Humanities, Medicine, and What It Made Me See

APR 20


By: Katelyn Kanapi
BS Psychology, Minor in French (summa cum laude)
Valedictorian, Greenhills Campus
OBMC SHS Batch 2018

Is there a place for the humanities in the field of medicine? If you had asked me before I entered Senior High School, I would have said, "No." Medicine belonged to the realm of the cold, hard sciences. Surgical technologies were developing at breakneck speed, healthcare systems were modernizing before our eyes, and doctors, who belonged at the forefront of it all, stood resplendent in their white coats and stethoscopes.

It was not until Senior High School (SHS) that my viewpoints were challenged and changed. I owe much of this to the OBMC SHS curriculum and the dignity with which its General Academic Strand Program regards the humanities and social sciences.

My two-year stay at SHS pushed me to move beyond the familiar. From the heavily conceptual environment of Junior High School, there came a transition into a more grounded, analytic approach to learning. Thus, as we studied the state of Philippine politics in the classroom, we were equally challenged to go out into marginalized communities; to encounter firsthand the plights and perspectives of our people.

It was here that my eyes opened to the inequities of the local healthcare system. Our fellow Filipinos barely make enough to survive every day, much less buy medicine to ease their pain. Public hospitals remain outdated and understaffed; surgical technology is available only to a select few, and doctors are not always in pristine white coats—more often, they exhibit tired wrinkles and sleep-deprived eyes.

Suddenly, I questioned my childlike construction of the medical field. Medicine was neither cold nor impersonal; it was warm and wounded. Men and women sought help from a system that was ill-equipped to respond, despite the best efforts of its workers. I wanted to help.

And so, armed with the desire to contribute to society and the analytical research skills we learned in SHS, I earned my diploma in BS Psychology at the Ateneo de Manila University. I am currently pursuing a medical degree at the UERM College of Medicine.

Now if you ask me if the humanities have a place in the medical field, I would say that one could not exist without the other. What is the core of medicine if not helping someone at their most vulnerable? A physician may be at the forefront of technological development, but their heart belongs always amongst the people.

I know challenges await as I move ahead. Yet, a sense of civic responsibility, born out of my time in Senior High School and nurtured in college, spurs me onward—unblinking, unflinching, without question or doubt.