It's been awhile since I chimed in here at our Yahoo groups. The original plan was for me to write on the blog of our relatively spankin' brand new PIDrU website. But since I'm not tech savvy enough to do that, I figured I'd write here in our Yahoo groups first and hope someone with the know-how would take pity on me and put this on our website blog later so it can hopefully reach more people.
I rarely write on our Yahoo groups. Like many of you, I have half a dozen e-mail addresses and because of that I get to check my Yahoo one maybe once in two weeks. I do try and get caught up with PIDrU news but hardly give my two cents worth – just happily remaining silent while I read everyone else's emails. Maybe it's because I don't have much to share when everyone else is talking about the MCCEE, MCCQE1 & QE2, CaRMS, OSCE, etc. Don't get me wrong, I feel very exhilarated when I find out that there is still so much hope, so much inspiration, so much generosity among our PIDrU founders and members. It does my heart proud to know that those who have succeeded in getting licensed/relicensed here in Canada try very hard to give back and pay forward their blessings to our newcomers and recently landed immigrant kababayans.
I've just found it a little harder to relate to the busy email chatter, since from the time I arrived in Ontario, I never really had any intentions of getting relicensed and practicing as a medical doctor in Canada. However, I do know that PIDrU is not just about encouraging our fellow Filipino immigrant medical doctors into getting relicensed in Canada. As a fortunate and grateful recipient of the amazing support that our founders and members have given, I know that PIDrU is absolutely more than just that. Arnell, Vic, Bong, Philip, Ben and so many of our PIDrU proponents have not only been a source of inspiration to all of us but have been instrumental in helping many of us get settled, network, find jobs, and even occasionally become a source of emotional support. It just feels great to know that when you need help, the members of PIDrU are there to rally behind you.
I've often wondered how I'll ever be able to give back and pay forward to others who come to PIDrU, knowing that I am not of the mind to pursuing a medical license here in Canada. On the few occasions that some of our newly arrived kababayans were referred to me for advice or tips on how to get employment, I felt some gratification sharing my experiences and what I did know, always hoping that I was of some help in my own way.
A month or so ago, I shared with Ben, who is a great friend of over 25 years, news of recent blessings I received. Ben, who I'm sure was very happy for me, almost immediately encouraged me to share my news to the rest of the members of PIDrU. I thought he believed it should provide some inspiration out there to others like me who are determined to take a career path different from medical practice and let them know that success can also be achieved on this road less traveled.
Not that I believe my news is much of a success already, but it heartens me to finally get started on a career path that I've longed for since moving to Canada. I immigrated to Canada over three and a half years ago, not knowing anyone but Ben and his supportive family. It didn't take me long to realize that knowing Ben, his sisters and their families was a blessing in itself which was more than I could hope for. Ben introduced me to the members of PIDrU, who immediately welcomed me with open arms and gave me guidance and support. With persistence, I was able to find two jobs in two months. I started working part-time in Clinical Research during the day and teaching Human Anatomy in the evenings. Because it was a strain to hold two jobs for long, I reluctantly gave up teaching and remained in Clinical Research which was the more practical choice. I moved to a different company after a year and a half, but still stayed in Clinical Research for another two years.
In the last Clinical Research job I had, there was a requirement to train others periodically, which made me realize how much I missed teaching and the world of the academe (I was an Assistant Professor in two departments in St. Luke's College of Medicine before immigrating to Canada – the Surgery and Anatomy departments). So for the last year or so, I was applying like mad for teaching jobs in different colleges and universities in Ontario, trying to catch a break and get back into the academe. I was interviewed many times in the last year – at McMaster, Wilfrid Laurier, University of Waterloo, and University of Guelph – many times to the second, even third, interview, but later almost always losing out to a candidate who had taken their Masters/PhD from the respective university I was applying at. Many times, I just lost hope. The frustration and desperation would get to me and for some time I would just surrender. I kept praying for a break, but figured I'd never get one if I stopped applying. In the end, I realized that maybe I was too ambitious and it would be wiser if I applied for a Masters Program, go back to school instead, start from the bottom so to speak, and get my foot in the proverbial academic door.
Since my pre-med undergraduate degree was a Bachelor's in Psychology, the logical choice for me was to attempt getting into a Masters Program in Psychology. There were so many to choose from, but eventually after much deliberation weighing in my interests, the practical aspect of opening for employment prospects in the future, and trying to envision myself and my happiness several years down the road, I finally decided on applying for a Masters Graduate Degree Program in Community Psychology, which was only offered at Wilfrid Laurier University. After gathering more information in my target program, I found out that since I had an advanced degree (my MD of course) and if I were willing to take a couple of courses at the Masters level, I was actually eligible to apply for the PhD Program in Community Psychology. To cut a long-running story short, to my delight, I was eventually accepted into the PhD Program!
The Community Psychology Program is about community mental health and well being, social justice and responsibility, cultural acceptance and diversity, and civic involvement and engagement. It would give me an opportunity to do research and advocate for immigrants, refugees, people seeking asylum and other populations in need. It would allow me to work on access barriers to health and social services, listen to the voice of the marginalized, and possibly address the issues plaguing new immigrants. For the first time in a very long time since I immigrated to Canada, I was finally excited about starting something that I was very passionate about.
Within the same week of receiving this piece of good news, I also found out that I was accepted as a Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph! I never stopped applying for academic jobs the whole time I was waiting to hear from my PhD Program application. And just when I was ready to finally give up on taking a crack at teaching in a university setting, I finally get the break I've been waiting for a whole year. Even better news was, apart from the opportunity to teach Pharmacology in the coming Fall term, I was informed that there's that prospect of teaching more courses in the coming terms, and that they were hoping I take on teaching Distance Education courses in the near future.
Come September then, I will be wearing many hats in the academic setting: PhD student, research and teaching assistant (that's how I'll get a stipend from the university), and course lecturer. Of course, these events mean I will have to take a pay cut for a few years, but the financial set back is something that I am quite happy to accept.
I guess the whole point of sharing my thoughts in this email to everyone is that if in your heart you know that getting relicensed and practicing medicine in Canada is not the thing for you, you can still aspire to pursue something you really want to do even if you are middle-aged. Having persistence, more so, hope and faith, are virtues we all should hold on to. Onward and forward, PIDrU.