6 Nuggets of Advice for New Doctors

With Madame Juliette Gomez Romualdez (President and Chairperson of RTRMF Board of Trustees), Dean Ma. Elvira Galapon-Casal, other Board members and the Medicine graduating class of 2017


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

For comments, spjavier2958@yahoo.com

(Excerpts of Commencement Address given to the graduating Medicine Class 2017 of the Dona Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Medical Foundation, Tacloban City, May 20, 2017)

More than 30 years ago, I was in your exact same situation. When I graduated from UST Medicine at the Philippine International Convention Center, it was a most memorable event, not only for me, but also for the people I hold dear. So I stand here in front of you as someone who has been through what you have gone through as well. We now share the same pathway. We have all been made to believe that we come from the best institution, the best program or the best course. You have been made to believe – willingly or not, that you are the best and the brightest. Call it a way of instilling pride in all of us.

But this is NOW a good time to remind ourselves to nurture this pride in a humbling and insightful way, to use it in a cautiously flexible, receptive, grounded and positively changing manner.

So my first advice – Do not be an ‘isolate’. Collaborate, build a network, start external engagement.

The moment you conclude – that you can no longer learn anything from others, the moment you allow ourselves to be deluded to think that you do not need anyone, that you are the quintessential gift to every sector or group you will be part of, that is to effectively seal your fate as a non-progressive, self-absorbed and myopically sighted entity.

Advice #2 – Continue to grow. Continue to be a student. Medicine is a life-long process.

The world out there offers challenges, opportunities, threats and frustrations, but also rewards. This is now a different world you are entering. Back when I was in residency, the times were different. That was the era of beepers and gigantic cellular phones. We presented in conferences using transparencies and kodachrome slides. Back then, Apple was just a fruit, web was a spider’s sanctuary and a Twitter was a bird. Facebook was probably something I would look for in the library.

And because of these advancements, you are entering a world of 21stcentury doctor-patient relationships, where patients are not just accepting, unquestioning, fully obliging and unknowing. Patients can come with – “Doctor, I need a stent. Or “Doctor, I prefer a laparascopic cholecystectomy. Doctor, can you check my PSA?”

The future of Medicine in the decades to come will usher in dramatic changes. In the era of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc) and a borderless world, there will be questions, clarifications and doubts.

Advice #3 – Be ready, be open and be secure.

But now, let me ask you – is there anyone here thinking about what the future holds? How many of you, at one point in your class, while seeing your mentors or professors, decury instructors or revalida panelists, have been filled with awe, or envy, or the subconscious feeling of emulating or becoming like them?

In so doing, you are actually profiling. You are identifying role models. You are subconsciously setting the parameters and defining the path that you want to take. You may be subconsciously or consciously defining your criteria for that thing called SUCCESS.

Advice #4 – Success is how you define it for yourself. You figure out which gives you meaning, and which makes you feel empty.

There are key strategies we can use to achieve a better definition of success as we craft it our way. Priorities. Balance. Time management. Consider your trajectory from here on as a pie. A life pie. Your life pie should have three major slices – CAREER, FAMILY and SELF.

Advice #5: One must always strike a healthy balance of these slices. When one slice of this pie gets too big, the other slices will commensurately be affected and suffer.

Do not bite off more than what you can chew. Having a huge career slice can choke you. Likewise, having too little a career slice makes you feel wanting for more or inadequately accomplished. Now, having the entire pie as a self pie, can be too nauseating and suffocating. That is the ultimate “selfie-ism”. I call it narcissistic gluttony.

Advice #6; Always remember that Someone Else bakes and cooks that pie. Someone up there is the Master Chef.

When you hope to strike that balance with yourself, your career and your family, there are mitigating circumstances and oversight mechanisms that MUST come into play – your conscience, your values, your ethics, your faith, your fear of God and karmic retribution.

I wish you all a truly meaningful path, and a successful journey from here on. Thank you all for allowing me to be part of this journey. A pleasant afternoon to all.