Saturnino P. Javier, MD, FPCP, FPCC, FACC
Dr. Saturnino P. Javier is an interventional cardiologist at Makati Medical Center and Asian Hospital and Medical Center. He is a past president of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) and past editor of PHA’s Newsbriefs
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Whereas before they used to be mere companions or minions to their sick parents and grandparents, carrying their bags, pushing their wheelchairs, tugging along their canes and their personal belongings, they now carry something else – far more substantial, profoundly more significant.
They now carry additional letters to their names – MD or PhD or LLB, among others.
With the length of time spent seeing and following up patients through the years, some developments eventually transpire – though quietly, unnoticeably. I talk about career developments and professional growths. There are exceptionally triumphant transitions one can witness through the lens of a clinical practice embracing healthcare delivery for decades. I have somehow graduated physicians, lawyers and other professionals – in my practice of Medicine. Once college students or high school graduates fresh from secondary schools and later pursuing a Medicine course, some are now newly minted physicians accompanying their parents and grandparents for clinic consultations.
What a huge source of joy that the constant companion of this patient is now himself a medical professional in a university hospital – who now speak the same language as a physician? This brings about better communication and an easier understanding of clinical dilemmas, confounding medical issues, distressing examination findings – or worse, alarming and tragic histopathologic results alongside bothersome ominous prognosis. They – the new physicians (or the new lawyers, CEOs or company presidents) in the families of patients I see for years are triumphant events that I literally witness quietly on the sides as patients regularly visit me in the clinic.
Having physicians in families where there used to be non-ushers in some changes in the office billing structures. For one, these families now enter the ‘no charge zone’ as they now have a fellow physician in the family. Amusement and mild shock are elicited from patients when they are no longer being charged because a new member of the Hippocratic family has emerged. ‘You now have a physician colleague in the family. This is now the dictates of our (Hippocratic) oath.”
In a practice that spans nearly two decades, close bonds inevitably develop with patients. Such bonds pave the way for families of new graduates to seek my professional advice on where to train and which field to pursue in this profession. I take pride that I have ‘bred’ a number of colleagues. I gloat at the remote possibility that what I do – or what I have done – must have ‘inspired’ a hibernating physician among some members of the families I treat. Just as well, I must humbly take credit that I was instrumental in convincing a number of individuals when some measure of doubt was setting in. They ask – “Can I do it, Dr. Javier? Will it be worth it?” And I always remain positively reassuring.
I must have egged on a number of families to allow a son to pursue a medical degree when the parents themselves are very much against it. Likewise, I must have stopped some parents from ‘pushing’ a recent college graduate to pursue a course they themselves, not the child, are the ones excited and eager to pursue. As I constantly remind them that choosing a course in Medicine entails a lifetime commitment, it has served many families well – and led individuals to another path many of them rightfully deserve.
Thus, when I address a new physician as “Doctor” for the first time, I feel like I have raised and nurtured one as well. I relish the triumph – and revel in the euphoria – as I welcome the newest addition to the family. Is it a crime that I selfishly and presumptuously declare I am part of the role-modeling, the guiding, the benchmark-setting and the decision-making of this new MD? Then, I am guilty as charged.