Dr. Manuel Batlle
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 by Frank Shortt
The odyssey of a young man with aspirations of being a physician can sometimes be arduous and rocky. Such has been the journey of Manuel Batlle.

Manuel was born in California and grew up in the same.. I met him in Milpitas, California when he was of the age to enter the Armed Forces of the USA. We used to walk together talking of deep things pertaining to this life and the afterlife.

Manuel was a very astute student during his educational years in California. He was always one who would be attentive to instruction and would apply what he had learned to his life. This led him to join the U.S. Navy in the aviation section where he remained seven years. During his stay in the Navy he journeyed to several foreign ports, including Afghanistan and the Middle East where he became acquainted with their ways and made several lasting friendships because of his calm, agreeable nature. He was also stationed in Hawaii and Florida during his sojourn in the military.

After Manuel's discharge from the U.S. Navy, he decided he would like to try the medical field as a physician. Because of the financial aspect of college he decided to go to Dominican Republic to do his studies as a doctor. Even having the G.I. bill to aid him he knew that his dollars would go much farther in Dominican. So to D.R. he went and finished all the subject requirements for becoming a physician. After he finished his studies, he was required to do an internship there, which he did. Manuel soon learned that being a physician in Dominican Republic required his being under the throes of the reigning political party at the time. After several years of practice in Dominican, he decided to come to the U.S. to venture out and try to find work as a physician.

Soon as Manuel arrived in the U.S. he found out that his degrees in Dominican were not considered ample to finding work here. He would be required to take several difficult tests, then after passing them, he would be required to have an internship of at least one year to obtain a license to practice medicine in the U.S. After passing all these tests, he found out that he would need to apply for an internship in the U.S. This led to several months of applying and waiting for an opening. He was finally able to gain an internship in a hospital in Puerto Rico which is a U.S. Territory. This seemed like a good idea as he was fluent in Spanish and English.

Manuel did not know that this would be one of the greatest trials he had ever encountered on his road to becoming a doctor. Had he known beforehand all the trials he would face he might have thought twice about going to Puerto Rico! Soon after he arrived there, a devastating Hurricane, Irma, passed over part of the island. He had his baptism by fire as he was called upon to be on call 24/7 in case things got worse. And two weeks later, things got worse, in the person of Hurricane Maria. This one hit most of the island leaving devastation in its path.

It has been reported that Hurricane Maria left as many as 1000 deaths as she raged across the island. The scale of Maria's destruction caused as much as $94 billion in damage. Puerto Rico could ill afford this terrible setback because of already being billions of dollars in debt. The storm left thousands of families without homes and destroyed some communities entirely. It will probably take years for the island to recover from the effects of Maria. For months, most families and businesses remained without power, cell phone service was limited, and most of all, potable water, food, fuel, and medicine was in very short supply. For some there is a daily reality of accessing these essentials. The power failure in Puerto Rico due to Maria was one of the greatest blackouts in U.S. history. Manuel found himself smack dab in the middle of all this trying to help supply dwindling medicine for the sick and wounded. All this was added to the fact that he was the 'new kid on the block' and was required to be on call 24/7 once again. Manuel never refused, not once, to go when he was called. This would lead later to a great surprise!

As noted earlier, life in a Puerto Rico hospital was not easy for Manuel. Being 'the new kid on the block' and not being from Puerto Rico did not help matters. He was required to do a lot of 'grunt' work as he plodded from day to day in the arduous task of completing his requirements for practicing medicine in the U.S. He took all the jobs patiently, biding his time, and looking forward to a new life in less rigorous environments. The day finally came when his internship came to a close. (He had already accomplished this in Dominican Republic!) Manuel approached the auditorium with anticipation, yet reluctantly, as he knew not what to expect. What a surprise it was when he was named 'Intern of the year' at the hospital, and was accompanied to the celebration by a surprise visit from his mother, and his sister who is also a doctor in Dominican Republic. Manuel's fiancee' Carla also attended the ceremonies.

Manuel is now in Orlando Florida, where he recently arrived, and will soon be taking the exam which will allow him to practice Medicine in the U.S. His good friend Glenn has agreed to give him a place to live and study quietly for his final exam. It seems fitting that he now resides in the Royal Estates area of Orlando. Manuel has written several articles for the Spectator and will probably be submitting others as he gets settled in to his new surroundings.
Congratulations, Manuel, on a job well done!
Intern of the Year
Congratulations Dr. Manuel
Dr. Manuel Batlle
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