My name is April Hipolito, currently a pediatrician with my own private practice.
My mentor, friend, and mother during residency was Dra Marcie Atienza.
I started my pediatric residency at SLMC QC last 2011 when they were going through a revamp. My batchmates and I came from different medical schools all over the country; none from St Luke’s. We heard rumors of who might be our new training officer, but nothing was confirmed. When we finally met Dra Atienza, we heard stories about her being “terror”– strict, intelligent, and demanding. We were all obviously intimidated. And scared.
We were right to feel all those things.
Residency is the hardest thing I ever had to endure in my life. Long nights, endless patients, thick books– day in and day out. It was harder because I was in an unfamiliar institution and surrounded by new people. I had no idea what I was doing when I started.
As expected, we made mistakes. However Dra A whipped everyone in shape– we were kept on our toes, studying, making rounds, trying to keep up with new journals and clinical studies. I cannot count how many times I wanted to throw in the towel, but I persevered under her scrutinizing and eagle eyes.
One duty night, I do not remember the exact circumstances (probably because I was tired out of my mind), I was told to watch her patient. I was literally in the room with an asthmatic baby, getting vital signs and listening to breath sounds every 30mins. I initially felt resentful for what I was doing, but I kept at it. All night long. I updated her the morning after that I believed that we could remove the oxygen canula of the patient. She took me up on my suggestion… And a lot more suggestions since then.
You see, that was the turning point of our relationship– wherein we knew we could trust each other. I understood that she wanted me to learn the hard way, because medicine is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be hard because we are in the business of saving lives, children’s lives at that. So, I accepted the challenge. I stepped up my game and focused on developing my clinical eye, my bedside manner, and my coping skills.
I was thrown countless challenges, but Dra always made me feel appreciated and loved. I knew she wanted me to become the best pediatrician I could be because I had the potential of helping so many kids during my career and teaching my juniors as well. The trials I faced served to make me stronger– for this is not a job for the weak. All the cases that I saw during residency made me trust my instincts as a clinician.
But, she strived to teach us balance as well. She is a loving wife and a proud mother, a teacher at heart, and an avid tennis player. Seriously, I don’t know how she does it all. She SHOWED me (all of us) that I could have a successful career, a strong advocacy, and a beautiful family life– it CAN be done.
She is my mentor in every sense of the word. I learned so much from her and it goes beyond the books. She saw to it that I reached my full potential as a clinician. She also made sure that I grew as a person. She always showed a mother’s care and concern for us. I respected and loved her for it. I went through fire, but now I am steel.
I think she was called “terror” because she is intimidating at first glance. Who will not be intimidated by a strong-willed, highly intelligent, beautiful and confident woman? She is formidable and demands the best from you. Our culture, sadly, still tends to show preference for men. A man who displays those traits will be respected as a boss. I say, here’s to more women like that!
To me, Dra A is an absolutely wonderful person. She is extremely poised, yet also warm and funny. She is very caring towards her patients and students. She nurtures the people around her and is joy to be around.
I am very blessed to have had that kind of model during a crazy time in my life. I know she continues to be amazing everyday.