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Dr. Paolo Victor N. Medina

If the TOFP award was created according to some model Filipino physician’s mold, then it was Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan’s.

Dr. Paolo Victor N. Medina

When I was told of Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan’s nomination to the Ten Outstanding Filipino Physicians (TOFP) for 2012 my initial reaction was one of bewilderment; not because Sir/Doc Jimmy, as he is fondly known, is not deserving of the recognition but because I was asking myself incredulously, “Sir Jimmy doesn’t have an award like the TOFP under his belt?” As it turns out, he doesn’t. And apparently, he hasn’t even been awarded similar accolades in the past. I found this very hard to believe and honestly, to accept. Looking at the criteria for the TOFP only served to strengthen my conviction. If the TOFP award was created according to some model Filipino physician’s mold, then it was Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan’s.

In terms of personality, there are few doctors I know who could match Sir Jimmy in terms of professionalism, community leadership, personal integrity and selfless service. As one of my mentors in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, he is among the few who have made such a tremendous impact in my life. With his life’s example, he continues to influence my professional choices, passions and advocacies especially in the fields of Community Medicine, Philippine Public Health and Primary Health Care. I can still vividly recall the very first lecture-workshop he gave to our class back in 2004 where he clearly laid down the principles of traditional, community oriented, community-based and community managed health system models. In retrospect, that lecture changed my life and shaped my pursuit for knowledge and self-actualization throughout med school. I wasn’t aware that he was a former Secretary of the Department of Health back then. When I eventually came to learn more about his reputation and career, I knew then and there that I had a role model.

As I developed my skills and knowledge in med school, I found myself spending more and more time interacting with Sir Jimmy and like-minded mentors and peers at the UP College of Medicine. When I started my training to be a physician, I envisioned myself in the traditional clinical paths of either being an internal medicine specialist or a pediatrician. However, because of Sir Jimmy’s influence and the opportunities he directly and indirectly gave me, I started to rethink my idea of who and what a physician should be. Through his many lectures, symposia, workshops and merienda cenas, I came to realize that there was more to being a doctor than the white coat, the stethoscope, the scalpel blade or the hospital rounds. Here was a successful physician, a famous physician actually; advocating for Health for All, Community based and managed Health Systems, Staying and Serving the People/Philippines and Responsive Health Systems before these things became fashionable so to speak. His efforts to bring to light the “brain drain” phenomenon of health personnel back then was particularly poignant and memorable. His experience and expertise made him a sought after resource person of institutions like the DOH, WHO, UNICEF, etc when it came to drafting their programs and projects to address the myriad problems of a fragmented Philippine Health Care System.

In 2007, Sir Jimmy introduced me along with 8 other classmates to Dr. Jose Antonio Socrates who was himself a passionate leader in the field of Primary Health Care and Community Medicine. We ended up spending nearly a month traveling the length of Palawan for our Community Medicine elective. In that time I came to find my true calling. I knew that I was being called to go beyond tradition and be a doctor for the nation. That was Integrated Clinical Clerkship Year; 3rd year med school proper – when I decided to go and serve in the community to the best of my ability. After I graduated med school and passed the physician licensure exams in 2009, I was given the chance to pay it back to the nation by accepting the post of Municipal Health Officer in the Municipality of Quezon, Alabat Island, Quezon Province. This was a dream job for me and I’ve never looked back since. Thanks to Sir Jimmy’s influence and direction, I believe I’m contributing much to Local and National Health Systems Development by being where I currently am.

The amazing thing is I am not alone and we are far from being only a few who are in non-traditional medical careers because of Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan’s guidance and influence. Most of us are actually in key positions in the different aspects of the Philippine Health Care System, which at the moment is in a period of exciting, optimistic, positive and hopeful change. We are working at/in the LGUs, NGOs, Academe, Research, Health Service Delivery, Health Financing (PhilHealth), Health Leadership/Governance, etc and we owe what we know and how we use what we know, directly or indirectly to Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan.

I for one, am doing the best that I can as MHO to honor what Sir Jimmy shared and continues to share with me. Many of my colleagues and peers are doing likewise. However,
it’2009s about time that such a great physician, philanthropist, mentor, teacher, friend and person like Sir Jimmy, gets the recognition that is long due him.

Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan is not only one of the Ten Outstanding Filipino Physicians. He may just as well be one of the best Filipino physicians who has ever lived and more importantly, served the Philippines and the Filipino.

Dr. Paolo Victor N. Medina

Municipal Health Officer Municipality of Quezon
Alabat Island Quezon Province
UPCM Batch 2009

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