By Raychel Ria C. Agramon
“SAFEGUARD provides superior and excellent skin germ protection.”
This line from a popular TV commercial is one of the most familiar endorsements of the soap brand Safeguard. And the lady delivering this line is one of the most consistent endorsers of Safeguard: the two-time president of the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists (PAMET) Agnes Medenilla, a Thomasian.
For Medenilla, a UST Medical Technology (MedTech) alumna, such consistency in promoting the same product merely mirrors her commitment to the Thomasian virtue of veritas (truth). She said that the effectiveness of Safeguard is a scientific fact.
According to her, Safeguard and Pamet have been working hand-in-hand for 17 years now, promoting projects concerning health and hygiene, such as Iwas Sakit, Alagang Nanay, a national cleanliness campaign to help “safeguard” the youth from infectious germs.
“The joint project is meant to help the community improve with regard to their health and lifestyle,” Medenilla said.
Seven years before she first held the reins of Pamet from 2001 to 2002, she was already recognized by the association as its Most Outstanding Medical Technologist. She again became president in 2005 to 2006.
Aside from tie-ups with Safeguard, her projects as Pamet president included the development of international relations and the continuing professional education of medical technologists according to international standards.
“We want our fellow medical technologists to be front-runners in their field. We want them to develop their personality as well,” she said.
Medenilla herself is continuing her medical education as she is currently taking a doctoral degree in Biology at the UST Graduate School.
Currently a member of the board of directors of the Asian Association for Medical Laboratory Scientists, and first vice-president of the Asean Association of Medical Technologists, Medenilla earned her college degree when MedTech was a fairly new profession in the Philippines.
“MedTech then was something that you always read and heard about,” she said.
Even as a student, Medenilla enjoyed her laboratory subjects, looking at the minute specimens under her microscope.
One time, her junior class had to view a fecal specimen for their Parahistology subject. While others were repulsed, Medenilla maintained her composure. In fact, she was very curious.
“I was amused. I told myself, ‘So that is how feces look like under the microscope’,” she said.
With the training and education she received from UST, Medenilla showed that she was a medical technologist of high—and even global—caliber.
After graduating in 1962, Medenilla worked as a medical technologist from 1963 to 1964 for the Chemistry Section of the Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey, and as rotating medical technologist for the Crippled Children’s Hospital in Newark, New Jersey from 1964 to 1965.
All her hard work in the US earned her a spot in the prestigious American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), a registry of medical technologists. She considers passing the ASCP exam her most fulfilling accomplishment.
“It was difficult. Out of the five examinees from our hospital, only two of us passed,” Medenilla recalled.
Returning to the Philippines a year later, Medenilla worked as a medical technologist for two private clinics. In 1967, she became the section head of Automated Chemistries of the Department of Laboratories of the Makati Medical Center (MMC), where she became one of its pioneer medical technologists. Her staff and interns were mostly Thomasians.
“They (Thomasians) were more disciplined and had more finesse,” she observed.
In 1973, Medenilla became MMC’s Chief Medical Technologist and Administrative Officer in charge of the Department of Laboratories. As the hospital’s Laboratory head, one of her concerns was modernizing and updating diagnostic exams.
“You really have to be at par with international hospitals. Part of that is setting up new tests,” she explained.
Even as an administrator, Medenilla continued working on different diagnostic exams. In fact, performing tests relieved her from the stress of her daily workload.
“I immediately forgot about my administrative problems when I worked on one of the microscopes,” she said.
Outside the lab
In 1980, Medenilla became a member of the Board of Medical Technology of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). She also co-authored a handbook and three papers on diabetes mellitus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Medenilla has received much recognition for her contributions in Med Tech. In 1983, she was listed in UST’s Talaang Pandangal, a listing of prominent Thomasians. A year later, she received the Outstanding Thomasian Award and the Conrado Potenciano Award for Pharmacology and Oncology from the UST Alumni Association. In 1995, she was recognized by the PRC as the Most Outstanding Professional in MedTech.
At present, Medenilla is a faculty member of the Department of Medical Technology of the University of Perpetual Help in Las Piñas, where she enjoys preparing future medical technologists.
Although Medenilla is saddened that the public hardly appreciates the contributions of medical technologists to health service, she continues to introduce to the youth the interesting discipline of MedTech. However, she stressed that an aspiring medical technologist should have a strong stomach.
“If you are a MedTech, you must not be easily freaked out by gross things like feces,” Medenilla said.
As for her fellow professional phlebotomists, Medenilla has three pieces of advice: honesty, accuracy, and integrity.