of physicians or seek them to shore up dwindling medical enrollment. Without infringing on the physicians’ rights, measures to reverse the brain-drain of local doctors must be high in the priority. (Photo Credit: Doctian) =0=

MEDICAL SCHOOL DIPLOMA MILLS

A disturbing article entitled Medical School for Sale? was written by Emil Jurado of Manila Standard on July 26, 2007. It’s unclear whether the Department of Health (DOH) and school authorities (CHED) took satisfactory remedial action to prevent further erosion of credibility with the alleged proliferation of diploma mills in the country.

In concordance with the requirement of ASEAN’s Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)mandating to honor medical licenses and credentials among member nations, this highlights the need to write the long-overdue guidelines needed for the regulation, hiring, and training of local and foreign doctors in the Philippines. Here’s a part of Jurado’s riveting piece that needed verification plus action from the government:

The Times of India, a very prestigious newspaper, published an article, “Now showing: Manilabhai MBBS*.” The article is very derogatory about our kind of medical education. The latest MBBS scam to appear on the medical scene in India is based in the Philippines. “And this one’s even less complicated than the others.”

The article says: “There is no entrance test for admission, now, will you need to attempt the screening test in return?” says Upveen Harpal, accounting executive, HCMI, which is sending students abroad.

The article adds, “So, anybody with 40 percent in Class XII examination and who could pay Rs 16 lakhas (about P1.6 million) upfront could head for the Philippines for an MBBS and come home to practice. No questions asked, and Harpal claimed that this was a three-party tieup among HCMI, a medical school in Manila and a medical school in Tamil Nadu, India.”

To add insult to injury, Yogesh Sharma of Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad wrote an article entitled, “The Philippines dangles carrots to Gujarat students: Be doctor for Rs 20 lakh.” The article implies that there are no more requirements to enter an MBBS program in the Philippines since the title gives the impression that all one needs is Rs 20 lakh or P2,000,000 to become a doctor, courtesy of fly-by-night or spurious Philippine medical schools, and diploma mills for sale. “ *N.B. M.D. in the Philippines is equivalent to MBBS in India. Manila Standard (07/25/08, Jurado, Emil; Photo Credit: PaulCooperBland)