- Koh Samui
- Koh Tao
Dr Patiman Chanrak is a charming young man who was born in Had Yai in Southern Thailand, we had previously met him to have a medical check where we found ourselves explaining about our native country as Dr Pat loves to travel the world when he has time off. He has visited Germany, Austria, Norway, Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea, is visiting the UK next month and then France and Italy in December thanks to a French medical student he met at the hospital who had a broken finger!
After graduating from medical school at Prince of Songkhla University he worked in the hospital there for two years.
‘I was studying whilst working at the hospital at first then graduated so continued to work there but it came to a time when I wanted to leave. It was hard as I didn’t have much time to rest so I moved to Koh Samui and then Koh Phangan’.
Dr Pat began on Samui as that is where Bandon’s original main hospital is but he moved here in November 2015 when the Koh Phangan Bandon Hospital opened and is now the routine doctor here.
‘I can now say that I am a Koh Phanganist! It has been almost a year. The weather is good, the local people are nice, there’s very nice beaches and it is beautiful. After work I go to a bar and watch the sunset up high’.
What made you want to be a doctor?
The reason is because my Mum is a Pediatric nurse and I would go with her when I was little on her night shifts as my Father is a musician, a drummer so he would be out at night.
I saw the doctor’s life and my Mum's and I saw that the people in the hospital help a lot so I decided to study medicine, I wanted to help and I wanted to stay close to my Mum.
My Grandparents have been ill, my Grandmother had breast cancer and had to have both breasts removed so I thought that one day I could help people so they do not have to suffer like her. You study for six years to become a doctor in Thailand and it is hard work.
What do you do on a day to day basis?
I wake up at 7am to start work at 8am, on this island there is the high and the low season. In high season a lot of people will come in the morning, they will already be waiting at 8am.
More than 50% of cases are because of an accident, they will come to the emergency room and I will do stitches etc.
I talk to the patients about any medical problems and in low season it is more quiet. I would mostly be in the doctor’s room before but now we have two doctors so I am here in the ER.
At 5pm it is the end of the day but I may have a night shift so I will either stay here or go home and be on call to come in if needed. If I am not on a night shift then I go somewhere and listen to music.
What are some of the best things you have experienced as a doctor? Have you had something life changing?
There are a lot. I think the most important and one that excited me was a case where a guy was choking, he could not breathe, he was gripping his chest when he came here to ER.
I inserted the intubation blade, opened his mouth and trachea then used forceps to take out the food which was stuck and then he could breathe again so everybody was relieved.
The family thanked me a lot, I had goosebumps as I had not seen this kind of case since my time at University hospital as most here are accidents.
Motorbike accidents can be common here, do you get a lot?
A couple came in who were here for their honeymoon, they were not driving too fast but on the roads here there can be a lot of rocks and sand so it’s easy to flip.
Many people say they were not driving that fast but with the sand and rocks in the way it is a hazard and of course on the big hills to Haad Rin, even in the sunlight it unfortunately happens.
The main Bandon Hospital is on Samui so what do you offer here before someone would be sent there?
Samui has a surgeon and the doctors there are my professors so if I think that something is over my responsibility then I will send them there.
But most cases a general doctor like myself can deal with. Even with broken limbs we can wrap them and give painkillers, we do the initial management here.
We can always call and consult with the orthopedist and professors on Samui or send pictures for more advice. If we do send someone to Koh Samui Bandon then we either have the emergency speedboat or if it is not an emergency the normal ferry.
What are common things you treat here?
Following accidents it would be fevers, our country is tropical so travellers from Europe who do not get their vaccines can get this and it is common to get a fever in the jungle or water. Also dengue from mosquitoes and travellers diarrhea as people have never eaten the food here before.
People with any problem can come, sometimes people don’t know that they can come or if we can deal with things but don’t be embarrassed as we can deal with anything, even women’s issues which are common because of the weather and our pharmacist can always give medicines before needing admission to the hospital.
Is there anything you would tell travellers to be careful about?
This is an island so I would have to say it’s important to be careful of accidents at the beach or in the ocean. You can step on coral or rocks when you are barefoot which can cut your skin.
Also jellyfish, even if you are swimming in the net the jellyfish have be known to go in there so I have to say be careful.
The Full Moon Party is the main reason people come here but I would recommend to wear shoes not flip flops and also the fire rope is dangerous.
Alcohol is not the problem but there are drugs, people buy buckets and someone may of put something inside it so be careful!
Do you enjoy your job?
I can say yes, I enjoy it a lot. I can compare it with my old job in Songkhla. I love to communicate in another language which here is English. I get to do the job I love and meet people from other countries, I will ask them where to go in their country, we can help each other.
My German friend said I could stay with him when I went to Germany and so I did.
It is an island hospital so you can choose your holiday, we work Monday to Sunday but get one whole week off so I put them together and take two weeks at a time so I can travel. This is only with island hospitals not on the mainland.
Some people are drunk when they come to the hospital so they shout and yell so there are bad parts also.
Also I love my co-workers, all the nurses, at first I didn’t know as much for example I had never dealt with a jellyfish sting or sea urchins but they knew, taught me and now I know.
What are your hopes for the future?
My dream for the future is to go and live with my parents again in Had Yai but that will be when I am around 40 years old so for now whilst I have power and am young I will work in the hospital, work and travel.
This hospital gives me a lot of experiences and my parents are both happy, they both still work in the hospital. My Dad in the daytime is a technician for radiologists and my Mum is still a pediatric nurse and my Dad still drums at night.
Dr Pat is a wonderful young doctor who speaks English like a pro so you need not be afraid to go in to see him at Bandon Hospital for anything that may be concerning you, you’ll probably end up talking about places to travel as well as being put at ease, treated and helped by Dr Pat and the rest of the lovely staff there.