They say that life starts at 40 but for Brod Brian Michael Icasas Cabral Φ1996B SE 2000-2001, it was rather a leap. Coming home from finishing a renowned program in Transplant Nephrology in the United States of America, he had nothing else to offer other than to be irresistible in his medical career. Brod Brian had the distinction of being one of the youngest doctors to become a Medical Director, and that of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City nonetheless. A Medical Director at the age of 41, the only other doctor who was younger than him and had the same position was his own mother.

With all these credentials it was really an honor for us younger brods to have given time to spend a sumptuous lunch with him. On our way to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City, we pictured The Director as the man in white coat over a dashing business attire, with an aura of authority, and a sense of formality. But there he was, Brod Brian, with the warmth we feel from our brothers. We were received by a brother in polo shirt, denim jeans, and sneakers who just finished his clinic. As our lunch progressed, we realized that the gravity of his success didn’t fully sink in before. The food was amazing but his stories were priceless. We learned that he was first and foremost an exemplar brother who prioritized nothing but the happiness of his brods, as he is also an exemplar in his field. He is The Director, the cool doctor in sneakers, and it is utmost inspiring for us to just say that he is our brother.

 

ON HIS ROAD TO SUCCESS

You think med school is hard. You always think that the current state that you’re in is the hardest thing ever but it just keeps on getting harder. It doesn’t get any easier. If it gets easier then you’re doing something wrong.

When asked how he got into Nephrology, he remarked that he was initially planning on pursuing Orthopedics instead of Internal Medicine. As he was ready to start in orthopedics, most of his batchmates decided to leave and took the Medical Licensing Examination (MLE) in the United States.   He jokingly points a finger to our fellow Brod, George Guntur Abanes Pujalte Φ1996B, who entered into The Most Venerable Fold along with him, saying that it was his friend’s influence that made him continue his career in Medicine in the United States. He explained that when moving to the US, it is very hard to get into residency if the field you chose was a surgical one. He had to make a decision whether he would stay in the Philippines and go to Surgery, or go to America and try to get into Internal Medicine. Eventually, he decided upon the latter. He ended up in Akron, Ohio, after getting a recommendation for him and his wife from Brods Arnel Anthony Sempio Bobadilla Φ1989B and Romeo Figueroa Esquivel, Jr. Φ1989B.

With that out of the way, how did he exactly end up in Nephrology? Brod Brian explained that most of his friends in America were Nephrologists. He even made an analogy with the Fraternity, saying that you would not even think of joining a Fraternity if you do not like the people. Aside from Nephrology, he also considered Critical Care as a potential specialty, citing again that those in the Critical Care Unit in Akron were also his good friends. One downside to Critical Care was that he would not be able to go back to the Philippines if he pushed through with it. Later on, he took up a subspecialty in Transplant Nephrology after finishing General Nephrology, which is contrary to what doctors in this field do in the Philippines. He went on by saying that it is assumed that once doctors in the Philippines have rotated in transplant, that would be enough to take care of transplant patients. However, transplant is a different specialty in Nephrology in the United States.

Brod Brian mentioned that he could have stayed in the United states after receiving an offer to stay. However, despite this and his coveted specialty, he still decided to return to the Philippines. In true Filipino fashion, he said that his family was the primary reason that he and his wife chose to come home.

“Actually…’di ko alam kung bakit ako [naging] Medical Director,” he said before we shared another bout of laughter. Brod Brian returned to the Philippines in 2009 as a Balik Scientist for DOH. He did some research on ultrasound-guided renal biopsy and also donated an ultrasound machine to PGH with his research grant.

In 2010, he was offered a position by St. Luke’s Medical Center to be the head of Nephrology. Three years after that, he became the head of medical education, bringing UpToDate into the hospital as well as putting up a library for residents and interns to study in. Two years later, he was promoted to the position of Assistant Medical Director. During this time, he took up a Master’s Degree in Medical Management in Carnegie Mellon University at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He mentioned that he could have taken up masters in Ateneo just like most people were doing at that time. However, he decided that he wanted to venture out into something more different.With that, he took online classes for the course, and every 6 months, he would fly to the United States for presentations that were needed as part of his requirements to graduate. This, and his drive to see St. Luke’s grow, paved the way for his eventual appointment as SVP & Head for Medical Practice and as the Medical Director of the hospital.

On how he manages his time, he said that right now, his focus is mostly on his work, his kids, and his family. Every time that was left over, he would spend it with his family. He explained that in having young kids, they become his priority more than himself. Later, he added, “You think med school is hard. You always think that the current state that you’re in is the hardest thing ever but it just keeps on getting harder. It doesn’t get any easier. If it gets easier then you’re doing something wrong.” These words only restate the fact that as members of the society, we must keep on challenging ourselves to do better on the aspect of restoring and maintaining human health while also keeping a holistic balance of our personal lives. Words that can be spoken so well by someone who is a paragon of excellence, leadership, and service to the community.

 

ON HIS LIFE IN THE FRATERNITY

Pero yun, yung sa akin ang bottomline lang talaga ay nag-eenjoy kayo.

“Alam mong inaalagaan ka ng frat. Maybe you don’t see it sometimes, but it actually happens. And then later on, aalagaan mo rin siya.” As the Superior Exemplar during the years 2000 to 2001, Brotherhood was something that he always valued the most. What he wanted the most for his brothers was for them to enjoy, and during their time that was all they wanted. He placed a premium value on enjoyment and having fun. He and his brothers did not mind what other people would say as long as they were happy. Eventually, he put up a new Pagkalma Park before he graduated, so that the brothers would have a better place to have a good time in, just like he wanted for them.

Even when he had gone to the United States to become a better doctor, the brods were still there for him. When he graduated, it was his brods who helped him through his time post-medical school. When it was known that he was going to apply in the United States for training, a lot of the brods reached out and gave him a helping hand. Some of those who helped him were brothers whom he spent some time with when he was a student, and some of them were brothers he had yet to meet at all. Even so, they all came together and took time out of their busy schedules just to put in a good word for him or give him advice. As he reminisced those good times, we could feel the thankfulness for his brothers evident in every word that he uttered.

As we were waiting for the bill, he told each of us “I’m proud of you guys, I really am, but I’d be proud of you nonetheless. Even if you didn’t do anything to anybody other than yourselves,” he told us with a warmth that can only be felt from a brother giving valuable advice to another. We all felt humbled that he, one of our Alumni, was telling us that. But, at the same time, the fact that we could call him our brother was enough to make our hearts swell with pride.

We can summarize the whole talk with this phrase by him which he reiterated several times, “Pero yun, yung sa akin ang bottomline lang talaga ay nag-eenjoy kayo.” A phrase that will surely guide our way to med school and frat life. With that, and the arrival of the bill which our brother had paid as a gesture of brotherhood, we went back inside to take a tour of the facility. And even if that bill was expensive on its own, nothing was more valuable than the words he shared with us, and the time we all spent together as brothers.

 

Established in August 1933 by the UP College of Medicine's best medical students, the PHI KAPPA MU (Fraternity of the College of Medicine) continues to uphold its tested tradition of Excellence, Leadership, Service and Brotherhood in the College, University and in our country.

Through the Fraternity's ideals and pillars, her Loyal Sons continue to lead, innovate and excel in the practice of medicine worldwide and in preserving the honor and integrity of the medical profession.

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