I have come across this issue about Resident Doctors referred to as “fake” doctors a couple of days back. I remember mentioning it to my wife one morning as she herself is a Pediatrician and I thought it might be of interest to her to go through the article that was going viral and was creating a stir in the medical community.

It was only today that I chanced upon reading the article and I was quite surprised, or should I say annoyed, as to how Miss Lety V. Sicam gave out her opinion on the issue about “fake” doctors. I would like to believe that the article was written with the right intention but I seriously think that the situation where she based her opinions does not support the initial intent.

Let me raise a couple of points:

1. Resident Doctors are LICENSED DOCTORS.

She explicitly wrote in her article that “I guess a probe should be made not only on this fake doctors, but also with doctors who believe that they are already licensed doctors because they are called “doctors” even if they are only “resident” doctors.”

With all due respect ma’am, RESIDENT DOCTORS ARE LICENSED DOCTORS. They passed the medical board examinations which is the requirement of our government for them to be called Licensed Doctors. So to associate them as “fake doctors” is foul. These Resident Doctors went through 4 years of Medical Schooling, a year of Internship, passed the Medical Board Exam for Physicians, and, more importantly, sworn in as a Doctor by the Philippine Regulatory Commission. The only difference is that a Resident Physician is a doctor undergoing further training for a specialization like Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, etc.

2. History taking is part of the medical protocols.

Medical practioners need to get basic information from the patients before they could make a decision on what to do with the case. It is about arriving on a diagnosis so it is an important part in making the right decisions. I mean, you don’t expect to go to an Emergency Room and a nurse or doctor will know what to do with you without you opening your mouth.

So I think if the nurse asked what seemed to be the concern, it would be prudent enough to cooperate by telling them what you know rather than blasting on the nurse that they should know. Knowing what is happening is half of the battle so that they would know what to do with the patient first. So far, I don’t think that reading minds is part of the curriculum of any medical school.

I would be terribly upset if the case was I would be given Diatabs for chest pains because the one attending to me, read my mind that I had diarrhea rather than chest pains because I would not cooperate.

3. Competencies are not measured by what you wear and the languages that you speak.

I completely disagree with some part Miss Sicam’s statement – “But by the looks of it, he seemed to be a fake doctor because he was discourteous, he was arrogant too like the nurse, he was not in uniform, he has no name tag, or insignia, he did not answer in English.”

Since when did the command to the English language become the basis of determining a fake doctor to a legitimate one?

I think that speaking in English is necessary for a medical practioner’s communication skills. It is necessary for effective communication with patients and colleagues but I definitely would not judge or consider a doctor “fake” because he would not speak in English. Sorry but I really find this frame of thought disturbing that our competencies are reduced or questioned because of our grasp on the English Language. I would not want a doctor to speak in English to an uneducated Filipino inside a government hospital.

Furthermore, does uniforms really matter with profession? Some companies have uniforms while others allow their employees to come in as they are so does that mean that those in uniform are the real ones while the rest are fakes? And when Miss Sicam mentioned that the nurse and the doctor was in “casual wear”, what did she exactly mean? Were they in casual attire or were they wearing scrub suits?

I have seen a lot of hospitals where nurses and residents wear scrub suits and it is a practice that is well-accepted. It looks casual but it is an accepted attire in the hospital set-ups. Hence, she needs to further clarify that, because wearing a scrub suit does not make one a doctor and does not also make one less of a doctor.

Although she also had claims that are valid and offers no excuse for doctors like being discourteous, arrogant, and not wearing at least a nameplate, but the premise that doctors are considered fake because of their grasp of the English language and what they wear is annoying. Miss Sicam’s statement undermines the education and training that these young doctors had to go through because they do not look the part, based on her standards, and because they do not speak English. It also puts into question the recruitment standards of government hospitals with her article.

I know that Senator Santiago’s move against “fake” doctors are really geared towards those who practice medicine without the education and legal requirements to practice the profession to back them up, unlike what Miss Sicam is trying to imply regarding resident doctors. The article that she wrote, based on her experience, is obviously an attempt to write something that she never took the time to really look into or even do a little research and then try to correlate it with a current issue. In all honesty, I think the article is not damaging to resident doctors but showed her ignorance on a matter that could have been validated with a little research. It also shows that it was probably her first time to enter a hospital or even talk to a doctor.

And for the record, I am not a doctor.