"The Triumph of Science over Death"
replica of sculpture by Jose Rizal
UP College of Medicine
In any medical school, it is easy to spot the students who will choose to train in Internal Medicine after graduation. They are usually the quiet and studious ones, the ones who are always in the top of the class, the ones who ace exams while we mere mortals struggle to pass; they are self-assured and clear-eyed about their future life as doctors.
They are a special breed who choose to train in Internal Medicine - perhaps the most mentally and physically challenging of specialties in medicine: cardiology, pulmonology, nephrology, hepatology, hematology, oncology, gastroenterology, neurology, infectious diseases and more. The rigorous training needed to become an internist, taking up to 10 grueling years AFTER graduating from medical school, is legendary. These are years of 48-hour days, of sleepless nights, of meals forgone, of family life put on hold, battling fatigue and practically living inside the hospital.
Only the most brilliant ones can become internists. They are the ones who know and recognize the most subtle patterns of thousands of diseases, quickly sifting through mountains of data and filtering them in minutes and making decisions that literally could mean the difference between life and death. They are the ones who you hope will be there when your life is on the line. They, more than any other specialty, are the ones who can truly call themselves “Doctors of Medicine.” Only they can rightfully claim the title of “PHYSICIAN.”
Infectious disease specialists are a particularly remarkable breed. During this pandemic they risk their family and their own lives daily and yet they choose to leave the safety of their homes because they know that this is why they have trained so long and so hard. They know they have prepared all their lives for this moment and they feel compelled to help in whatever way they can. Some even made the ultimate sacrifice of losing loved ones. And still, barely taking time to grieve, they chose to jump right back into the frontlines.
Thus it pains me to see how some of them are now shamelessly vilified, their integrity and competence questioned, and accused of doing all this for the money! I am appalled that they can be so recklessly and ruthlessly exposed to the unfair court of public opinion, totally defenseless.
There is no one among us - doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, politicians - not one of us can, in good faith, even consider these baseless accusations. It is truly immoral to tarnish these heroes’ hard-earned reputations just to assuage the guilt of knowing that perhaps you were largely to blame for the tragedy that has befallen your family.
No, please do not do this to these people. They don’t deserve this…and we certainly don’t deserve them.
TK Gonzales MD