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A Reluctant Choice

"So what are you saying, we have no choice?" Dr. Irene Haas glared across the table at the chairman of the pathology department, Alex Morelli.

"You want to go over this again? We've discussed this for the past hour." Morelli threw his hands in the air and turned to face her, "What is your objection, Irene?"

"Look, I stated this from the beginning. I don't want any FMG's in our program. We can attract the best to our program, why do we have to go outside the country?"

Morelli pointed at the folder in front of him. "James has proven himself in Carter's lab. I spoke to Carter myself and you saw his evaluation. He'll be joining us in a few minutes. "

"You asked Carter to our residency meeting?"

"Only because I knew you would object to hiring Dr. Deetan."

"You know he got the position in Carter's lab because of his father's connections. Carter and his father both trained together in oncologic surgery in New York. Alex, he's only using this as a back door entry into a U.S. residency program. You know that! Everyone one of these foreign medical grads do this, they game the system." Haas was fuming. Didn't anyone else see what was happening? Didn't anyone else care that they were weakening the program? Certainly not Morelli. He was a coward. Couldn't even make a decision on his own, had to bring in outside help, the chief of surgery to back up his position. Haas was an attending for 15 years at Memorial. Her undergraduate pre-med studies were at Princeton and medical school and residency were at Harvard. By God, she would not have a foreigner sully her program's reputation.

"Calm down, Irene. I know we've had a run of bad years with resident recruiting, but every program is having problems filling their residency slots."

"I would rather not take any new residents than have to accept a foreign medical graduate."

"That's not fair, Irene, and you know it." Dr. Nomura shot back at her. "Some of the leading pathologists in this country are FMG's."

"Are any of them here?"


"Meaning with one exception about 15 years ago, we have never hired an FMG. We're one of the top pathology residency programs in the country. All of our faculty are American graduates. Most FMGs don't even bother applying to our program because they know they don't stand a chance. Why are we making an exception for this one?"

"I seem to recall that one exception is now chairman at Ohio."

"That doesn't prove anything. I can recount numerous disasters at other programs. Half of these residents can't even speak english and if they do, their accents are so bad, it wouldn't matter. What kind of name is this anyway, Deetan? It looks like a typo."

"That is an inappropriate statement, Irene!" Morelli moved to moderate the discussion.

"Is it? Do we even know about his medical school in the Philippines?"

Dr. Morelli opened another folder and positioned several papers in front of Dr. Haas. "The University of the Philippines is their top medical school. James was in the top 5% of his class. As for his name, it's Chinese. If you took the time to read his application, you would know he's a Chinese-Filipino. Apparently, it is an important sub-culture there. Most of them speak a dialect called Fukien. His father is a prominent oncologic surgeon in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, and as you heard, he trained with George Carter in New York."

"Irene, if you substituted an American medical school for the University of the Philippines, I don't think you would have any hesitation with his application."

"Masao, excuse me, we are not creating hypothetical situations. The fact is we are looking at a foreign medical graduate."

"Sorry I'm late." George Carter appeared, resplendent in a long white coat covering his surgical greens. His sandy brown hair streaked with gray peeked through his surgical cap. "Case ran over."

"Perfect timing! George, you know everyone here. We're making our final decisions for the first year pathology residents for next year. James Deetan is our last choice. He worked in your lab for two years. What say you?"

"James Deetan should be your first choice. Fine young man, good mind, hard worker, responsible."

"I see you got some good abstracts from him during those two years."

"Very well received. I even had him operating on some of my dogs, good hands, just like his dad. I tried to convince him to enter our surgery program. I think I put him on the spot but I was serious. He is committed to being a pathologist." Carter smiles and looks around the table. "Guess he prefers to deal with his patients in small pieces. He'll be a fine addition to your program. Alex, he's a keeper."

"If the chief of surgery gives his thumbs up, that's good enough for me. Thanks for coming, George." Any questions for Dr. Carter?" Morelli's swift glance around the room invited no inquiries.

"We are accepting Dr. James Deetan as a first year resident in July. All agreed?" Nods were acknowledged but all eyes turned to Haas. They're destroying this program, everything I've worked for, to put this together. This can't be happening. They're all conspiring against me.

Haas stared at Morelli with an expressionless face. "Fine." Before he could comment, she disappeared from the conference room.

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