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
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.