By Sean Sy (Class 2023)
The Asian Medical Students’ Association – Philippines Chapter (AMSA-Phil), through their representatives in the UP College of Medicine, the Medical Students for Social Responsibilities – International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (MSSR-IPPNW), conducted the annual “Outside the Box” conference last January 27, 2018.
The event sought to provide pre-medical and medical students with an opportunity to discuss relevant issues regarding health, society, and more through an alternative classroom experience, at the same time provide opportunities for participants to interact, socialize, and build rapport with students from other medical institutions in the country.
The morning session was held in Buenafe Auditorium at Calderon Hall while the afternoon session was held in the Paz Mendoza building.
Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, renowned and accomplished alumnus of the UP College of Medicine , delivered the keynote speech, entitled “Possibilities After Medical School Graduation”. In his speech, he invited listeners to look at the bigger picture. “Shaping society towards better health is more social than it is medical,” said Dr. Hartigan-Go. He noted that it is the structure of society that shapes the patterns that lead to the things happening around us.
Doctor Kenneth Hartigan-Go delivering the keynote speech
Photo taken by Pamela Pasco
The event also featured multiple plenary sessions, the first of which was “A Clinician in the Philippine Setting”, delivered by Dr. Johanna Cañal, Chair of the UP-PGH Department of Radiology. Her talk sought to discuss realities about the “MD life”, such as how one’s chosen specialization “cannot be expected to be exciting every single day — and that the sane mind would actually hope that not every day will be exciting.” She also shared insights about “adulting”, or making decisions that make large impacts later in life.
Another was “A Policy Maker in the Philippine Setting”, delivered by Dr. Beverly Ho, Chief of the Research Division of the Health Policy Development and Planning Bureau of the Department of Health. Her talk featured the realities about policy making in the Philippines as she built her career, such as the importance of completed staff work, the capacity to think even whilst giving respect to the lines of authority, and of developing self-awareness in health institutions.
The various speakers also stressed the importance of being able to view the study of medicine through different perspectives and that it should not be as individualistic as it is taught.
Symposiums were also held featuring an array of career paths for MDs, such as design thinking, education and business, and advocacy. These were led by Dr. John Wong, a specialist in public health, research, and epidemiology; Dr. Enrico Banzuela, UPCM INTARMED graduate and educator who founded Topnotch Medical Board Prep; and Dr. Geraldine Racaza, rheumatologist and lupus advocate.
The event also had parallel sessions on chronic issues that plague health and society. These sessions included the Doctors to the Barrios program, conducted by Dr. Nickson Austria, the relevance of medical students towards the emerging challenges of mental health, conducted by Dr. Gia Sison, the current state of medical research in the Philippines, conducted by Dr. Jaime Montoya, public mental health and policies, conducted by Dr. Paula Valera, and the current mental health perspective in dealing with substance abuse in the Philippines, conducted by Dr. Salvador Vista.
A photo of one of the plenary sessions
Photo taken by Pamela Pasco
Overall, the event was able to fulfill its goal of enlightening medical and pre-medical students on the different and unique possibilities for life after obtaining a medical degree, as well as to present to the students with a new, broader perspective on the way things are today both in the field of medicine and of society itself.