Ahmad Sampang ibnu Hajiri, MD

A Personal blog by a Tausug medical student (now a doctor!) from Sulu and the stories that inspired him.
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*PF = Professional fee

A patient's question that is hardest for me to answer is...

"Magkano po, doc?" (How much will I pay, doc?)

I remember back in PGH, whenever we tell them  "wala po. wala po kayong babayaran sa aming mga duktor." (Zero. You don't need to pay us anything at all). Their faces were  always left in awe and disbelief. Almost to say to us "weeeh? di ngaaa?"

But now, I am in an uncomfortable seat and I have to helplessly smile and direct them towards the nurse who in turn will lead them to the cashier. Waiving a PF is always an honorable act that we doctors would want to do. Especially to those we know are indigent and could use those money for other things like their medicine, or transportation back home. How I wish I could waive each and every PF for my patients. But I just can't. Doing it would be tantamount to suicide. Especially to young doctors who are still struggling in this messy world he just stepped in to. We are humans as well. We eat, we pay our bills, we get sick, we die.

This is real life and real talk. Yes, health and Medicine in general had been designed to be a "commodity" in this country. Those who have more will get more. And those who have less, are left with the choice of going to a government hospital and wait for hours just to be seen by a doctor... Or suffer the pain through the night. :( A sad truth we face every day. Sadly and depressingly so.

How I wish I was born in a country where I can heal a patient without them needing to ask me how much to pay. And without me looking at this job as a mere source of income, but rather as a way to serve those who need me most.

It's hard to be a doctor in this country if you think about your patients' pockets.
And it's harder to be a doctor who wouldn't.

Magkano nga ba ang serbisyo ko?
hai buhay.

The patient paid her “consultation fee” and started walking towards the exit door. And to my surprise, she looked back, smiled at me and said “Salamat dok!” (Thank you, doc)

Perhaps that is the only payment I was asking for. Something that no amount of money could ever buy.


Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah!
All praise is indeed to Allah alone!

I still can't believe that I am now a LICENSED DOCTOR! Seriously, to say that I am still in cloud nine, is an understatement!   As one mentor once told me: "You will be floating there for a year, at least!" And he was right!

Alhamdulillah, last September 22, 2017 the results of this year's Physician Licensure Exam was released and it was indeed one of the best news in my life I could ever ask for. I am now a duly licensed physician in this country. I now have the license to heal, to cure, to do surgery and to prescribe medicine. And with it comes the big responsibility of not harming my patients as well. I never felt how heavy this responsibility before until now.

Ma shaa Allah. This was a dream that I never once thought of having nor achieving when I was a child. (You see, I really wanted to become a Civil Engineer like my late father). Still, Alhamdulillah God gave me the opportunity to be one. I am truly grateful!

I have a lot to say... The enumerable names of people to thank for all these to become a reality... To my family (especially my Inah, my mom and my two sisters), friends, relatives, mentors, professors, those who supported me financially one way or the other, and of course to my patients who made me realize the importance of life. MAGSUKUL KANIYU KATAN! Thank you!

I am still balancing and trying to adapt to this new life a young doctor. I will try to post a more formal and better post one day haha. 


-Ahmad Sampang, MD

Emergency Room
Surgical Trauma Rotator

It was just another regular evening on a 24-hour duty at the Emergency Department (ED or ER, for most of us). I was one of the only two Trauma Interns on duty and was just taking a break from charting a very long list of patients--ranging from those who fell from stairs to those intoxicated madmen stabbing each other to death! It's a rare occasion for Trauma ER to have no patients in 3 hours time so I grabbed that opportunity to go out and buy a cold drink at the ER kiosk (it was around 1AM by the way). 

On my way back to our station in the Acute Care Unit (ACU), I could see the Triage was already in a mess. There were piles of stretcher-beds (with a patient of course) and hordes of their watchers waiting to be seen by our TO (triage officer). Where was the TO, you asked? I wouldn't be surprised to see her in the resuscitation bay (RB), well--resuscitating a patient. And I was not wrong: There was an on-going "double code" at the RB.

*Double code by the way means: having two "code blue" at the same time. One code blue is already exhausting and would require all the available health personnel to be present, to help out and do the ACLS, to save a patient whose heart suddenly stopped. Now multiply that to two and take the number of the personnel by half. That's one helluva job to do! Plus, it's that time of the year where we have no Clerks rotating in DEMS. So yeah. Bummer.

Internship ends in a few days (July 1 to be exact) and since March 22, we started the #Last100Days of Internship countdown. Those who are following my Instagram account would know that I have been posting random pics with the countdown numbers (see above photos). I tried my best to complete the 100 days but it was just so hard! haha.

And now, who would have thought that we are now down to the last 50 days! It happened so fast! I can't even believe that the ten months of internship--no, the FIVE YEARS in Medical School is about to end! SubhanaAllah! 

I do not even know what to feel right now. Should I be excited, because everything's about to end? Or should I be anxious and scared, because... well, because the daunting future that lies before me is certainly scary! (read: Board exams, being a full-pledged MD, too much expectations from everyone...)

Still, as I keep on recounting the remaining days of internship, I just can't help but look back... those enumerable experiences--both sweet and painful ones-- those irreplaceable learning we gained both in and outside the hospital... I can't even start to count them all. Ma shaa Allah! Indeed I am grateful to Allah for all the blessings I had while in UP-PGH... I may not be seeing this hospital for a few years after graduation, but I am sure I will always look back to those memories.

Enough drama.
Cheers for the last 50 days as a Medical Intern in UP-Philippine General Hospital! Let's make the most of it in sha Allah!

(follow me in IG: @ahmadhajiri to see the remaining 49 days countdown in PGH! :)

Salam Kasilasa!

-Ahmad ibnu Hajiri

PS. Ramadhan countdown is on the way as well! Alhamdulillah!

March 13, 2017
Internal Medicine Rotator

I was outside the hemodialysis (HD) room, watching some videos on Youtube while waiting for my patient’s HD to start. A few minutes after I seated myself on a vacant seat outside, a woman came near me. I recognized her the moment she approached, she’s my patient’s mother. I could see her eyes weary, tired and full of questions. It takes only a few seconds to recognize a soul in search of answers to her endless questions. And this one is a definite example.
“Doc,” she started meekly, “Doc, tapatin niyo po ako.”(Doc please tell me)

“Po? Ano po yun, maam?” I asked, my earphones already removed for me to focus on her every word.

“Doc, ano na po ba talaga ang kalagayan ng anak ko? Di na po ba siya gagaling? Mamamatay na po ba siya?” (Doc, what is the real condition of my child? Will he still get well? Will he die?) her voice shaking with fear, full of anxiety over what she might find out.

I asked her to sit down beside me and calm down. Then I inquired how much does she already know about her son’s condition. She told me about it. It was a devastating event for their family, especially for her. Ace*, her youngest son, was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 5 (CKD 5) last year at the very young age of 19. And now he would need to undergo dialysis at least 3 times a week. For the rest of his life. His condition is already a big shock to them, what more with the news of spending hundreds and thousands of pesos for his treatment. A few days before he was admitted, he developed edema on both feet, difficulty urinating, he started feeling weak and then had progressive difficulty breathing which prompted them to consult at PGH a month ago. They were admitted at PGH and it was then that he was diagnosed with CKD V. Hemodialysis was initiated and he started improving until he was discharged a a few weeks ago. They were advised on follow-up and to have Ace undergo dialysis in a nearby dialysis center at Bacoor. They had a hard time looking for a cheap HD center even when they use their PhilHealth benefits. And when they finally did find one and scheduled Ace for a dialysis, his symptoms started to recur, his body was failing again. It was then that they brought him back to PGH. 
I also learned that she was not around when the first event occurred, and it was Benjie* his second eldest son who told her everything about it.

“May sinabi lang po ang anak ko at di ko po naintindihan. Ang bata pa po ng anak ko, ba’t po siya nagkaganito?” (My son told me about it but I didn't understand. He is too young, why did he get this worse?)

Had it been a year or two ago that someone would ask me these questions, I might have been unable to answer that well. Gripped with nervousness and uncertainty of my answers, I might just humbly tell her how much I know and recommend that they talk to their doctor, the real one. Today, I will still be doing that: Answer what I know and tell them to ask their RIC (resident in charge) as well. But I am not that nervous anymore. I feel that I now have that responsibility as a member of the health team (at least, a part of it) weighing on me to tell her what her son’s condition is. And she as a mother, a close relative, at least have that right to know. And so I told her.

I told her about her son’s condition. I told her the little things I know: What CKD is, how it lead to that point, what are our options and that we are doing the best we can to help Ace. She had a few questions here and there, some I was able to answer and some I simply could not. She asked about what will happen to Ace now. And as painful as it may be for her, as much as I wanted to save her from that pain, I had to tell her the truth. It is her right to know, I told myself. I owe her at least that: to be honest to her, never to give her any false hopes. And so I did. I told her the painful truth.

There was a moment of silence between us...But no tears falling down. No weeps nor sobs, not even a whimper. All I could see were those sad weary eyes, deep in thought, trapped in an imaginary prison that I could never fathom to go in to. Perhaps her eyes were already tired of crying. Perhaps her heart had already known this fact, she simply needed someone to confirm it. And someone just did. And with a sudden sigh, she looked at me and slowly smiled.

“Salamat, Doc. Maraming salamat po.” (Thank you Doc. Thank you so much)

It was never easy to become a doctor. I am not yet one and I can already feel the weight of that responsibility. Had I known that it would be this heavy and painful...back when I was still deciding to take the NMAT... I might have reconsidered my choices. But Fate is not ours to simply decide on whenever we want it to be. It was Qadr. Predestined. It was Qadr that I am now here. It was Qadr that I met Ace and her mother, and the hundreds of patients I met, to teach me a lot of things. There is no turning back now. I no longer want to. I already faced a lot of battles wearing this hat and I have nothing in front of me but to push on. Fight on. Be the better physician I could be for the patients I will meet in the future.

Outside that same room, when Ace’s mother left me, I silently thanked Allah for this experience. And before I totally get lost in thought, the door opened and the HD nurse came out looking for me. 

"Sir," she said after recognizing me, "your patient's session is about to begin."

 I thanked her stood up. And then as if whispering to myself: “Another day. Just another regular day.”
*Their names were changed for security ad privacy reasons.

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just saying. -Dr. Ahmad