DOH allows fresh medical graduates to engage in 'limited practice' vs COVID-19

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, May 18, said that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has signed Department Order 2020-0169, allowing medical graduates, who haven't taken the licensure examination for physicians yet, to engage in "limited practice" during the fight against COVID-19. 

"Ang atin pong special authorization na ito ay ating nilabas para i-tap ang ating medical graduates na may sapat na kakayanan upang punan ang mga areas na nabakante ng ating regular healthcare workers nang atin silang i-pullout para sa COVID-19," DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing.

(This special authorization that we came up is for our medical graduates who have the capacity to fill in the areas vacated by our regular healthcare workers who were pulled out for the fight against COVID-19.)

Vergeire said that this way healthcare workers could focus on responding to the COVID-19 outbreak while making sure that non-coronavirus patients would not be neglected. 

Vergeire, however, said that these medical graduates or deputized physicians would be the last resort when all efforts to hire licensed physicians have been exhausted.

"Ang suporta po na ibibigay nila ay mahalaga upang masiguro natin na tuloy-tuloy ang ating COVID-19 services sa gitna ng pandemyang ito," Vergeire said.

(The support they will be giving is important in making sure that our response to COVID-19 is unhampered during this pandemic.)

According to the DOH, the deputized physicians should not be assigned to critical areas such as COVID-19 triage or frontline areas, emergency rooms, or in other areas directly managing coronavirus patients. 

They, however, are expected to "assist in the early detection of COVID-19 cases, facilitate approriate referrals by following standard algorithms provided by the DOH, and treat cases that can be adequately managed at the health facilities."

Qualifications, renumeration

According to the DOH, the special authorization for limited practice of medicine may be granted to Filipino graduates of a Medical Education Program and those who have completed the one-year post-graduate internship within two years before the enhanced community quarantine was declared on March 17.

"The graduate must have not taken the Physician Licensure Examination for 3 times or more prior to his application for deputization," the DOH said. 

If hired, a deputized physician will receive a monthly salary of P38,463.60 (inclusive of 20% premium), COVID-19 hazard allowance of P500 per day, Special Risk Allowance, accommodation, and other benefits provided under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The DOH also said that aside from appropriate personal protective equipment, proper orientation on protocols, safe and quality patient care, and other institutional policies will be provided to deputized physicians regularly.

"In these extraordinary times, extraordinary measures are exacted. We look forward to these medical graduates who will support this war against COVID-19," Vergeire said. 

As of Monday, a total of 2,314 health workers have been infected with coronavirus. There have bee 35 deaths and 938 recoveries reported. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.