Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Surgeons Do Not Cry by Ting Tiongco-Medical School in Manila in 1975

Surgeons Do Not Cry by Ting Tiongco (2008, Kindle Edition, 348 KB)

Surgeons Do Not Cry by Ting Tiongco, M.D.  is a collection of short essays about his  years in the 1970s as a medical student at the University of the Philippines and his time as an intern at the Philippines General Hospital.   I found this to be a very informative, moving, insightful and at times very funny book.

One of the things Tiongco talks about a lot is the fact that most of the medical students are from well off families and are going to medical school so they can work in the USA.   The students do their practice work at the Philippines General Hospital.   The PGH is a public hospital which means one can be admitted even if you cannot pay.   There even were in the 1970s a number of "professional patients" who lived long term in the hospital as they got food and shelter there that they might not have gotten anywhere else.

Surgeons Do Not Cry has a lot to say about class stratification in the Philippines.   Most of the doctors were sent to gain experience by working at medical facilities in the poorest parts of Manila.  Most of the doctors had never seen anything like these areas in their lives and could not wait to get out.

I was surprised to learn that many doctors at PGH carried a gun in their bags to protect themselves from the family members of patients that died.   Even the author admits to carrying a 45 at one time.

In PGH if someone needs blood, the interns would often be the ones to give  blood or seek blood among their friends.   I really liked it when the author described how the interns started a blood drive at Ateneo College (very elite school, all male in the 1970s at the time of the story).   The men at the school were almost all afraid to give blood.   Out of thousands of students at Ateneo, only a handful gave blood.   The interns then went next door to an all female school, Mariam College, (know as Maryknoll college in those days) and almost all of the students gave  blood.   I told this story to my youngest daughter who attends Mariam College Elementary School and she loved the story.  Some of  the women who gave blood even ended up married to interns!

Surgeons Do Not Cry by Ting Tiongco will give you a good idea what it was like to go to medical school in Manila in the 1970s and what medical care was like for the poor.   A lot of the medical students came from families that spoke only English and looked down on medical students that spoke Tagalog at home.

Surgeons Do Not Cry is very well written in a relaxed conversational style.  Dr. Tiongco lives and practices in Davao in the Philippines.   I think almost anyone who reads this book will like it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent a complementary Kindle edition of this book by Flipside Publishing.   Flipside publishing is the E-book publisher for The University of Philippines Press and other quality publishers.   The E book was beautifully done

Here is a Link to the Kindle Edition

Mel u


Nivedita Barve said...

Just surfed to your blog and was immediately captivated by the collage of author photos on the header :)
Very nice review, it reminded me of a book I had read decades back 'The Healing Knife' by George Sava.
Best wishes!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

This sounds like a very worthwhile read. I've read a few books about the experiences of doctors in the UK, so it would make an interesting contrast.

Mel u said...

Nivedita Barve-thanks so much for following me-I have returned the follow and look forward to reading your future posts

Sam (Tiny Library)-I suspect medical school in the UK is very different from medical school in Manila in the 1970s-thanks so much for your visit