Medical board topnotcher ready to join fight vs COVID-19 in Philippines

© STAR/File Medical board topnotcher ready to join fight vs COVID-19 in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — Two aspiring doctors shared the top spot in the country’s second Physician Licensure Examination (PLE) for 2021, administered this month by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC)’s Board of Medicine.

They are Maria Inez Sellado Benedicto of the West Visayas State University-La Paz and Jude Philip Pozon Cebrecus of the Cebu Institute of Medicine, who tied for top spot with the highest score of 87.83 percent.

Benedicto and Cebrecus led the 1,084 examinees who passed the licensure exam administered on Sept. 11, 12, 18 and 19 in the cities of Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi, Lucena, Tacloban and Zamboanga.

There were a total of 1,546 examinees.

But unlike the first 2021 PLE administered last March, this month’s board exams were not conducted in Metro Manila.

The other examinees in the top 10 are: Dickson Araza Laude of Remedio Romualdez Medical Foundation (87.67); Niño Pimentel Emocling of Saint Louis University (87.58); Justin Mae Manaois Gervero of Saint Louis University (87.08); Carl Jay Enad Jainar of the University of Santo Tomas (87.00); Patricia Ann Sayson Franco of Saint Louis University (86.92); Kirk Louie Umali Amandoron of Cebu Institute of Medicine (86.83); Jan Camille Lorenzana Ozaeta of Del La Salle Medical & Health Sciences Institute and Lee-Anne Velasco Sanglay of Saint Louis University (both 86.33); Raenald Pascual Julian of Saint Louis University (86.25) and Brylle Domerson Mendoza Turalba of Saint Louis University (86.17)

Childhood dream

Interviewed by The STAR, topnotcher Benedicto said it had been her childhood dream to be a doctor and not even the COVID-19 pandemic could stop her from pursuing it.

“It was like a reflex. When I was small and you asked me what I want to be when I grow up, I would readily answer, ‘to become a doctor,’” said the now 26-year-old native of La Carlota City, Negros Occidental.

Her resolve to become a doctor was cemented as she grew older and saw the “state of the health system in our country.”

“My desire has grown. Now, I am super sure I want to be a doctor. This is something I really want for myself, not something that other people forced upon me,” she said.

Being a topnotcher in the board exams is nothing new for Benedicto, who was also the 7th placer in the 2015 licensure examination for Medical Technology.

The only difference is that this time, the PLE was a “test of character and grit,” given that all the examinees are also challenged by the pandemic, she said.

She recalled how the examination came close to being cancelled, subjecting examinees to a lot of uncertainties. When it was finally set for September, they only had 40 days to prepare.

“There were lots of struggles in terms of processing documents since there were a lot of lockdowns going on. I was in Bacolod City and I had to travel to Iloilo where the exam would be,” she said.

A couple of her flights were cancelled because of lockdowns and as required by the PRC, she had to undergo 14-day quarantine before the tests.

Going abroad for better work opportunities is not in her plans. Benedicto said she is not even thinking about working in the better hospitals in Metro Manila because she wants to serve her own community.

“For now I am planning to serve in our community before starting my residency. There are a lot of people that need my help because of the pandemic,” she said.

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