Desperate Housewives Episode on Some Med School in the Philippines

UPDATE: ‘Desperate Housewives’ apology over Philippines slur

[tag]Desperate Housewives[/tag]’ latest episode (the first episode of the 4th season) had Teri Hatcher’s character saying this: ““Okay, before going further, can I check these diplomas cause I would just like to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines.”

(This is the complete video of that scene)

I wonder if the writer meant it to be funny or what. Considering there are a large number of US-based doctors and nurses who are graduates of Philippine Medical Schools, then I think not. These Philippine Medical School graduates took up further training in the States. Before they can even practice in the US, our Filipino doctors called Foreign Medical Graduates have to take a USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exams) which consist of 3 parts to get into residency:

Part 1- Basic Subjects (can be taken in Philippines)
Part 2 CK – Clinical Knowledge (can be taken in Philippines)
Part 2 CS – Clinical Skills (to be taken in the US)

A lot of Filipino doctors migrate to the US and pass the same USMLE that US-educated doctors take. The fact that our Philipine-trained doctors pass the same examinations which requires a higher percentage score from them as foreign medical graduates proves that medical schools in the Philippines are just as good as any other medical school in the US.

I know there is more than just a USMLE to actually practice in the US. My youngest brother left for the USA in 1999 to train on Epilepsy and Sleeping Disorders in Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. To be accepted in a fellowship program requires rigid interview and review of the doctor’s qualification. My brother made it to the program complete with compensation and family relocation. After his training, my brother (due to immigration requirements) relocated to a suburb of Missouri because a neurologist had been unavailable for the past 3 years or so. So right now, my brother is the only neurologist serving 11 counties. The family practitioners there have been holding on to some patients that have not seen a neurologist for years. He is the same doctor who saved the life of another doctor who suffered a life-threatening stroke aboard a plane (take note, a US airline) two years ago— and diverted the plane to Okinawa.

Right…. America might have a lot of their own “qualified” medical graduates but where do they practice? In large cities where the practice is lucrative. Their own American Med graduates are reluctant to practice in this small town that my brother will practice for the next three years. And even if his contract expires, he will still choose to stay in a state where his medical services will be highly appreciated.

Left to right: My Fil-American cousin who studied in a Philippine Medical School now an Anesthesiologist and my brother, David, with a medical degree acquired also in the Philippines

So I don’t get the point of the scriptwriter. Pray tell me, what is wrong with being a graduate of some Med school in the Philippines yet qualified for the USMLE?

Just ignorance, perhaps? or desperate to be witty?

View other Discussions and Blog Entries:

1. Desperate Housewives message boards and another discussion here
2. Anti-Filipino Slur on Desperate Housewives?
3. Who’s Desperate? – written by a doctor who graduated from a med school in the Philippines but went to the US for internship, residency in Internal Medicine, fellowship in gastroenterology at the State University of New York, Brooklyn.
4. My Take on This Desperate Housewives Shenanigans and Desperate Housewives Shenanigans Part Deux by FeistyMomma
5. Filipino Americans demand for apology from ABC and Desperate Housewives Petition to ABC.

UPDATE: ‘Desperate Housewives’ apology over Philippines slur

ABC, owned by The Walt Disney Co., responded with a statement Wednesday. ABC said it was considering editing the episode.

“The producers of `Desperate Housewives’ and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere. There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines,” the statement said.

“As leaders in broadcast diversity, we are committed to presenting sensitive and respectful images of all communities featured in our programs,” it concluded.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • Emily

    I just think they wanted to be witty but ended up insulting. I actually watch Desperate Housewives for its funny scenes. I think they shouldn’t have added that line. The writer could have just said “some med school in….”

  • @Emily- Yes I think they were desperate to be witty. I don’t really find it that offensive though. Just thoughtless.

  • jannie

    We have the most compassionate doctors and nurses. Where did the scriptwriter get the idea that our doctors can’t be trusted?

  • I am also a fan of Desperate Housewives. I think the writer needed to do more research.

  • @jannie- I guess they see a lot of Filipino doctors. I really think they have no idea on the process of how our Filipino doctors get to practice in the states. If only they knew, then these writers would not have written such a thing.

    @mixednuts- Lack of research. I am wondering if there has been a malpractice suit against our graduates

  • It’s insulting, indeed. Maybe, this is the effect of the nursing board exam leak that happened last year, now they consider ALL medical practitioners from the Philippines unreliable?

  • @marhgil- I was thinking of that leak but didn’t these nurses re-take the exam? I guess the writers did not get to that part of the news when the scene was shot.

  • I didn’t find it offending or insulting, maybe just a tad annoying. That show pokes fun at all kinds of people. It’s inevitable for Filipinos to be the next target. Filipino doctors are among the best doctors in the US. My uncle’s a respected oncologist. I think that if he saw that episode he’d just laugh it off as a brainless joke.

  • @Andrew- right. I wouldn’t want to burst an artery over it. I blogged about it though just so SOME Americans are aware of the rigid requirements for our graduates to practice in the US.

  • The writer/s obviously did not do their homework. I think they were in “desperate” need of a witty punchline for that particular scene and well, targeted Philippine medical institutions. Desperate times call for desperate measures?

    Not too offensive, but yes, very thoughtless. Very characteristic of Desperate Housewives. 🙂

  • @AJ- haha true…desperate times call for desperate measures to be funny. Like Andrew said, it is just annoying. We know for a fact that our doctors are very reliable and compassionate.

  • Jess

    A few Caucasian Americans even study in our medical colleges because of the cheaper tuition or perhaps they didn’t make it in any US college. Basically, it was a feeble attempt to be funny.

  • @Jess- my Filipino-American first cousin (photo above) studied in the Philippines 24 years ago. Now he works in a hospital which he co-owns with other doctors.

  • I believe its neither. Its more of jealousy. They are threatened by the Filipino’s intelligence and dedication. These are factors they do not have. Just think of the many Asians not just Filipinos who excel in different fields. Who knows, the writer’s position might be under threat from a Filipino writer.

  • hmn, interesting. pero before we freak out at gumawa ng campaign to ban the desperate housewives show in the Philippines (like most extreme groups or individuals do pag nababalitang nalalait ang pinoy) eh let us look at the other side of the coin, baka merong experience yung writer sa isang no-good pinoy doctor.

    at saka we cannot deny the fact na merong gumagawa ng pekeng diploma sa pinas. the line may just be an example para siguruhin na hindi peke yung diploma.

    siyempre third world country tayo, kaya madalas gamitin sa patawa na actually eh nakaka-insulto.

    besides, meron naman talagang mga mediocre pinoy doctors na pinipili pang maging nurse mapunta lang sa US.

  • @Schumey- now that’s an angle I didn’t think of. I am really wondering what the writer was thinking of when he wrote that line.

    @Gloria- Precisely, there is no need to over react to this issue. The scriptwriter might have a reason and I am laying down some facts in this entry. However, with doctors, the fake diploma isn’t possible. Like I wrote in my entry, a lot of requirements are needed for medical doctors to practice or even train in the US.

  • let’s not be too hasty on banning or asking for someone’s head. let’s consider the fictionalized character. let’s think about what the show’s concept is all about. then let’s look at ourselves. fictionalized or not, how many times have we generalized Americans and other races? so i hope people could cool off their jets and think first.

  • @Dexie- true. I just thought the writer was extremely inaccurate in that sentence. Then again, it is accurate for “Susan” since she’s known to be a ditzy character.

  • midnight rainbow

    Well, I feel insulted because it is indeed a “desperate” attempt at being funny or witty – at the expense of our medical education. I’m actually more concerned about the rest of the 23 million viewers of that show worldwide who tend to make hasty conclusions rather than think and be more rationale about the whole issue.

  • Tatawanan ko nalang muna. Bukas pa ata ako magagalit.

  • @midnight radio – you have a point with the viewers watching the show. What if is some of these viewers think like “Susan”? Ignorant and dumb.

    @Benj- just think about it. No knee jerk reaction. My brother just emailed me and his reaction to it

    Unfortunately, the writer does not know that many americans go abroad in the Carribean, South America and Asia to take up medicine. Hence, the writer is downgrading the Philippine medical education, not just the Filipinos. The bad effect of this show will be to stereotype Filipino doctors as inferior to American trained physicians. Of course, that is not true.


  • Maris Villareal

    Some foreigners still think that Filipinos live in caves, or trees, I guess some foreigners, because they’re from a 1st world country can be ignorant of the progress that “3rd worlds” countries have made.

    It really isn’t insulting. Just annoying, and sad because no matter what happens, no one can really be saved from racial discrimination.

  • shie

    as a Filipina doctor, i do find it offensive. none but the most capable Filipino physicians are able to practice here in the US, and for them to single us out with such a comment is insulting.

  • Pingback: Radiant View Communications » The TV show,”Desperate Housewives,” Insults Filipino Doctors in America()

  • one angle we should also look at is that the american people are already frustrated with their current health care… i think the scriptwriter just want to “b***h” at someone or something… i’m sorry for the language, but i did screen it out…

  • Please link the YouTube clip of this controversal video. It’s more complete and some of your readers might actually get the joke because this version has the punchline…

    video clip here

    Watching the more complete clip might help our countymen “get it.”

  • i did think it was a little offensive – not too offensive. however, it is the kind of joke that people won’t get for many reasons and it’s just something the writers/editors really shouldn’t have let air. i did blog about it and linked it to your blog (as a reference to the certification process). thanks for the info!

  • Hi, folks!

    Just got several e-mails from Fil-Ams here asking if I’ve heard anything about what the Philippine government is doing about this disgusting situation. Please keep us posted.

    I just received a confirming text from the editorial department of ABS-CBN International, the Filipino Channel, after I missed their phone call this morning — which was most likely to fact-check the petition online’s URL. They’re running a segment about this situation tonight.

    I consider the thoughtless words as insulting and quite disempowering, especially since we are really working hard here in the US to pump up the energy about empowering Filipinos in America to be the best citizens they can be. So, there’s a call for several of our organizations here to do something, from NaFFAA to the Philippine Medical Society, the Philippine Nurses Association, etc. We’ll also keep you posted.


  • @Lester- thanks for the video clip. This is more complete. And you have to see the punchline to get the joke. Yes it’s an annoying joke. I didn’t find it funny though.

    wow I didn’t expect to a big uproar. 13469 Total Signatures in the online petition.

  • Pingback: Desperate Housewives, Filipino Version » Touched by an Angel »()

  • Make that 15,600+ signatures now, Noemi. I’m not signing it. ‘Desperate Housewives’ is a drama and comedy show. And Susan Mayer was just in character when she delivered the line — arrogant, insensitive and stupid. There are more important things where Filipinos can put that people power might to use.

  • Pingback: Ang Kape Ni LaTtEX » Blog Archive » Problems of context and the oversensitivity of the Desperate()

  • I haven’t seen this episode and I appreciate you sharing the video clip. I watched it and from that short clip, I find it annoying for such a well loved program to derogate our country’s physicians. I read a comment earlier sharing a longer version of the clip, claiming a punchline. I will watch the video to understand better.

  • @James- It looks like the Filipino-Americans are quite strong in the online petition. I wasn’t for any boycott or petition. My point is to “educate” those who think a diploma is all there is to practice medicine in the states.

    @Rach- I placed the longer version on the entry already.

  • donna

    Is Terri Hatcher’s character supposed to be someone who is so ditzy and uninformed? What about Terri Hatcher? Did she not understand her lines?

  • jon

    Just to show you the ignorance of the director and scriptwriters of this show on the contribution of Filipino Doctors, Nurses and health care in providing medical care to the U.S. population.

  • Pingback: Anti-Filipino Slur on Desperate Housewives? | Bakla Ako, May Reklamo?()

  • There’s a petition for this. I believe public apology is not enough. They have to pay in US$ to show the networks that they can’t do this anymore. They have to be penalized.

  • aimee lim

    i found this so called punch line of Teri Hatcher very annoying.I am one of the millions of hardworking Filipino nurses here in America and like the doctors, we passed 3 exams in a row to be able to work here…i have been in nursing for 14 years..been to Europe for 4 years..seen the kapalpakan ng mga foriegn doctors regarding the kind of treatment for their patients…I am very sensitive with foreigners stereotyping us…I am very proud to be a Filipino.

  • I’m appalled, I’m going to write about this article, too.

  • Pingback: desperate writer, desperate actress « moms…..check nyo()

  • @John Bayer- I think penalizing is asking a bit too much

    @aimee lim- annoying yes, but we know that scene is an invalid statement. That’s why I blogged about it to “educate” the ignorant.

    @mlizochico- Blogging certainly helps correct the “some med school in the Philippines” inaccuracy

  • Jerry

    Obviously, it’s not fair. there maybe very few doctors/nurses that do not meet their standards but many of our doctors are very good doctors. Let’s not watch Desperate Housewives.

  • Google Me

    It’s just a script… it was not meant to be insulting… we Filipinos get so affected with very little words! come one don’t get so affected by it… If it said “some med school from Africa” you would’ve laughed out hard and not mind anything… relax people! you don’t have start a controversy out of some scripts like that… relax!

  • Anne

    yeah, sort degrading. but we need to cool down and take it as a challenge. That writer don’t know much about us…

  • Don


    I feel this is more of a case of “desparate to find a SILENT minority.”

    A minority that won’t make waves….A minority that will just sit back and allow insults.

    It’s not politically correct to trash any other minority, Blacks, muslims, gays, Mexicans right?

    But it’s ok to trash Filipino people?

    I don’t think so!




  • Pingback: “Desperate Housewives” Piss off Filipinos worldwide! | Fil Am Forum Report()

  • Kris

    OK, I respect those who got pissed of by that line

    BUT how come, Filipinos are not pissed off by insulting jokes we throw at other ethnicities? because we aren’t the target. We are the targeters.

    Bubble gang, watch it. Lots of discriminating/insulting/degrading jokes there…and we find it funny!

    Double standard.

  • Ann

    hi! you know i signed the petition against this desperate housewives’ slur against Filipinos. I think they shouldn’t be saying that. But not all Americans think that way, my boss right now is an American based in new york but all his staffs are Filipinos.

  • Pingback: Feelings Towards Desperate Housewives Slur Episode » Touched by an Angel »()

  • tonette

    The writer is MARC H CHERRY, 45 yrs old. The Filipino basher is a self-proclaimed CONSERVATIVE GAY REPUBLICAN who lives since June 1, 2005 at ********

    *address edited out by Noemi

  • Job Hunting Expenses

    Glad to see someone is staying on top of things.

  • jen

    I think they were trying to be witty, but may have failed. I am filipino and was not offended. Unfortunately this IS a stereotype. It is known here, at least in Cali that there are plenty of nurses and care takers here that are Filipino, and that we may not be the nicest people in the healthcare profession. Although just because it is a stereotype, does not mean they can use it on TV.

    Anyone else here this stereotype? We have been known not to be the best care takers and what not.

  • CRL JR.

    yeahh…they’re JUST DESPERATE for ratings………the script writer is totally imbecile in coming up with that line……better take additional lessons in world history, geography,culture and sociology…..don’t they know that their fellow americans, a few of them only get to have college diplomas…..we”l thy better study here in the Phileippines to have a taste of our…”some med school in the Philippines”

  • Janet

    Masyado kayong apektado! ang mga pinoy sobrang GUILTY! para kayong NANA. sinabi ng actress ang linyang “in — SOME — med school in the Philippines”. Does anyone get the point? “SOME MED SCHOOL” HELLO!!????? “board exam leakage controversy” hello!!??? RECTO hello!!???…. hwag nyong sitahin ang scriptwriter, baka i-sampal sa mukha nating ang bulok na katotohanan. Pupunta kayo ng Amerika tapos rereklamo kayo. “SANA DUMATING ANG PANAHON ang lahat ng experto nandirito na lang sa Pilipinas…”

  • Cit

    To Janet:
    Marami namang med school sa mundo, bakit pa naman ang Philippine Med School pa ang sinabi, marami tayong mga magagaling na mga nurses at doctors ngayon. Kaya’t in demand ang mga nurses sa America..i agree na dapat sila mag hingi nang tawad. insulto ito sa ating bansa.cheers

  • Like the dude above said. Double standard. When I heard the line, I was like ‘woah’ but i think reacting too loudly just shows how defensive we are, which makes us butts of more jokes.

  • “As leaders in broadcast diversity, we are committed to presenting sensitive and respectful images of all communities featured in our programs,” it concluded.

    Read more: