Life after The Board Exams: Regulatory Requirements For Setting Up An Ophthalmology Practice

by Jeffrey Naz B. Racoma, MD, DPBO

Finally. After 3 years of ophthalmology residency, months of preparing for the written and oral exams, the newest 4 letters at the end of your name, D.P.B.O. shining brightly, you’ve made it to the finish line of training. Some may still pursue a subspecialty, but some may finally embark on finally entering private practice. The dream has now come to a reality, no more duties, gone are the weekly or monthly reports and presentations, and it’s now time to buckle down and begin the career you have long aspired for. You start scouting for your clinic space, crowd source on what kind of private practice you should pursue. Similar to the beginning of residency, you bask in the joy of looking over equipment and surgical toys you plan on using in your clinic. You look for furniture, designs to make your space very modern and appealing to your patients. Suddenly, reality hits you. With each and every step that you take, there apparently are requirements that you have to fulfill or pass, just before you sit down and treat your patients. You then realize that there are regulatory requirements that you have to comply with, at the beginning of your journey.

First things first. You have gone through a grueling trip down this medical field of your choice, and with it, you need to keep track of what you have. These are trophies, your achievements, but these are more importantly, proof of what you have been able to acquire. You must have copies of your med school diploma, your PRC certificate and updated license, your residency training certificate, and your PBO certificate as a diplomate in ophthalmology. Next up are must haves to add on to your accolades. You must then become a member of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), as well as join a local society, of which you have to pay your dues. Aside from that, one will have to be affiliated with Philhealth, not just as a member, but this time as an accredited professional healthcare provider. Most hospitals, clinics, and HMO’s will require this, and will also be helpful in defraying the costs of your patients. Once you have gotten all these, original or certified true copies, compile them and start working on your curriculum vitae. This is your application to the world, showing who you are, and what you have armed yourself with, in pursuit of being an ophthalmologist. All of these will be used to apply at hospitals, stand alone clinics, and health maintenance organizations (HMO’s).

Now comes the nitty gritty, the need to haves that you should add on to your armamentarium. On a yearly basis, you have to troop to your local city hall, and acquire a cedula (community tax certificate) and your PTR (professional tax receipt). These usually need to be applied for at the beginning of the calendar year. On an annual basis, you will have to apply for your cedula, PTR, and PMA accreditation. Your PRC license and Philhealth accreditation usually have a three (3) year validity.

Once you have all these, you have to comply with one of two certainties in life. I choose not to talk about our end, but one must face the truth that taxes are a part of life. You must then troop to your Revenue District Office where you plan to practice, and register as a private practitioner. If you still do not have one, you have to apply for a Tax Identification Number (TIN), which you will use for tax purposes. Fill up form 0605 and 1901, accompanied with your birth certificate (and marriage certificate if married). Form 1906 is needed to apply for invoices and receipts, and have the authority to print receipts you will issue to your patients. Just a quick and friendly reminder that your annual taxes have to be filed annually, during the month of April, aside from paying your monthly and quarterly taxes. I suggest getting an accountant, once your practice becomes busy, you might not be able to keep track of your transactions, best to leave it to the experts if you can.

If you plan to set up a clinic on your own, you will probably have to employ individuals that can help with the workflow, such as a clinic secretary, nurse, or ophthalmic technician. Compensation may be directly related to workload and experience, but just a reminder, the current daily minimum wage as of July 2017, according to the Department of Labor and Employment National Wages and Productivity Commission is at P454.00 in the National Capital Region (NCR), but will vary in other parts of the country. As an employer, these individuals must comply with the Labor Code, and the forefront of this, are the mandatory compliance with the Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth Insurance Plan, and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund). Other mandatory incentives of the Labor Code include a 13th month pay, and overtime pay, a holiday pay, service incentive leave with compensation, meal and rest periods, and sick leaves. Others that you may add, but are not necessarily required are Christmas bonuses, midyear bonuses, and vacation leaves.

These are just some of the things that you will probably need prior to launching your career in ophthalmology. You may also want to ask around, your seniors, consultants, and fellow doctors, for advice on what you may need to get the ball rolling. Every journey starts with a single step, and one must take the necessary steps to comply with regulatory commissions, in order for us to pursue our passion. I wish you good luck, and may you have a blessed and fulfilling ophthalmology practice.

About The Author

Dr. Jeffrey Racoma currently practices at the Makati Medical Center, where he also took his ophthalmology residency. He is a graduate of the University Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.