Summer Immersion in Siasi
|the Island of Siasi with Bud Siasi on the background|
Last summer I spent more than a week in Siasi, a smaller island in Sulu. I went there not to spend a wonderful vacation with my family, but to do something bigger, something greater: to conduct my first one-week community immersion!
As one of the Regionalization Program (RP) students in the college, we were required to return to our community every summer and conduct our own community immersions before the next school year begins. This is one of the requirements that we have to accomplish for us to be allowed to enroll for the next Learning Unit (or year level). And so, being one of the only two students (out of 160) representing ARMM in our batch, I chose Siasi, Sulu to be my immersion site for the next five years of my stay in Medschool (in shaa Allah), and perhaps until I become a licensed physician someday (Ameen).
Now, what did I do in my one-week stay in Siasi? I might not be able to tell all the things that I did in Siasi, so I will just include here my Schedule of activities during the immersion:
|The Siasi Rural health unit|
For one week, Alhamdulillah, I learned a lot of things that I never learned in the classroom. I was able to interact with the locals and learned directly from them what are the dominating concerns they have on their health. They were also eager to share what they know about diseases and medicine (especially traditional medicine) that I myself is fully unaware of. I visited the RHU everyday and see how the health workers do their job of serving the people. Through the FGDs (Focus-Group discussions) with the health workers and the community as well, I learned about the problems they face and how they try to solve and manage them. I was also fortunate to join one of the RHU and IPHO’s monthly community visits to Laminusa Island for the Malaria awareness program, where I observed and learned how hard it is to deliver health services in far-flung islands like Laminusa. Yes, the immersion lasted only for seven days, but what I learned in those seven days I spent in Siasi was worth more than a lifetime of my future career as a practicing physician someday: a doctor for the poor people in our community, for the Ummah, in shaa Allah!
This is indeed one of the main objectives of UPCM in creating RP: to let future health practitioners experience and appreciate the actual settings in the community. By then, they will realize the great need for great doctors in the community and in sha Allah they will aspire to fill in the vacant slots for “dedicated doctors serving the underserved” which is the sole vision of UPCM.
Until now, I will always remember what my field preceptor, Dr. Ejil A. Imlan said to me:
"The most important thing in serving the community is finding yourself LOVING what you are doing, putting your HEART in everything that you plan and do; all for the benefit of not just one person but the many... And always keeping in mind the VIPs in your profession: your patients who need you most..."
|Me and my future boss: Dr. Imlan|
Dr. Imlan is also the Municipal Health Officer of Siasi and one of the only three practicing doctors in the Municipality with a population of more than 80,000 people. (Imagine! That’s like one doctor for about every 27,000 people!)
|Interviewing some locals|
|The Task force Laminusa: Siasi-RHU Team, IPHO-Malaria awareness team, some volunteers and me during the Community visit to Laminusa island.|
|On our way to Laminusa island, Siasi.|
|Listening to locals during the FGD with Community|
on health behaviors and health-seeking pattern.
I am deeply thankful to our dean, Dr. Mejia, to my Adviser Dr. Abdullah, to the RPC and RSO family for properly preparing us before going out into the field, to my field preceptor Dr. Imlan, to Maam Nahla, To Maam Rose, to Hji. Satta Sampang for helping me in meeting the LGUs, to all of the Siasi-RHU Staff, to the Barangay kagawads and barangay health officers who helped me out, to my relatives in the community (hehe) and to all the locals in North Laud Siasi who welcomed me as a new member of their community (even just for a while) and for all the things that I learned in my one-week stay in Siasi.
In shaa Allah, in my second summer immersion next year I will return to Siasi and continue where I started. (How I hope by then, I would be able to invite some more friends and other Medical students to join me :) Maybe some of you would like to help me out there. Just inform me ahead of schedule, hehe.
Until our next immersion!