Thaddeus C. Hinunangan, M.D.
Out on pass is a borrowed term used in hospitals, where a patient is temporarily sent home for a respite, with promise to return for definitive treatment. Dr. Thaddeus C. Hinunangan is a physician by profession, and a writer by heart. His work was published in several anthologies and he also contributes to Philippine Daily Inquirer Opinion column.
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Working in an institution as large as Philippine General Hospital (PGH), time seems to just lose its meaning. With the many conferences, specimens to cut, read, and sign out, time flies by and the next thing I know, I’m in my third year of residency. My ten autopsies are done, and it is time we as seniors accompany the second and first year residents on their first few autopsies to teach and supervise.
From service cases purely, this year we take the cytology, hematology and pay cases. We are no longer an afterthought in sign outs, this time, consultants will look for the seniors first to sign out their cases, and as one young consultant told me once, they tend to listen more to our opinions now about the cases as well.
What I like about being in PGH was the culture of continuous teaching and learning. While it is a given that most activities in residency is gaining the skills and expertise to diagnose, here we get to teach undergraduate students of Public Health and Dentistry taking up units in General Pathology, facilitate the gross and microscopic lab sessions with second year UP College of Medicine students, medical clerks and post-graduate interns, as well as various rotators from different departments and institutions. You will be forced to read, and what you learn gets reinforced because you need to also pass on the knowledge to others.
As with every resident in training in any field, our personal life takes a backseat. In the past two years I went home to Leyte only once, for four days. It felt strange walking the streets where I spend my whole life in, suddenly sprouting new buildings and establishments. My nephews and nieces were all grown up, and I felt like I’ve been stuck in a blackhole somewhere time could not reach me… We all know where that is. But spending a day visiting my mentors from Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Medical Foundation also gave me a glimpse of what life would be after I finish residency, pass the diplomate board exams, and finally practice as a pathologist and serve in Leyte and Samar.
As our training becomes more intensive, I also have taken a hiatus from contributing to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and feature articles for Health and Lifestyle. But in true blogger form, I decided to keep on writing for my column. Not everyone is given the chance to be given a voice and I still want to tell stories of my journey in PGH. This time around I want to be more technical, less whimsical. I want to devote my skills to writing about new methods we use in Pathology like immunohistochemistry.
When a morphology of a certain malignancy is not clear cut, we often would resort to immunohistochemistry, which relies of the principle of antigenantibody interactions to identify and “light up” certain unique antigens in cells. This aids in coming up with a diagnosis with more confidence and certainty. This technique is particularly useful in malignancies of unknown primary or poorly differentiated neoplasms. I plan to start with some of the basic stains that can be requested as basic panels, so that it would serve as a guide to clinicians, or even just give a little extra information so they can decipher what is written on a surgical pathology report.
There is still a pile of reports and trays of slides waiting for me as I write this. For now, I just want to greet everyone a very prosperous and productive new year, and hope that God will give us strength to rise to every challenge this year.
January 2019 Health and Lifestyle