Jomel Garcia Lapides, the topnotcher in the November 2020 Physician Licensure Examinations (PLE), said he almost gave up on his journey to become a doctor.
Lapides, who was working as a nurse at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila while studying medicine, said there were times when he was struggling to juggle all his responsibilities.
“Meron pong times na parang sobrang nakakapagod na po…Amazingly, after a night’s rest, nagkaroon lang ako ng one day off…okay na, kaya na ulit (There were times when I was really tired…Amazingly, after a night’s rest, a day off…I got my energy back to study),” Lapides told CNN Philippines in an interview.
Lapides said his colleagues at PGH helped him immensely in his journey since they were always considerate of his situation.
The medicine graduate said his seniors who would give way for him to plot leaves first and would always give him the leeway to change his schedules.
Lapides thanked his parents who have supported him in his dream to become a doctor despite their family’s financial status.
The UP Manila graduate said his family’s financial status was among the major considerations he had before pursuing a degree in medicine because he was the family’s breadwinner while his father worked as a tailor and his mother was a housewife.
“Medyo kinakabahan ako during that time, kasi nga ako ‘yung kumikita sa family, tapos malit lang po ‘yung kinikita ni tatay so parang pag nawala po ‘yon, sobrang laking impact sa amin. Kahit na ‘yung isa ko pong sister (nag ta-trabaho) kaso may sarili na rin po siyang pamilya (I was actually nervous during that time),” he said.
Lapides said he told his parents that he will try to get scholarships and continue working so as not to burden the family with his tuition.
He got the support of his parents.
“They believed in me and supported me sa decision ko. (So) I reassured them na kaya pa rin, na nakapag-ipon naman ako (They believed in me and supported me in my decision. (So) I reassured them that we can cover (the finances for my schooling) since I was able to save up),” Lapides said.
Lapides said he was not expecting to be No. 1 in the November 2020 PLE but did wish to be part of the Top 10.
“’Yun ‘yung gusto kong ma-achieve for myself sa exam na ‘to, pero grabe ‘yung binigay ni Lord sobra pa (That’s what I wanted to achieve for myself in this exam, but the Lord gave me so much more),” he said.
This is not the first time Lapides achieved such a great feat. In 2011, he also topped the Nursing board examinations.
Asked if topping the 2011 Nursing board exam put pressure on him to do good in the PLE, Lapides said: “Meron po pero not that much (There was, but not that much).”
Lapides advised aspiring doctors to remember that all the hardships they are facing now are just “temporary.”
“It will be difficult now, it will take a lot of your time and resources, of your physical health, but this will be temporary,” he said.
“As long as you continue to reach for your goals and achieve it in the end, all the hardships and the sacrifices will be worth it. Achievement in the end is enough para i-wash away lahat ng previous failures or previous worries, anxieties ninyo about it (to wash away all your previous failures or previous worries, anxieties about it),” he added.
He also shared a tip on how to better study and that is to “know how you learn best.”