musings of an assist

my whole month of october is dedicated to two things: emergency room (ER) duty and operating room (OR) assists. while at the OR as second assist (or rarely as first assist), i have tons of time thinking about other things: e.g., mulling the prospects of my career after one and a half years, wondering what movie or TV show is on HBO, AXN, or CinemaOne tonight, and looking forward to eating a vanilla sundae with cookies & cream and chocolate fudge after scrubbing out.

as student, i have the luxury of sleeping on my own bed when i'm not on duty, which happens every 3 days. in comparison, the amount of time required from surgery residents is quite ridiculous. there was a time when we did a whipple's procedure for an ampullary mass, and the surgery residents that i assisted at the OR were supposed to be post-duty status, but the procedure went well into 3am the next day. one of them called her husband to say, see you nalang in 3 days, and told her spouse to look after their 5-year old son. i feel sorry for her not being able to cuddle her son as often as she's supposed to, but i guess surgeons are tough like that.

aside from eavesdropping, er, accidentally overhearing results of pre-residency and being able to staple the skin, i also thought about doing a survey on medical students who are or who have been assists at the OR, such as:

which of the following best approximates your feeling about being an assist at the OR?
  • gusto kong umaakyat para sa OR at gusto ko pang mag-assist sa next case
  • ayaw ko sana umakyat sa OR kanina, pero since nakascrub-in na, ako na sa next
  • ayoko talagang magscrub-in kung may choice ako [obviously wala]
  • none of the above 
please rank these locations of hospital duty in order of preference:
  • emergency room
  • operating room
  • wards
do you think about surgery-related stuff during assists?
  • yes
  • no 
do you think about NON-surgery-related stuff during assists?
  • yes
  • no
do you intend to train in surgical fields, such as Surg, ORL, ObGyn, Ophtha?
  • yes
  • no
Then, after getting enough responses, I can actually do some multivariate logistic regression, and answer basic questions as to whether our atittude towards OR assists translate to career choices. To take it further, someone can probably do a longitudinal survey and see if such choices are actually realized.

But, of course, instead of doing such tedious stuff, I might be better off sleeping and conserving energy for the next assist.

davao regional

after having worked for 3 months already at the philippine general hospital in manila, i decided to compare a major tertiary referral center in davao, in my hometown, and see if the place is at par in terms of health care.

davao regional hospital, or regional as we the locals call it, is an impressive hospital, it turns out. i actually grew up at a stone's throw from the hospital, roughly around 200 steps away, but without really seeing its insides. yes, because there is still that public versus private hospital mentality.

except for one instance where i went to their chapel to attend mass when i was still a child, funnily this was my first time to actually see, hear, smell and feel the place as an authentic medical center.

the demographic in regional is almost the same as with my dear pgh: poor helpless citizens of the philippines with no money to pay for private health care, although i feel a little more attached to my fellow dabawenos because they speak my language.

from what i gather based on the clusters of happy smiling faces of doctors on the hospital walls, regional has several accredited residency training programs. they have a pretty solid reputation in residencies in internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics & gynecology, anesthesiology, and family medicine. i also heard that they have graduated their first neurology specialist in tandem with davao doctors hospital.

ha! what's amazing with regional is that they seem to have way better infrastructure than what pgh currently has. true, emergency room pa lang, taob na, ang ganda at ang linis kahit madaming patients, parang private hospital.

the hospital has a spanking new, shiny lift! pgh's elevators are put to shame. regional also has several ramps where wheelchairs and stretchers can be pushed and pulled to and from the 2nd and 3rd floor. i don't think we will ever have that in pgh.

the charity wards have the same feel as that in pgh on any normal day, where all beds are filled to capacity. i went to the pedia wards at the back of the main complex to take a look, where patients and watchers have a small playground outside the department.

the hospital is actually very proud of having been cited by the country's president in his annual state of the nation address as the first public end-referral cancer center in mindanao, with a functional linac machine and several specialists on board, e.g., surg-onco, med-onco, and rad-onco.

i was able to write to dr faiqha bagis, one of the few rad-oncologists in davao, although nanghihinayang talaga ako that i wasn't able to meet up with her.

i am really happy to see that regional has evolved into a hospital i can be proud of, comparing it to pgh standards of course. here's hoping that more medical centers like this are put up in other parts of mindanao and the philippines as well.