What's next for 2020 Physician Licensure Exam topnotcher?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) — What will the topnotcher of the Physician Licensure Exam do next?

To those wondering, Jomel Lapides said he plans to continue serving at the Philippine General Hospital, where he worked as a nurse for six years. Lapides took a job at the PGH's Ophthalmology Department after passing the nursing exam in 2011, which he topped, too.

The soon-to-be doctor said in an interview with CNN Philippines he is set to start his pre-residency training in the same department by December 1 once he completes the requirements, but the official training would be on January 1 next year.

"Currently I am processing my application for residency training in the ophthalmology (department), same hospital po where I started as nurse," he told The Source on Friday

Path to med school

It was after three years of working as a PGH nurse when Lapides chose to take up medicine at the University of the Philippines in Manila. It took that long because he had to consider finances, as he was the breadwinner of his family during that time. He said the money his father makes as a tailor, could not cover all the household expenses.

"Maliit lang po kasi kinikita ni tatay so parang ‘pag nawala iyon, parang sobrang laki pong impact sa amin kahit working na yung isa kong sister kasi may sariling family na siya," Lapides shared.

[Translation: My father earns little so if loses his job, there will be a huge impact on us because even if my other sister is already working, she has her own family.]

Fortunately, his family supported his decision after he assured them he would get as many scholarships as he could, as well as continue working while studying to save money so when the time comes that he could no longer juggle work and school, he would have enough savings to support his family.

His worries and sacrifices did not go to waste. And this is what Lapides wants to teach working students as well: hard work pays off.

"It will be difficult now, it will take a lot of your time, of your resources, of your physical health. But this will be temporary, as long as you continue to strive for your goals," he said.

"All the hardships and the sacrifices will be worth it po. Iyong achievement, in the end, is enough para i-wash away lahat ng (to wash away all the) previous failures, or previous worries, anxieties niyo about it," he added.

The UP-Manila graduate led 3,538 examines who passed the 2020 licensure exam for aspiring doctors held this month. 

Lapides said the result was unexpected. He shared he had prayed and studied hard to get into the top 10, and getting the first spot was a bonus.

"Grabe binigay ni Lord, sobra sobra po," he said.

[Translation: This blessing from the Lord was too much.]