10 things to consider in choosing a medical residency in the Philippines

Medical or surgical? Public or Private? City or Province? Toxic or benign? There are so many things to consider in finding a residency in the Philippines.

  1. Specialty. What specialty do you want? Nowadays, there is a growing list of choices for specialties. Your experiences in clerkship and internship, as well as your future trajectories, may form your choice. Choose what you are willing to learn about for the rest of your life. Choose what fascinates you to hours on end. However, be realistic with your expectations of the lifestyle and the competitiveness of the position.
  2. Public vs. Private Hospital. This depends on whether you are aiming for a medical or surgical residency. A surgical residency will require plenty of hands on practice. For this reason, the most competitive surgical specialties are in public hospitals where plenty of cases abound. You will also be more likely to handle cases on your own. However, the setting is less than ideal due to lack of financial resources of most patients. In contrast, a private hospital will demonstrate something closer to the ideal medical management. Transplants, cosmetic surgery, stem cell and immunoglobulin therapy and the like would usually be seen in a private hospital. If you are looking at a medically oriented specialty (such as Internal Medicine, Pediatrics), a private hospital is a good choice.
  3. Location and Logistics. Is it easy to commute or drive there? Will you be able to find nearby lodging? Is the place safe? Will you be settling down nearby or practicing in that hospital at the end of your residency? It will make your life more comfortable to consider your surroundings and your proximity to key locations.
  4. Salary and Perks. Let’s face it, money matters. In general, public hospitals give higher pay at a range of Php 35,000 to 45,000.00, while private hospitals give Php 13,000 to Php 30,000.00 per month. It is important to research on what salary you are willing to live on for the next few years. Some residencies also offer more meals than others. While this may seem trivial, it is a huge help in cutting down costs over the long run.
  5. Rights to practice. Some private hospitals give their residents the right to practice in their hospital after graduation. This will be a great earning opportunity after your specialty boards. Each hospital will have its own terms, so it is important to research so you can prepare accordingly.
  6. Societal classes of patients. If you are interested in getting the most number of cases, you can go for public hospitals where patients will tend to have a variety of clinical symptoms. However, if your market at the end of your specialty would be private paying patients, you will want to go for a private hospital that offers you a chance to interact with your future patients. You run the risk of getting fewer cases and a lower salary in a private hospital, but you will have started creating your network after your residency.
  7. Accreditation. An accredited program means that it is honored by their respective societies. Examples are the PPS, PCS, PCP, POGS, and others. A program that is not accredited, or only has a low level of accreditation, will have a more difficult time in getting their graduates to be recognized as full-fledged specialists. Going into an accredited program will save you a lot of time later, as the requirements are less stringent compared to an unaccredited program.
  8. Learning Opportunities. The best consultants in the country are the ones who have established their practice, and whose patients love them for their empathy, their knowledge and their skill. Look up the consultants of the department you are going into, because you will be learning from them over the next few years. Also, some hospitals are known for their specialties. Check the grapevine on which hospitals are the best in their specialties – you will learn from the top consultants there.
  9. Fellowship programs. It is easier to get into a fellowship program once you have done residency in that hospital. You might want to research on the available fellowship programs, and if the fellowship program pays (in the Philippines, not all fellowships pay their fellows).
  10. Toxicity. Toxicity is relative but is a reality. Check the number of work hours, the requirements in each year level, the number of duty days, the number of patients you need to see per day, and the number of co-residents. Take what you are willing to go through over the long haul. The best would be a balance of seeing a hefty amount of patients while still being able to review for your examinations. With this in mind, it would be ideal to take a residency with clerks and/or interns to “share” the load.

Still confused? Just keep applying to as many residencies as you can. If it comes to having to choose between one or the other, make sure you do your research instead of entering without knowing what you are getting into.

Interested in finding your ideal residency in the Philippines? Or are you a residency program looking for applicants?

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