Monthly Archives: December 2014

Choices

Closed Sign by Artur84

Common signs seen during holidays… except in many private clinics and most hospitals. Illustration by Artur84/Freedigitalphotos.net

I have since deactivated my social media accounts – including that in WordPress – except for Google Plus, but that’s only because I play video games in Android and to get some freebies, the user would need to have a particular account. I do not post anything anymore, but I will try to continue writing for the White Coat Chronicles as much as I could.

The last two weeks of the year is quite a haven for many people. Of course, students do not really feel it because sometimes their schools take their Christmas break as early as the 16th of December. December 24th and 25th are holidays because of Christmas Eve and Christmas, respectively; December 30th is Rizal Day, and December 31st and January 1st are holidays because of New Year’s Eve (or “Bank Holiday”) and New Year’s Day. For 2014 however, there were a couple of additional special holidays included: December 26th and January 2nd were sandwiched between the holidays and the weekends. The only “unlucky” day was December 29th, but several people have already filed their leaves on that day. Honestly speaking, it would not be too bold to say that most of those who actually went to work on the 29th only did so to hang out and chat with their coworkers. Including the 29th, that would make a 12-day vacation for most of us.

During my social media days, I would often encounter posts by doctors during long holidays feeling bad about not being able to take a vacation during this time at all. Holidays are just another day for them to go to their clinics and see patients. One clever physician even said that diseases do not recognize holidays and so doctors could not go on holidays as well. It is also not uncommon to read a post by a young physician during this time where he or she would say something about feeling sorry for him/herself about going to the clinic or hospital while everyone else gets to enjoy the break to be with their families and loved ones. There would be those who would post about patients who only go to the emergency room to get a medical certificate so that he or she could take the day or the night off work.The lamentations would go on, and the doctors would say that they would continue to be persecuted for taxes and they would have face patients who are too drunk and/or too stupid to understand that their medical conditions do not go on vacation and so drinking heavily, eating too much, or partying too hard could still take its toll on their bodies. Someone said that unlike employees, doctors do not get a 13th month pay or a Christmas bonus. Doctors also could not go on paid vacation or sick leaves, and it is so unfair to them, especially since their work involves saving lives and making people well enough to return to work.

Reading these posts somewhat evoke an ambiguous feeling for me. On one hand, I do understand the difficulty of the practice –  how the principle of “no work, no pay” very much applies to them. But this also applies to other contractual employees. There is no hazard pay, no insurance coverage, and no other benefit. They only get their daily payment with the taxes deducted as per the law. The difference perhaps is the salary: contractual employees usually receive only the minimum or slightly above the minimum wage per month while physicians definitely earn something more.

While it is true that doctors do not receive particular bonuses as much as employees, they are not confined to a fixed amount of salary per month. Employees receive a specific payment depending on their position in the company. Physicians, on the other hand, depend on the number of patients that they see in a day to determine the amount of money they take home. Specialists under health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are paid a fixed amount per consultation, while general practitioners earn a little less than that. Those who are not under HMOs can charge however much they wanted. Those who have a contract with clinics are paid a fixed amount of salary per day, but the contract only binds them to a particular length of time (usually about four hours a day) and they are allowed to take additional work depending on their schedule. While some may be allowed to take a second job by their employers, most employees are bound to work for a particular company due to the possibility of conflict of interest.

Employees are also tasked to work only at particular times of the day, and most are required to work 40 hours a week. The most usual shift is the 8-to-5 shift, with a one-hour break in between and another 15-minute break sometime in the morning or in the afternoon. There are also those who are in shifting duties (6am to 2pm; 2pm to 10pm; and 10pm to 6am, or their variations). The work is usually Mondays to Fridays or Tuesdays to Saturdays. Most physicians are able to determine the length of time and the day/s that they can hold their clinics.

Working on a holiday is not just a physician’s obligation. Nurses, medical technologists, police, firefighters, security personnel, and several key employees of certain establishments also need to go to work to ensure that peace and order is maintained and that workplace operations would continue to run smoothly by the time everybody returns to work. These people, like physicians, are also selfless souls who make sure that the world continues to turn and that there would be those who would care and give a damn in case something goes wrong. Also, like physicians, they do receive additional benefits: for special holidays, there is a 30% additional payment and for special holidays, they receive double payment. Of course, depending on the contract, some doctors receive only 30% additional payment whether it is a special or a regular holiday. Still, it points out the fact that doctors are not the only persons who need to work during the holidays.

Do not get me wrong: I admire those physicians who work hard everyday to ensure that they can provide for themselves and their families, but this admiration is just the same as that I feel for any hardworking person who takes on any type of job – whether that person is in an office, in the streets, or in the sewers. As long as it is an honest job, I look up to that person even if their salary is significantly lower than that of a company CEO or even if their job involves literally getting dirty to be able to do it properly.

The thing is, we all make choices: there are those who choose to work in the corporate setting, and there are those who chose to go to work on holidays. There is no need to grumble and be grumpy just because one “needs” to still get up early when everybody else is still at bed at eight in the morning. We all have our roles and tasks, and most of the time we choose where and how we are going to be. If the holiday cheer bothers that physician – or anybody else who had been tasked to work on these supposed-to-be-vacation days – then there is the choice to just walk out and join the other side.

Happy New Year, folks!

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