Medical graduates urged to serve as ‘deputized doctors’ during COVID-19 pandemic

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2020 07:48 PM

Medical graduates urged to serve as ‘deputized doctors’ during COVID-19 pandemic 1
A health worker at the Ospital ng Sampaloc on April 30, 2020. Jeff Canoy, ABS-BN News

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday repeated its call for medical graduates to help in handling non-COVID-19 as the country’s health professionals focus on the pandemic.

“For those to be assigned in primary health care facilities i.e. health centers, rural health units, province/city health offices, clinics, or temporary isolation facilities, the medical graduates are expected to treat and manage cases to help reduce the burden in hospitals already overwhelmed by COVID-19,” the DOH said in a statement.

The department reiterated that the medical graduates will be “a last resort, when all efforts to recruit or hire licensed physician have been exhausted.”

The DOH released its Department Memorandum No. 2020-0169 last Saturday. This allows medical graduates to engage in limited practice of medicine as deputized physicians, despite not being registered with the Professional Regulation Commission. 

“In these extraordinary times, extraordinary measures are exacted. We look forward to these medical graduates who will support this war against COVID-19,” Health Undersecretary Health Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said in the statement.

The memorandum is in line with Republic Act (R.A.) 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” and R.A. 2382 or the “Medical Act of 1959,” which allows “medical graduates who have completed the first four years of medical course, or graduates of medicine” to be “given limited authorization by the Secretary of Health to render services during epidemics or national emergencies whenever the services of duly registered physicians are not available.”

Although they won’t be asked to handle COVID-19 patients, the deputized doctors are expected to help in the early detection of cases by helping assess and refer patients using the DOH algorithm.

The DOH said the deputized physicians will not be assigned to critical care areas, triage or frontline areas, emergency room and other departments directly managing COVID-19 cases.

“The special authorization for limited practice of medicine may be granted to Filipino graduates of a Medical Education Program who have completed the one-year Post-Graduate Internship Program within two years prior to March 17, 2020 or the declaration of expanded community quarantine. The graduate must have not taken the Physician Licensure Examination (PLE) for three (3) times or more prior to his application for deputization,” the DOH said.

A deputized physician will receive a monthly salary of P38,463, which includes a 20% premium. He or she will also receive a hazard allowance of P500 per day, a Special Risk Allowance, board and lodging, and other benefits provided under R.A. 11469 and other policies.

The DOH assured the public that they will receive appropriate personal protective equipment and orientation on protocols for patient care.

“The limited authority to practice of the deputized physicians will be valid until the termination of the national health emergency or until prematurely revoked or canceled. They will be working under the supervision of a licensed physician who will be accountable for their actions,” the DOH said.