The road to becoming a doctor doesn’t start when you enter med school. It starts as early as choosing a pre-med course to pursue for your undergraduate studies. Universities in the Philippines offer a handful of pre-med courses to choose from, and for incoming college students, it can be pretty confusing to select.
To help you decide, you can look up the curriculum of each pre-med course to see get a brief idea of what you’ll be studying in college. There are also online sources that describe what each pre-med course is like. For instance, Aura Azarcon, MD (who’s also a former PBB housemate!) has a YouTube channel called DoktAura dedicated to helping out aspiring doctors. She uploaded a series of videos that attempt to explain the most popular pre-med courses in the Philippines like Medical Technology, Nursing, Pharmacy, Psychology, and Physical Therapy.
For this series, Aura invited guests who took these courses as their pre-med over to discuss what the curriculum is like, what misconceptions most people have about it, as well as why it’s a good option to take as a pre-med course. Here's one where Aura shines light on BS Pharmacy as a pre-med program, a couse that, according to her, isn't the most popular as a pre-med option:
Aside from online sources, it's also a good practice to talk to someone you know who went to med school to ask for their perspective. Here, we asked what three med students personally think is the best pre-med program based on their experience in med school.
Antonette Tamayo (UST FMS, 2023) personally thinks Nursing is a good choice to take, especially because you'll get a more hands-on learning experience even during your undergraduate years. "I think a good pre-med course would be nursing because they give you a background about common diseases," she shares. "Not to mention, you would also have actual patient encounters wherein student nurses are taught to assess and monitor patients." In the Philippines, you'd be able to take this course in educational institutions like Cebu Doctors University, Silliman University, and University of Santo Tomas.
BS Medical Technology
Jeanel Samonte (UST FMS, 2023) also believes that every pre-med program has its own edge in medicine school, but if she'd have to highlight one, it would be Medical Technology. "Personally, I recommend BS Medical Technology because this program covers almost all of the subjects in medicine including most of the topics in Clinical Pathology, Microbiology, Parasitology, and many more. Pharmacology and Anatomy were also included in the curriculum but they were just a few units back then."
Sofia Valdes (UST FMS, 2023) also acknowledges the many pre-med courses and breaks down their individual strengths as a preparatory course for medicine proper. "Each course has its own core competencies. They lay the groundworks for med school fundamentals," Sofia explains. "For example, Pharmacy and Med Tech have courses that are very helpful in second year med school subjects, such as Pharmacology, Pathology, Parasitology, and others."
BS Biology, BS Physical Therapy
Aside from the subjects you'd be taking in med school proper, part of your preparations must also include the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT), the results of which is important in applying to most med schools in the Philippines. Sofia personally thinks courses like Biology can give you an edge in taking the exam. "Biology prepares you for the NMAT and other med school subjects like embryology and neuroscience." When it comes to the more practical side of learning, Sofia shares, "PT and Nursing are more on the application side of medicine and are very useful when it comes to cases and duty."
Ultimately, there isn't a standard when it comes to the ~best~ pre-med course. It all boils down to your strengths and interests, and whether or not your course is something you think you'd excel in or enjoy.
*Answers have been edited for clarity.
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