Dr. Pauline Jose Takes Each Day As it Comes

Dr. Jose has had many experiences that have led her to a place of compassion and care in her career.

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Medical Education Director of LA-based nonprofit Proactive Health Labs (pH), Dr. Pauline Jose shares the importance of connecting with each and every patient that comes into her office. 

Thank you so much for your time! I know you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what early experiences brought you to choosing a career in the medical profession?

I was born and raised in the Philippines and though my family was well-off I still saw the suffering that many of my countrymen experienced. There was no health insurance back then and because of that many people did not go to the doctor unless they were feeling unwell. Some people did not go even when not feeling well because providing a roof and food for their family are more important than one’s health. I felt that I wanted to make a difference by probably giving free medical care or even going further and taking part in policy making so more people can get care. I thought being a physician will help me get to that path.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you in your career as a doctor?

I have to think about what is the most interesting thing that happened to me in my medical career. There have been so many but I guess the most interesting so far, the one that I like talking about to my kids and people here in America is when I was on call in the ER as a PGY1 in the suburbs in the Philippines. There was a big storm the night before that broke down the windows of the room next to ours and we had to take in our friends from living there. We spent the night together, all 12 of us in a huge room with 6 beds listening to the howling winds and the hard rain. The next day was the most unforgettable day in my career. There was no power and hardly any water and the ER was full of casualties from the storm. I remember not knowing what to write in my chief complaint as the patients said the roof fell on them scraping up their scalp, or the wall cut their leg and others. We sutured so many lacerations and went to the OR for the ripped up scalp and reduced fractures without changing our gloves and just using alcohol to sanitize our hands/gloves. We did not have disposable gloves and we used to autoclave our gloves then and there was no power. Out of the hundreds that we saw that day only one came back with a not so favorable outcome. It was a little girl whose leg lacerated full thickness and us suturing it back did not take. We had to re-open the sutures and let it heal on it’s own and it did! We were so proud of that day as it was like a war zone and aside from this little girl, everyone got well without any infections

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting out on your career? What lesson did you learn from that?

The funniest mistake I made early on in my career was when I was interviewing a man who was hard of hearing. I was so immature and I thought it would be funny to roll up my paper and use it as a conduit from my mouth to his ear. I thought it was funny but he did not and it did not work either. He still could not hear me. It was a mistake as it was unkind and had no purpose. It was just my 24 year old me being immature to a patient who needed my help. It was a mistake and something I never did again as I am more compassionate than that! It was stupid.

To #DareToCare means to survive and thrive in today’s medical world. How do you take care of yourself? What’s the routine you must do to thrive every day?

Something I have always done in my whole career to help me take care of myself is pray. I did not eat well in residency but who did? I ate when I could but there was constant stress and even as an attending and in my private practice I pray before the day starts, when there is a difficult patient or case and at the end to thank God for the day that has passed. Of course I now walk a lot more and even run at times both for my physical and mental health.

I write a series of letters to my God-daughter in my latest book. In that same vein, what are 5 things you would tell your younger self? 

Five things I would tell my younger self are : Take each day as it comes and don’t worry about the next. Take care of one patient at a time even if you have 10 new admissions! Take care of each patient as if they were your own family. Take breaks, a lot of them! Last but not least, pray to the higher power as He is there and prayers work!

How can medical professionals reclaim heart-based healing amid pandemic, political, and other pressures?

Amid a pandemic and political pressures, medical professionals can continue to practice heart based healing by always starting the day meditating and thinking about what made them go to medical school and what made them want to help others’ feel better both mentally and physically. Then after we have talked to our patients and examined them and given the orders to help them, we need to touch them and look them in the eye and let them know we are doing our best for them and that they will get through this even if we are not sure. I believe this will help them get better sooner as they know we are treating them from our hearts and not just our minds.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your work as a healthcare professional? Can you explain?

I did not read any books or listened to any podcasts. What helped me continue to be compassionate and caring is my daily prayers and call for help from Jesus the first doctor. I always ask Him to channel his healing touch through me.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence in the healthcare community. If you could inspire other doctors and nurses to bring change to affect the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Said another way, what difference do you see needs to be made for our collective future?

As a physician I know that we are influential people. We are highly educated and usually know more than just the subject of medicine. During a pandemic when there are conflicting views about treatments and vaccines it is important to keep ourselves in the know on the latest and correct information. I refuse to be categorized according to my political party. This is about getting the world healed and eradicating this virus that has killed millions and has not stopped. It is important to work together no matter where we are from and who we voted. I will form a nonpartisan medical information group that would try to educate people on how the vaccine works and why it is important to take them. This group will also discuss all medications that help and those that they should stay away from. The department of health both in the respective counties and states are overwhelmed and we will be there to help them with this group. This is what I am doing now in my own little way – by being available to anyone who has a question.

How can people connect with you?

I am on social media and linked in and Doximity.

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