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Medical Education in the Philippines

Author: Diana Francesca Gepte

Editor: Akihiko Ozaki M.D.,

I was 13 years old when I watched my uncle as the Department of Health spokesperson on Philippine television during the 2003 SARS outbreak, and I decided in that moment that I wanted to be a medical doctor. At such a tender age, I had no conception of the challenges ahead, but I chose to take the path anyway, both with excitement and a deep sense of courage.

The Philippine education system, including medical education, is heavily influenced by the American system of education. This is primarily due to periods of foreign occupation, with the United States leaving the most remarkable impression. In this system, it is a requirement that, in order to pursue higher education (i.e., postgraduate studies such as law or medicine), a student must be able to complete elementary education, high school, and an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree program. The duration of a bachelor’s degree program is a minimum of 4 years. A high school graduate who would later like to pursue medical education may actually choose any degree program for undergraduate studies; for example, he or she may choose a health-related course (e.g., BS Nursing, BS Occupational Therapy, BS Speech Pathology) or a non-health related course (e.g., Culinary, Engineering, Music) as a pre-medical course. Those who have completed a non-health related course will need to add Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math units to be eligible for medical school.

I was 17 when I began my Bachelor of Sciences in Public Health as a pre-medical course in the University of the Philippines-Manila. I chose Public Health as an undergraduate course with only the knowledge that it would help me achieve my ultimate goal. Later, af