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Alfonso Suico, Jr. studied medicine

 

Doctors and Priests
Alfonso Suico, Jr.

Thereís a new batch of doctors who have taken the oath to be servants of the sick and friends of the infirm. For most of them, becoming a fullfledged doctor is a dream come true. Some will go on to pursue advanced specialties while others will take other options. I would have been one of then, had I not chosen another life.

When I was interviewed after applying to medical school, I was asked why I wanted to become a doctor. Like most applicants, my answer was: "To serve my countrymen."

It was a noble purpose, but as we went along that resolve faded into the background. I myself through constant discernment, discovered that I had another calling. It was still a life of service, but it involved following Christ as a priest or brother.

In medical school, we went through a lot of hard work, long hours of study and many sleepless nights, morbid patients, medical missions, endorsements, etc. We met different kinds of people: a child who refused to have his throat examined, a mother who was anxious about the condition of her baby, a few grumpy men, among others. Our patience and perseverance were tested but the interaction was between a doctor and his patient.

It was a bittersweet life, hut my restlessness was overwhelming. So in my clerkship year (fourth year), I left to begin a life to which I felt I was called.

That was over two years ago and I am happy with my choice. The transition wasnít an easy one. Friends, classmates and some doctors tried to dissuade me from pursuing my vocation. Some said I must be nuts to do it. Others were simply cynical. But I had the full support of my family, which made me feel a lot better.

The first two years of formation were a time of getting involved with many people in different places. In some brief "exposures," I was with the Iumad community in the mountains of Davao, sugarcane workers of Negros and the poor and needy in the urban areas, helping in the missions and the parishes. I learned how to deal with people in a personal way.

Now as a novice, most of my time is spent strengthening my relationship with God, reflecting and discerning how genuine is my vocation ó and getting enough sleep.

Even during my formation, I experienced difficulties but these became instruments of growth and healing. At a time when scandal is rocking the church, I reflect on my own failures and try to discover how God makes use of these imperfections to effect conversion and bring his love to all. Here at last I have found my rest.

And yet when I think of the new doctors who have reached the goal I once shared with them, I canít help but feel a little wistful. I shared their struggles, I knew their pains and their joys. But since I have taken a different path, all I can share with them is the hope that they will become doctors who have compassion for others.

I pray that these new doctors will see the person in every patient, a person needing their professional help, yet also needing understanding and compassion. May they recognize that service means going beyond themselves and embracing others as well. May they defend and uphold life from its conception. May service come first before gain or prestige. May they not be contented with curing the disease but proceed to heal the person as well. May they be true to the oath they have taken.

I have seen the suffering of the poor. I have listened to their woes and miseries. I hope these new doctors will take a radical step to respond to the cries of the countless suffering men, women and children.

As religious, we are called to serve. As doctors, they are called to serve. Whatever profession or vocation we may have, we are all called to serve others with love and compassion. To bring to perfection our human frailties so that we can move forward in our journey to the kingdom of God.