Department of Orthopedics, Davao Medical Center: Answering the call to excellence in orthopedic training and services in Mindanao

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Just recently, The Department of Orthopedics at Davao Medical Center went under the sharp scrutiny of the esteemed Philippine Board of Orthopedics (PBO), for the department’s yearly accreditation as an orthopedic training institution. This process of evaluation and accreditation have very important goals namely;

  1. to determine if the institution is capable of training aspiring orthopedic surgeons in the area or
  2. was it successful in training current orthopedic residents and render orthopedic service to the region that is at at par with the board’s standards and the orthopedic profession in general.

Being a newbie to this institution (and as an attending at that) it was also an opportune moment for me know my DMC Orthopedics family and learn how I maybe of help to them in the light of the staff’s main thrusts and the boards recommendations . No, I am not with the board, but I am happy I will benefit from their efforts and recommendations.

The “board” is probably the best “external evaluator” of orthopedic training institutions within the national orthopedic community. Not only because the board are the ones who accredit training programs but because they are also in the best position to oobjectively assess our training program and give recommendations for its improvement. The board consist of elected and well respected orthopedic fellows from different training institutions around the country. Their collective experience simply equate to the “third eye” for any orthopedic training program.

The Department of Orthopedics is probably one of the best department here in Davao Medical Center, if we base our assessment on the latest P.I.A.D. conducted by the DMC administration. PIAD was a patient satisfaction survey of all the DMC departments, in terms of services, facilities, personnel among others. The Department passed this evaluation with flying colors (100% mostly) and garnered probably one of the highest “grade” according to patients surveyed, if not the highest. This form of an “internal” evaluation has boosted the moral of the Orthopedic (consultants and residents), medical and allied medical support staff, and gave us greater resolve to improve more of our services and training capabilities.

There is no doubt that in the DMC orthopedic community, talents and innovative ideas abound. The department graduates has been 100% passers on the Orthopedic Diplomate Exams since it started. It’s current residents also landing in the top of their batches in the in service training exams. On the national level, DMC ortho is probably at par with other training institutions, if not better. And we are just beginning to think globally and interact with foreign orthopedic community.

But like any government training institution, challenges to DMC Orthopedics’ existence and goals are enormous if not astronomic. We are perpetually lacking in funds to support our services, maintain our facilities and equipments, conduct innovative research and support healthcare delivery to our patients. This is where the staff’s devotion to providing top notch service, despite odds, become utterly heroic. One third of the consultant staff are voluntary, meaning they don’t have plantilla items and thus don’t get salaries despite seeing patients and breaking brains to render services. Our resident staff is dwindling every year (might be again, brain drain or pocket drain whichever applies) and the MD to patient ratio is bloating, which I peg somewhere between 1:50. Our allied medical support staff like the nurses so often changes we barely have time to train a permanent younger one.

Despite these odds, our department shines. Keeps us, the staff, smiling at the end of a tiring day. Thanks to the unwavering devotion of both the orthopedic and the non orthopedic support staff. We have so many goals to achieve, and so many ways of achieving it, but only one thing in mind(as our chairman will say)- give top notch patient care and train top notch residents. . We see a future in all these hardships. Maybe, the Orthopedics Department is after all, bound for greater heights.

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (