philippines sunset

philippines sunset (Photo credit: FriskoDude)

While watching the morning news today, a high-ranking official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was interviewed regarding the present state of colleges and universities in the Philippines.  The message that struck me was the fact that more and more students are choosing college courses that offer little opportunity for employment.  Nursing, Information Technology, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Teacher Education, and Business Administration are just some of the courses that were reportedly oversubscribed.  In the case of nursing, the problem has become so severe that these professionals have resorted to applying as call center agents, waitresses, or office receptionists just to make ends meet.  Do these unemployed (or misemployed) members of the labor force have other alternatives?  Well, for one, why not study some more and go to medical school?


It is always a source of pride for every family to have a physician.  Aside from the respect given to doctors, there are a lot of perks and privileges associated with the MD tag.  One of them is being free from professional fees.  A doctor and his immediate relatives, as directed by the Philippine Medical Association Code of Ethics, are usually not charged by their fellow medical professionals for services rendered.  There are also many sponsored events for continuing medical education so a doctor can continually hone his craft for free.  Being respected and highly regarded also come with the territory, giving doctors the inside track to reach highly coveted leadership positions.  Finally, for most doctors, there is the overwhelming satisfaction of making a difference in other people’s lives, making it an extremely effective way to attain self-actualization.


So why are most of our young students discouraged from going into medicine?  The first factor is financial.  The cost of putting a student through medical school has skyrocketed over the years.  Another reason is the length of time it takes to finish the course.  An extra five years of medical education after getting a bachelor’s degree are needed in order to graduate.  This may not be an attractive alternative for someone who wants to earn immediately after graduating from college.  Finally, there is the associated long hours of study and sleepless nights, and the inevitability of missing important gatherings of family and friends while pursuing a medical degree.


The hindrances, however, may be addressed.  By looking for scholarships or applying in government-subsidized schools, poor but deserving students have a chance to enter medical school.  I also know of a student who initially joined the labor force, and then decided to enter medical school after having procured sufficient funds.  And just as in any other discipline, as long as one manages time wisely and knows his or her priorities, missing the important dates and activities in life could be minimized.


Finally, today may be a good opportunity to become a medical student straight out of college.  Before, there were a lot of prerequisite science, math, and humanities subjects that had to be completed in order to enter medical school.  Today, the requirement is simply to have bachelor’s degree.  While one still has to take the National Medical Admissions Test (NMAT), I do not consider it as a hindrance, because it is actually a  preview to the prerequisite knowledge needed to succeed in medicine.


Ultimately, it is all a question of desire.  Forcing someone to do something out of his own volition will only result in antagonism and future regret.  But during these times, when unemployment is high and the opportunities are limited, going back to school and pursuing a career in medicine may not be a bad idea.  Who knows – it could signal the beginning of a significant and prosperous future.






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