Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Who's Desperate?

My fellow Filipino physicians in the US are in an uproar over an episode of Desperate Housewives where Teri Hatcher's character (Susan) sees her male Caucasian gynecologist:

MD: Well, everything seems normal. But, you say you've been having irregular periods?
Susan: Yeah, you know, one month off, two months on. That happens, right?
MD: Have you ever experienced night sweats? .... (few other lines here)
MD: How about hot flashes?
Susan: OK, whoa. I'm gonna stop you right there. I'm way too young for that, please refer to your chart.
MD: Susan, I know for a lot of women the word menopause has negative connotations. They hear aging, brittle bones, loss of sexual desire...
Susan: Before you go any further, can I check those diplomas? I would just like to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines...

Boom. Immediately calls were made to boycott the series, write letters to ABC executives, demand an apology, file a class action lawsuit….. I totally understand the outrage considering all the racial, academic and financial obstacles we all had to hurdle. But let’s examine this closer. Do I expect to lose a single patient in rural Oklahoma as a result of this comment? Are we Filipino doctors irreparably harmed? I don’t think we Doctors worked and studied very hard just to become excessively threatened by insensitive and mediocre scriptwriting. We should have a fair idea of how much we are truly worth.

I admit I used to be awed by Harvard and company. Not anymore. I now know it isn’t all in the school, no matter how plush their classrooms are and how much cutting-edge technology is available in the laboratories or even in faculty members brimming with degrees. A physician’s competence ultimately depends on one’s capacity to learn arising from a deep compassion to care for our patients.

So while I am not happy about the comment I will continue to be at the endoscopy unit at 6:45 am and see patients the whole day and get on with my practice and give the best patient care that I can. I don’t intend to be bothered by those who will allow DH to influence their choice of physicians.


Celeste said...

I agree, brod.
Reading the script, I somehow felt she was alluding to the diploma mills in Manila that fabricate diplomas while you wait. Tipo bang the doctor wasn't really qualified but just bought his diploma off J.P.Rizal Ave.
I practice in MA and nobody has really made an issue of my graduating from a Philippine medical school. (at least not to my face)

Celeste Aquino-Enriquez
UP Class 1999

Albert said...

Hello Dr. Bautista,

I took my off-campus Clinical Clerkship Elective in a multispecialty clinic in Houston, TX. My Aunt there happens to be the branch managing physician, and the medical staff counts another Filipino doctor in addition to herself (both internists).

And I agree with you - my Aunt has so many patients that I find it hard to believe that Americans (at least in that area of Houston) share the sentiment of Teri Hatcher's DH character.

It must have been a shallow scriptwriter.

Albert Domingo
UPCM Class 2008

Bundok said...

Even if it doesn't affect the way we give the best care to our patients, (or that it was part of a TV promo ad or just a joke)I still feel it was an insult to us Pinoys. Airing it on a international TV isn't very much comforting either.

Martin D. Bautista, M.D. said...

the comment was addressed to a white male doctor. everybody knows that white males who want to become doctors but can't get into a US institution seek education elsewhere--Mexico, Philippines, Grenada, etc.this has been referred to as the "5th pathway" for the longest time. there is no insult to Philippine honor here.

pian said...

I received this e-mail. If you want to sign the petition down below. While it may be true they were not referring to Filipinos in your conclusion, the fact that it mentioned the Philippines is a dishonor by itself. We can't just stand here doing nothing.

Subject: Filipinos Denigrated on ABC's Desperate Housewives

Dear Kababayan and Allies:

I heard through the grapevine about a remark made on an episode of
"Desperate Housewives" last night. The scene entailed Teri Hatcher's
character (Susan) at a hospital, being told by her gynecologist that
she might be hitting menopause. Susan replied, "Can I just check those
diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some
med school in the Philippines." If you go to abc.com, you watch the
full episode and witness the scene at about 18:50 minutes into the

This type of derogatory remark is not only unnecessary and hurtful,
but is also unfounded, considering the presence of Filipinos and
Filipino Americans in the health care industry. Filipinos are the
second largest immigrant population in the United States, with many
entering the U.S. and passing their U.S. licensing boards as doctors,
nurses, and medical technicians. In fact, the Philippines produces
more U.S. nurses than any other country in the world. So, to belittle
the education, experience, or value of Filipino Americans in health
care is disrespectful and plain and simply ignorant.

As Filipino Americans, we need to band together to ensure that this
type of hateful message is not allowed to continue on our television
and radio airwaves. Given the recent amounts of media attention that
has been given to Michael Richards (against African Americans), Isaiah
Washington (against gays), and Rosie O'Donnell (against Asian/ Chinese
Americans), it is ridiculous that this type of hateful speech made it
through various screenwriters, the show's producers, the show's
actors, and ABC itself. Yet, this isn't the first time that negative
remarks have been made about the Philippines or Filipinos in the past.
In recent years, we've heard one too many "dogeater" comments by
"comedian" Joan Rivers on the red carpet or in her standup act, and I
believe that it is about time that we stand up for ourselves, so that
this type of hateful speech never happens again.

Please join me in expressing your concern, disappointment, and/or
disgust to the producers of ABC.com. You can sign the petition at
http://www..petitiononline.com/FilABC/ or you can reach them directly

And please feel free to forward this widely to other Filipinos/

shark said...


You're right, the relationships with patients, when maintained right, won't be affected one bit.

While Brod Maxie made some valid comments on how we should not be affected, I'd prefer your view that it is not so much as from what school you graduated from, but how you practice your medicine that matters.

Ang magnanakaw ay galit sa kapwa magnanakaw. Maybe the shallow writing by a frustrated Caucasian hit a nerve in Filipinos who haven't overcome their imperially inculcated inferiority complex.

Carl Demetria
UPCM 2004

pian said...

You don't simply ignore a racist remark and attribute it as a joke. Racism is a crime in America. If you continue to discount this as a sign of our inferiority complex, then we will remain inferior until we learn to fight back. Para naman hindi tayo maituring na duwag.

MD said...

Of course this won't and shouldn't affect the work routine of filipino doctors who have been in practice in the US for some time now - those who have an established practice and patients who trust them and would be willing to endorse them to their friends and family. But what about those of us who have not yet reached that stage in our career? There's enough discrimination as it is. Events such as the DH episode which propagate the negative image of filipinos in general and filipino doctors in particular just contribute to making it more difficult for "newcomers" to earn the trust of new patients and potential employers. The eternally uphill battle just gets steeper. I'm not concerned about the existence of racism - that will always be there. What bothers me are the possible consequences of the irresponsible actions of people involved in TV and the media. This is a direct hit to our profession... but, again, established physicians probably need not be concerned.

jeff said...

it's not whether you're an established physician or not...you do not want to treat patients who discriminate against you because you're a foreign medical graduate...that will just set you up for a malpractice suit for a perceived wrong

foobarph said...

i agree with your opinion. i cannot say more... im just waiting for ABC comment about our "reactions"

Anonymous said...

FYI, the producers of the show and ABC have issued an apology...

MD said...

This is the 3rd time I'm entering this comment... it hasn't appeared on the site the two previous times that I've tried, so forgive me if there are duplications later.

To JEFF - my point was that I am disappointed that the episode is PROPAGATING the idea that a medical diploma from the Philippines is a sign of incompetence (that IS the implication of the whole dialogue, right?). To someone who is either uneducated or impressionable or both, this might be taken as truth. You may not think so, but it's possible. And this just makes the uphill battle of a foreign trained physician even steeper. Your point is beside the point.

Angel said...

Hi Dr. Bautista,

It is good to read your take on this issue here. I am not a doctor but as one Filipino doctor friend of mine said: "The statement was unfair but there is no reason to get hysterical."

I don't know how other patients are but I also do check out the credentials of the doctors that I see. =)

pian said...

I wouldn’t think it’s a hysterical reaction but simply our assertion as an inferior race so this incident will not happen again.
It's about not taking **** from anybody.

rey said...

ABC already issued an apology. Just a product of lazy scriptwriting without doing some basic research. I can understand the reaction of our countrymen who are not in the medical field.
However, as a medical professional we all know how hard it is to practice as "foreign-grad" in the US. Nowadays, you have to take USMLE Step 1, then Step 2CK (Clinical Knowledge), then Step 2CS(clinical skills where you have to impress them with your communication/interview skills), then Step 3. You have to score higher than American grads just to get an interview. Then after finishing your residency you have to pass the Board certification (diplomate) for your specialty (which you have to retake every 7-10 years). Then if you want to practice there you have to deal with the criminal background checks required by Homeland Security to get a working visa. So, I don't know how in the world a doctor with "fake" or substandard diploma from any school. Even among our so-called diploma mills, only the best among them could overcome these hurdles.
Sure, there are Caucasian Americans who went overseas out of necessity (very competitive to get in US med schools) but from what I read from their experience, it's mostly positive and they even appreciate the rigor of our clinical experience.
That's the reason why a lot of our medical colleagues are blase' about the comments. Plus some are just too busy to get rankled by some comment that is unreal.

psychogoddess said...

PIAN: We are NOT AN INFERIOR RACE. And if we're really serious about not taking **** from anybody; there are bigger, more serious issues that need our attention more than an American TV show.

Doc Bautista, I really appreciate your take on this issue. I think that the DH story has been overblown. The dialogue was tasteless and racist but I don't think that's reason enough for MalacaƱang to be involved. Let's move on people.

pian said...

It’s good that you say we’re not an inferior race but we do have an inferiority complex which, coupled with a crippled economy, makes us inferior which makes it necessary for the state to demand an apology so they would learn not to mess with Filipinos anymore. For those who think that statement was not prejudicial to Filipinos because it involves a white doctor, the dialogue implied that our med schools are inferior, and this in turn implies that Filipino doctors are inferior which makes it a racist statement. While there are more serious issues to consider other than this, you can deal with both at the same time.

BetanMD said...

I agree from one of the comments by MD. It doesn't really matter much for the established Doctor such as yourself. Gastroenterologist too is high demand. I just finished residency and doing internal medicine primary practice. I still don't know if there will be an affect to my practice. Maybe nothing. lets us say I did nothing. the Philippines did nothing. Nobody did nothing. Life goes on. Another Joke...regarding Filipino Doctors comes along (why wouldn't its but natural. I have not heard of other race being denigrated lately anyways. 23 million viewers topping sunday primetime Then what...it becomes stereotype. Far fetch? Chain letters are made this way.
I am sad that you view this indifferently, Your statement does show a lot of confidence in yourself...but ofcourse you have credentials to prove it. But maybe a little to much.
Anyway, we must agree that the statement was derogatory (If you don't feel that way...then you are the less than 1% probably.
If one is true then...Don't bother with it??. Don't follow the mob?. First of all, I had my own opinion regarding this, before the "mob" came about. I agree with the petition and asking for an apology. The rest...questionable. We both know how strong media can be (thats why advertisers are paying millions
Want to see the latest trend, just watch the disney channel - or the rise in drinking and driving (because of the stars)
Dr. Bautista...I feel that you should have been part to take a stand...you even ran for senator (I asked my relatives to vote for you)
I know that at times a good leader is someone who would have a level mind...in times when emotions are high...to think clearly and logically. Thats Good Judgement. probably this is the time for that after the apology by the network has been issued. Lets stop it there. But sadly, you just stayed on the sidelines. I know you may not run anymore for senate. I can't blame you. (My Parents also ran for congress at one time). You feel disgusted, maybe even angry that Filipinos still don't know how to vote correctly and smartly. You lost a lot of money ( I know - coz we have been there twice). But this should not stop you from supporting and helping out as much as you can...there is still a ray of hope...(My parents are still active, using there resources to help guide our fellow filipinos, to protect their rights, also not thinking of running anymore, they are the True Heroes for me...because they can see HOPE. I don't know if this will change your mind, unlikely from the tone of your statements...but see, if everyone did just like you did (thinking of himself only)...poor filipinos...will have no hope at all...

See at least in my conscience, I know I did something in my own little way. I did not sit at the sidelines and let people trample us Filipino doctors credibility...Because in Principle what they did was wrong. and being quite about it is admitting guilt (general perception anyways)

Lets say someone that used to work in your office( you fired him, and he is angry)...spread a rumor in the newspaper that you were Gay and committed acts of lewd behavior towards your patient while they were under anesthesia...what would you do? Would you just turn your back? or would you sue him for defamation? I don't think so...Your credibility and honor was at stake...

BetanMD said...

Dr. Bautista, unfortunately When I read the blog "who's Desperate" I had an impression that you were in Oklahoma for good. after posting and reading further your blogs...please remove the following statement
"I know you may not run anymore for senate. I can't blame you. (My Parents also ran for congress at one time). You feel disgusted, maybe even angry that Filipinos still don't know how to vote correctly and smartly. You lost a lot of money ( I know - coz we have been there twice). But this should not stop you from supporting and helping out as much as you can...there is still a ray of hope...(My parents are still active, using there resources to help guide our fellow filipinos, to protect their rights, also not thinking of running anymore, they are the True Heroes for me...because they can see HOPE. I don't know if this will change your mind, unlikely from the tone of your statements...but see, if everyone did just like you did (thinking of himself only)...poor filipinos...will have no hope at all..."

All else remains the same though

Publius said...

Thank goodness for the relatively more sober comments on this blog.

I have to say, this whole Desperate Housewives affair has officially crossed over into the ridiculous and the surreal. Scholarships to Pinoys/Fil-Ams to prove ABC's sincerity? Does this mean that PInoy forgiveness can be bought (probably)? Broadcast an apology for three straight episodes? Smacks of kulang-sa-pansin to me. Indeed, people like Kevin Nadal and those groups meeting with the ABC executives seem to be milking their proverbial 15 minutes, intoxicated with the fleeting fame and power this issue has allowed them to imbibe. Enough already.

Like most of those who posted comments on this blog, I tend to believe that we ought not to be too defensive about this throw-away line. While I don't condone media taking cheap shots at minorities, neither do I believe this embarrassing display of histrionics is appropriate. Not all minorities are so thin-skinned and wear their persecution complexes on their sleeves. Why can't Pinoys be as cool, confident, and secure as we believe ourselves to be substantial and successful? While the protestors feel vindicated with the concessions they think they're wresting from ABC, they might in fact be playing into a savvy media strategy. And in the end, ABC may be getting the last laugh, since they win no matter what. No such thing as bad publicity, after all.

What I fear is that whatever well-deserved sympathy Pinoys may have enjoyed initially will soon turn into justifiable derision. Will the shrill and strident protesters now train their collective ire on Jon Stewart for calling Cory Aquino a slut? Then the joke will be on them, and they'll know first-hand what it really means to be ridiculed.

pian said...

The differences in opinions for this should not in any way change your perception that Dr. Martin Bautista cares for the country as much as you do. I believe they will run again.

pian said...

Then I would suggest to start a petition online as what Mr. Nadal did.

MegaMom said...

Hi Brod!
Thanks for your level-headed take. I signed the petition and I'm glad the offending statement will be taken out of future reproductions of the episode. However, some people are going way overboard in their reaction (boycotting Disney?). If we want to be perceived as professional and respectable, our demands should also be such.
I totally agree with you that the only way to completely dispel such negative imagery is how we carry out our work, our profession, our calling.
Mabuhay ka!

Aileen Apolinario-Dualan

KC said...

Hi doc! It's my first time to post a comment here even if I'm reading your blog for quite some time now. :)

Although it the comment is indeed hurtful, I thought that maybe Teri Hatcher referred to the famous Recto diploma stalls.

I have a similar entry in my blog too. I totally agree with you in just giving the care that is due to the patient instead on wallowing on the comment.

Kudos to you. You didn't let a bad joke ruin your day. God bless! =)

rmacapobre said...

the line was racist. period.


Anonymous said...

...hello young people : accidentally got into this blog as I am now into "interneting " as prescribed by a doctor ( for depression/mental whatever ) who possibly belongs to your group of doctors ...I am a Filipino, 82 years of age...and I have this experience to share for whatever the lesoon is...so I stayed in the United States when real discrimination was stll official....anyway when I came back to Manila still young, sensitive and hurting, , sitting in a bar stool at Gloria's, past a couple of gin and tonic...I saw and invited a white American to a drink..and after a friendly exchange of small talk....told him " you know when I was in the States , I acted like the non citizen of another country that I was : well behaved, obedient to the rules of the place... with a slight condescending smile , the American replied: " that's the way it should be done...when in Rome do like the Romans."...backed up by gin and tonic and a 38 cal. in hand... I stood up and said " this Roman says you get the h....out of here in one minute."...Sheepishly he left. .....Now 55 years after I am not too happy about it.
Peace is a more lasting feeling..
...old non citizen

BetanMD said...

Dr. Bautista...Please remove all my entry...in respect to you....sorry I may have gotten a bit carried away...

Publius said...

Thought that most of the participants in this blog might enjoy Conrado de Quiros's column in the October 8 issue of the Inquirer, as his views hew closely to the opinions expressed in this forum. Check out - http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view_article.php?article_id=93112