How long does it take to be a doctor in the Philippines?

Someone emailed me this question a few weeks ago, and I’d like to share my answer to everyone.

First, you all know there’s pre-med. That’s usually 4 years of college. In my case, it only took three to get my BS Biology degree because DLSU Manila has a tri-sem curriculum. (Three semesters in a year, instead of the usual two). That’s why I’m younger than most of my classmates. Di halata, mature kaming lahat! Hahaha.

After college, most go straight to med school. However, it is not uncommon to take a year off (or more) – either to rest, to travel, to work, or to take the board exams. Some use this time to decide if they really want to go to med school. I think there are pros and cons to that, which should be reserved for another blog post.

Now comes med school! To have an idea on what you’re going to learn per year, here’s an example..
1st year (classroom) – A hundred concepts about how healthy lungs work.
2nd year (classroom) – A hundred more about how unhealthy lungs fail to work.
3rd year (classroom) – How to diagnose and treat all those lung conditions.
4th year / clerkship (hospital) – How to carry an oxygen tank two floors up, or how to pay for your poor patient’s nasal cannula. (Kidding, but yes, I heard.)

Around April after 4th year, you will officially graduate and be conferred with an M.D. after your name. Around this time, you should be less flattered when a professor or patient calls you “doctor” kasi .. totoo na!

Then people apply for post-graduate internship. There’s “internship matching”, where students from all over the Philippines are assigned to different teaching hospitals. Usually, the top students per school get to go to their hospital of choice. I honestly never bothered asking more about it since like most other PLM scholars, I am required to take my internship year at Ospital ng Maynila, That’s another year at the hospital doing basic but worthwhile patient care. 🙂

Again, internship year ends on or before April, and we are free/forced to spend the next few months reviewing for the August or February Physician Licensure Exam. Results are posted online as early as 4 days after!

Keep up. I already talked about 9 years of your life.

After becoming a licensed doctor, you may choose to stop there and start earning as a G.P. (general physician), do “moonlight” gigs, or take the high long road well-traveled – residency.

For example, pediatricians spend three additional years learning all about kiddos. That includes secretly practicing on unknowing children with trusting mothers, studying and presenting challenging cases to older docs (their “professors”), and acing more and more exams. All these while surviving on a measly monthly salary, before they get the privilege of seeing cute babies everyday and call it “work”.

Any questions? Feel free to comment as usual. 🙂



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