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Siriraj honours female doctor for first time

Siriraj Hospital's Faculty of Medicine has named Dr Pattira Tangrattanasuwan - a doctor based in the southern border province of Pattani - as the 2008 Outstanding Rural Doctor.

This is the first time that a woman has been given this honour.

Since 1973, Siriraj Hospital has been honouring devoted rural doctors every year so they can prove to be role models for other doctors and medical students. To qualify, doctors should have worked in rural areas for at least five years, and the selection committee gets first-hand information at the workplace of short-listed candidates.

"Pattira is very dedicated and courageous," the faculty's dean Dr Teerawat Kulthanan said at a press conference yesterday.

She has been serving as director of the Sai Buri Crown Prince Hospital in Pattani province.

For 2008, 16 doctors were nominated, and 14 shortlisted.

"I am so proud and honoured," Pattira said after receiving the award. "This honour does not belong to me alone, but to everyone at my hospital and Sai Buri community".

She said without support from her team and the Sai Buri community, she would have not enjoyed such a successful career.

Pattira graduated from Prince of Songkhla University in 1992, and worked at several places after graduating. However, she said, she enjoys working at the Sai Buri hospital the most.

"I have been the hospital's director for eight years already," Pattira said. "And I've never thought of moving."

Even though the hospital is located in a violence-plagued zone, Pattira intends to stay put.

"I must admit that frequent violent incidents around here have scared me sometimes, but they have also helped me become more mindful and careful," she said.

The doctor said she timed her fieldtrips in consultations with the locals, and realising that the turmoil has been affecting people's mental health, Pattira has also established a counselling centre.

 "We also have a team that visits the seriously affected," she said.

Pattira, who was born in Songkhla, said that though her family was concerned about her safety, they did not pressure her to leave because they knew she was happy.

As the 2008 Outstanding Rural Doctor, Pattira will receive a plaque of honour and Bt100,000 in cash.

She will also receive Bt170,000 from other donors.

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