Louisville Medicine Volume 63, Issue 9 - Page 31

DR. WHO? MEMBER SPOTLIGHT JOSELITO BALATBAT, MD Aaron Burch A s a practicing obstetric anesthesiologist, Dr. Joselito Balatbat has helped bring life to Louisville for decades. Though he grew up a continent away, he feels at home now in Kentucky. to become a physician like her.” Born in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, Dr. Balatbat was raised in a Catholic household with his father, Eduardo, mother, Angelina, and younger brother, Jeffrey. Growing up, he spent much of his time playing with his brother and reading about history, as some of his favorite topics were the Roman Empire and the World Wars. While in Manila, Dr. Balatbat attended the University of Santo Tomas for eight years beginning with pre-med courses in 1981. At first, anesthesiology didn’t seem like his niche in medicine; instead, he was leaning toward pediatrics. Staying inside to read was a good thing as Dr. Balatbat grew up in a tumultuous time for the Philippines. When he was eight years old, martial law was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos to quell political unrest. It would take nearly a decade before the law was lifted. “I wanted to be a neonatologist. Intubation and resuscitation always scared me. But I had seen how composed and relaxed anesthesiologists were when helping patients. I told myself that the way of addressing my fear was to go to a residency where they do it all the time.” “Manila was a simple city to live in. Martial law didn’t seem that bad as a child. I believe the crime rate significantly dropped. But, the unfavorable part was that human rights were abused. The government controlled the people and there was no more freedom to speak or freedom of the press,” Dr. Balatbat explained. Although the state of the country was in flux, it didn’t often come home to the Balatbats. Instead, the boys grew up in the dental office where their mother and father both worked. Although his parents wanted young Joselito to follow in their footsteps, Dr. Balatbat would choose to bring his medical experience to America instead. After graduating in 1989 and completing an internship in general medicine, he officially chose to pursue anesthesia and entered three years of training in the Philippines. “I became very familiar with the practice of dentistry but I wasn’t that interested in becoming a dentist. I wanted to be more independent,” Dr. Balatbat explained. “My aunt, Erlinda, is a successful anesthesiologist and I was quite impressed by what she was doing. She actually influenced me to go into medical school and I chose It was there he met his wife-to-be, Grace Maria, who was studying in the same residency. They fell in love and were married during a small ceremony in Manila. But the couple wouldn’t stay long. Dr. Balatbat wanted to pursue a larger career in the United States. By chance, he applied for an obstetric anesthesia fellowship at the University of Louisville. He was accepted by the former chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, Dr. Benjamin Rigor, and the couple moved to America in 1995. Although he had visited California a few times with his wife to see her family, this would be a substantial change. Fortunately, in the Philippines, many medical courses are taught in English. (continued on page 30) Editor’s Note: Welcome to Louisville Medicine’s member spotlight section, Dr. Who? In the interest of simply getting to know each other as a society of colleagues, we’ll be highlighting random GLMS physicians on a regular basis. If you would like to recommend any GLMS physician member to the Editorial Board for this section, please e-mail aaron.burch@glms.org or call him at 736-6338. FEBRUARY 2016 29