Daughter takes on father’s spirit

Dr. Ethel Briand, center, with her mother Maypol Briand to her left, Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal and Minister Bruce Bilimon to her right, and Ministry of Health staff and family members after the ceremony. Photo: Eve Burns.

“I solemnly pledge to dedicate my life to the service of humanity. The health and well-being of my patient will be my first consideration.”

Surrounded by Health Minister Bruce Bilimon, Majuro hospital doctors and staff, and family, Dr. Ethel Briand, the daughter of late Dr. Kennar Briand, read out the Hippocratic oath, becoming the youngest woman physician of RMI. The small but warm ceremony was held at the Doctors’ Lounge of Majuro hospital recently.

The glorious moment mixed with some sadness as late Dr. Briand could not be there to witness the achievement of his daughter. “I remember growing up as a kid, I didn’t understand his profession, I didn’t like it when he went to work,” said Ethel in an emotional tribute to her father. “He would leave us to care for his patients. Now that I follow in his footsteps, I understand.”

It was through the work of Dr. Kennar a decade ago that the ministry began recruiting younger Marshallese to health careers and in collaboration with Taiwan, launched the medical training program that has seen a steady stream of doctors receive their training and return home to work.

Back in 2017, when the first RMI medical student graduated from the Taiwan medical program, Dr. Kennar pioneered the medical intern training program with Taiwan Health Center and Shuang Ho Hospital.

“Dr. Briand had the vision that RMI needed to have Marshallese doctors,” said Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal at Friday’s event. “I would like to thank everybody, especially Taiwan for helping us have this great program, sending our doctors to get trained and no cost on them. That’s really an amazing thing.”

Thanks to Dr. Kennar’s vision, RMI now has six Marshallese doctors who trained in Taiwan.
“One of the longest profession training periods before you get your degree is in the field of medicine — it’s always long,” Bilimon said of the Ethel’s training in Taiwan, that was followed by a year-long internship program.

Medical Chief of Staff Dr. Robert Maddison and Deputy Secretary Mailynn Langilur presented a certificate certifying Ethel has successfully completed her medical internship training program at Majuro hospital.

She is now a fully licensed doctor by the RMI Medical Licensing Board. Deputy Secretary Francine Wase-Jacklick and Doctor Bong Villaroya presented her license.

Niedenthal commented on performing the Hippocratic Oath with Dr. Ethel.
“The greatest honor I have is reading the Hippocratic Oath,” he said. “It is an oath created 2,500 years ago. That’s 500 years before the birth of Christ and it’s a tradition that has carried over all this time.”

The oath, he added, “It’s a marriage, you’re marrying somebody to humanity and it’s a very noble pledge.”

After swearing her allegiance to the oath, Ethel then donned her white doctor’s coat with Dr. Aina Garstang and Taiwan Health Center Director Nora Wei assisting.


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