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Doctor of Medicine in the Philippines

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Program Overview

The Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree is a five year graduate program intended to teach students the essentials of being a Medical Doctor. The program consists of three years of academic instruction, one year of clinical clerkship and one year of post-graduate internship.

In the first year, the subjects integrated in the curriculum are mainly composed of basic sciences such as Human Anatomy and Physiology, Biochemistry, Preventive Medicine, Community health, Psychiatry and Medical Practice I. The second year is spent studying fundamental concepts in Pathology, Microbiology and Parasitology, Pharmacology, Medicine and Surgery, Psychiatry II and Medical Economics. During the third year of studying Medicine, students are taught subjects that deal with common diseases encountered in clinical practice, as well as interesting or rare conditions. The pathophysiology, clinical features, diagnostic approaches and the management of these diseases are also given emphasis. The final year of the Doctor of Medicine program is spent in hospital duty.

The first two years of the Doctor of Medicine program are spent in class lectures delivered through computers using LCD projectors complemented by slide/ film showings, laboratory work and group discussions. In the third and fourth year, students begin to meet patients in actual hospital setting. Students are rotated in various hospital departments, spending up to two months in each department in the fields of internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics, and several weeks in other specialties under the supervision of a faculty. After each clinical duty, students undergo periodic evaluation to assess their performance.

The Doctor of Medicine program may require the presentation and defense of a graduate-level thesis, an independent research project, or supervised professional practice as a final graduation requirement.

Is Medicine a Profession?

Medicine is a profession. A graduate of Medical Studies who passes the Philippine Physician’s Licensure Examination is called a Medical Doctor (MD) or a Physician. Physician’s responsibilities vary greatly depending on the area of specialization. Generally speaking, duties may include undertaking patient consultations and physical examinations, analyzing reports and findings of tests and of examination, diagnosing conditions, assessing and planning treatment requirements, monitoring and administering prescribe treatments and drugs, referring patients to medical specialist or other practitioner for specialized treatment, writing reports, maintaining records and promoting health education.

What are the admission requirements for the M.D. program?

Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
(See sources 1, 2, 3 and 4)

  • Pre-med bachelor's degree
    The preferred pre-medicine programs for entry into medical school are Biological Sciences programs that are primarily structured as pre-medicine courses, such as B.S. Biology, and Healthcare programs such as B.S. Medical Technology, B.S. Pharmacy, B.S. Nursing, B.S. Public Health, and B.S. Physical Therapy.

    However, students can still be admitted to medical school provided that they meet the following requirements:

    • Must have a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree or their equivalent and must have taken in four years the following subjects with their corresponding number of units:
      • English: 12 units
      • Latin: 3 units
      • Mathematics, including Accounting and Statistics: 9 units
      • Philosophy, including Psychology and Logic: 12 units
      • Zoology and Botany: 15 units
      • Physics: 8 units
      • Chemistry: 21 units
      • Library Science: 1 unit
      • Humanities and Social Sciences: 12 units
    • Applicants whose courses are completely unrelated to medicine are required to take a preparatory medical course by the Board of Medical Education before they can proceed to the M.D. program. These applicants must complete the number of years designated for the preparatory course. Once the applicant completes the course, the Board of Medical Education will issue a certificate of eligibility permitting the applicant to proceed to the Doctor of Medicine program.
  • NMAT – applicants to medical schools are required to take the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT). The NMAT scores obtained by a medical school applicant are deemed sufficient and valid as basis for evaluating applicants for admission to a college of medicine. There are schools that require an NMAT result of 80% or higher.
  • College entrance exam – must take the entrance examination and get an above average grade, depending on the specified rating set by the school.
  • Interview – must pass a panel interview composed of professors.
  • Police clearance – must submit a copy of Police or NBI clearance showing no involvement in cases of moral turpitude (rape, robbery, forgery, etc).
  • Recommendation Letter – must submit a recommendation letter from reputable source and from previous college dean or any faculty of member of his/her previous school.

What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?

  • Critical thinking – demonstration of cognitive skills and memory necessary to measure, calculate and reason in order to analyze, integrate and synthesize information
  • Analytical skills – the ability to understand complex medical situations, create connections among different clinical manifestations and make sensible decisions to implement plan of care
  • Communication skills – ability to speak, hear and observe patients and coherently summarize a patient's condition and management plan, verbally and in writing; ability to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, families, employees and other health-care practitioners
  • Scientific inclination – having a wide knowledge about the different branches of science and ability to understand and connect certain concepts together; essential, because without this, a student will not be able to understand the pathophysiology of certain diseases thus diagnosis and treatment is as well affected.
  • Patient Care Skills – the ability to understand and take care of patients from all ages and walks of life; involves empathy, compassion and the sincere desire to help the sick.
  • Observation skills – ability to demonstrate skills in observation. In particular, a student must be able to accurately observe a patient and acquire visual, auditory and tactile information.
  • Organization – the ability to manage different patients at a time, efficiently giving them the same amount of medical attention
  • Clinical efficiency – a physical ability of using medical instruments and performing medical and surgical procedures efficiently and safely.

How difficult is this course?

The Doctor of Medicine program is a very difficult course. The workload in medical school is immense. The amount of information you'd have to grasp will be higher than most people studying other courses. As a clinical student, your timetable dramatically changes. Medicine is a very time-intensive degree and one that will increasingly have high financial demand. Students are thrown in at the deep end of some of the most challenging scenarios and confronted with patients that have different diseases. During clinical duty, your sleep wake pattern is greatly disturbed because the schedule is shifting.

How long does it take to complete the M.D. program in the Philippines?

Generally, the M.D. program takes five years to complete. In schools that follow a trimestral curriculum, the program may be completed in less than five years. The M.D. program includes three years of academic and clinical study, one year of clinical clerkship and one year of post-graduate internship.

3 to 6 months are usually spent in a comprehensive review program for the Philippine Physician’s Licensure Examination. The program features classes and lectures from members of the faculty as well as other medical practitioners. It doesn’t just end there; a residency will follow as well as a post-grad study in your chosen specialization.

The residency period, in which you are trained in your specialized medical field, takes another 3-6 years.

Post-graduate Internship

To be able to take the Philippine Physician’s Licensure Examination, a graduate of the M.D. program must first undergo a post-graduate Internship. It is a shared responsibility of the medical school and the hospital. The Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Foundation is the supervising body for the post-graduate internship.

As to the required number of hours, it varies from school to school.


The most common fields of specializations in Medicine are as follows:
  • Family Practice – a family physician is concerned with the total health care of the individual and the family and is trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments in patients of all ages
  • Internal Medicine – internists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, infections, and diseases affecting the heart, blood, kidneys, joints, and digestive, respiratory, and vascular systems.

    Internal medicine includes many sub-specialties, such as:
    • Cardiology
    • Endocrinology
    • Gastroenterology
    • Geriatric Medicine
    • Oncology and Hematology
    • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
    • Infectious Diseases
    • Nephrology
    • Pulmonary Diseases
    • Rheumatology
  • Emergency Medicine – an emergency physician focuses on the immediate decision making and action necessary to prevent death or any further disability both in the prehospital setting by directing emergency medical technicians and in the emergency department.
  • Pediatrics – pediatricians provide preventive health maintenance for healthy children and medical care for those who are seriously or chronically ill; physicians trained in pediatrics are experts in emotional and behavioral assessment and can be powerful advocates for troubled children and adolescents.
  • Obstetrics-gynecology – a diverse and vibrant specialty that utilizes both medical and surgical skills to address specialized aspects of women’s health during the female life cycle, including the pre-pubertal, reproductive, and post-menopausal years.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon – an orthopedic surgeon is trained in the preservation, investigation, and restoration of the form and functions of the extremities, spine, and associated structures by medical, surgical, and physical means; involved with the care of patients who have musculoskeletal problems.
  • General Surgery – a surgeon establishes the diagnosis and provides the preoperative, operative, and postoperative care to surgical patients and is usually responsible for the comprehensive management of the trauma victim and the critically ill surgical patient.
  • Psychiatry – a psychiatrist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, addictive, and emotional disorders such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance-related disorders, sexual and gender identity disorders, and adjustment disorders.

Philippine Physician’s Licensure Examination

To be a full–fledged medical doctor in the Philippines, a graduate of the M.D. program needs to pass the Philippine Physician’s Licensure Examination. The Board of Medicine (BOM) facilitates the exam under the supervision of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).

There are two general categories included in the exam each having six subjects under them. The first category is basic sciences (Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pathology and Pharmacology) and the second category is clinical sciences (Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Surgery, Legal Medicine and Preventive Medicine). The passing average is 75%, with no grade falling below 50% in any subject.

A medical graduate needs to pass the medical board exam in order to obtain his license. He or she must pass the Med Boards within his first three attempts; otherwise, he would have to take a 1-year refresher course given only by certain medical schools. Currently, there is no limit to the number of times a medical graduate may attempt taking the board exam.

Medical Residency Training

After passing the Licensure Exam, graduates are eligible to enter the Residency Training Program in their field of specialization. The Residency training program in the Philippines is regulated by their respective Medical Societies (Philippine Board of Psychiatry, Philippine Board of Pediatrics, Philippine Board of Cardiology, Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, etc). Each society has created an Accreditation Committee/Board whose goal is to assure the delivery of the highest quality medical care by implementing a structured residency program and a standard curriculum in order to ensure the competence of those undergoing training in different fields of specialization in the different training institutions nationwide (see sources 1 and 2).

Medical specialization usually takes three to six years of residency training in accredited hospitals and clinics, and the taking of diplomate board examinations by the medical societies. Resident doctors are supervised by a superior. They are also given full compensation with overtime pay and night differential pay (see source).

Career opportunities for Doctor of Medicine graduates

  • Jobs for licensed Doctors (board exam passers)

    • Entry Level jobs

      Jobs requiring no prior to minimal level of experience:

      • Resident Physicians – also known as an intern, resident physicians work in hospitals under the supervision of the medical staff of the hospital and a senior doctor
      • Junior Physician in a private clinic – works as assistant to a more experienced doctor; assists in consultation and minor procedures and surgery
      • Company Doctor – a physician employed by a company; performs general physical assessment, prescribes basic remedies and treatments to employees
      • School Doctor – a physician employed to make periodic examinations to students.
      • Private Practice Doctors – licensed physicians who opt not to undergo residency training and create their own private clinics; usually the scope of practice is general.
    • Mid-Level Positions

      Completed the residency training program and successfully acquired a field of specialization:

      • A specialist at a government hospital – a medical doctor working as a specialist (ENT, Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, Gastroenterologist, Gynecologist, Urologist, Pediatrician, etc).
      • A specialist at a private hospital – same as the above, but working in a private hospital
      • Private practice specialist – a doctor who works at a specialized private clinic. Examples can be an Ophthalmology clinic, a Cardiology clinic or a Gynecologist.
      • Government Official – working in an administrative position in the Department of Health or similar government offices dealing with healthcare.
    • Advanced Positions

      Require years of extensive experience and practice:

      • Surgeon – a surgeon performs operations, related to different sub-specialties of medicine like general surgery, neurosurgery, cardiovascular, cardiothoracic surgery, ENT, maxilla-facial surgery, plastic surgery, oral surgery, transplant surgery, urology, etc.
      • Medical Consultant – provides a medical analysis of complex claims files ensuring that paperwork and the filing of medical claims follow compliance procedures established by government regulations and laws; monitors work capacity of employees or labor issues between the hospital and union, and in-charge of the overall working environment within a health care setting.
      • Hospital Administrator – oversees clinical units, departments or an entire hospital. These professionals manage personnel, finances and facility practices according to a distinct set of policies and procedures established by trustees. They keep abreast of new laws and regulations in the industry and advances in medicine and medical technology.
      • Senior Government Official – working in a senior administrative position in the Department of Health or similar government offices dealing with healthcare.
  • Jobs for Non Board Passers:

    These jobs will mainly depend on the undergraduate course that one has finished. Most students who study medicine graduated with a degree in biology, medical technology, nursing or physical therapy; they may opt to practice those professions if they fail to pass the board examination for medicine.
  • Career Opportunities Abroad

    Filipino doctors are not in high demand abroad. However, there are many licensed Filipino doctors who aspire to work in other countries due to the much higher compensation abroad. To do this, Filipino doctors need to pass the relevant board exam of each country. Countries like the United States allow foreign doctors to practice the profession there. To be able to practice medicine in the United States you need a Certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). Through its program of certification, the ECFMG assesses the readiness of international medical graduates to enter US residency or fellowship programs. After ECFMG certification, physicians who wish to practice medicine in the U.S. must complete an accredited residency training program in the U.S. or Canada - this process will take at least three years. You also need to pass a state licensure examination before you can practice medicine (see source).
  • Salary Levels

    The salary levels of physicians in the Philippines vary greatly. It will depend on your specialization, your skills and abilities, where you are employed and your years of experience. Generally speaking, salaries for licensed medical doctors are higher than the average salary in the Philippines.

Find schools offering Doctor of Medicine:

Reviews of Doctor of Medicine graduates:

C. D.
◈ Studied Doctor of Medicine
◈ At Angeles University Foundation
◈ Graduated 2006

list bulletWhy did I choose Doctor of Medicine: I felt that to be Doctor of Medicine I can make my parents feel comfortable in their old age. I can help a lot of relatives and friends while earn sufficient income.

list bulletAbout my college education: The doctors in pediatrics taught me how to detect if a child is sick and to prescribe the right dosage. I also learned how to make a child patient comfortable while I am treating him. There were math subjects and that I did not like. I knew how to count money anyway. I did not want to be an engineer so why study a lot about math. But I still read them. I liked most the subjects related to anatomy and medical practice. Every knowledge learned is helpful for my practice in the future.
I knew of no one who failed. Maybe all of my classmates passed. I did my best and I passed all my exams.

list bulletMy current job: I am now Pediatrician of a known hospital as well as I have my own clinic in Angeles City, Pampanga. I treat a lot of children with all kinds of illness and disease.

list bulletAm I using what I learned in college: In my college days in the course of Physical Therapy I learned about how to apply the therapeutic techniques to the different parts of the body that needed therapy. I now used this learning in my current job as a pediatrician.

list bulletHow long did it take to find a job: It took me a while to get hired as a Doctor because I took first the course of Physical Therapy and after graduation I got married and then I continued the studies of Medicine.

list bulletDo I recommend studying Doctor of Medicine: I really believe that a doctor will never be out of work and will always have good income. As a doctor, one can practice this course and profession anywhere. I feel happy to treat and heal people all the time.

list bulletAdvice to people who are thinking of studying this course: To study this course means a lot of money, hard work, late nights studies, and patience. One who likes to study medicine must be totally decided to become a doctor. To be a good doctor one has to develop a sense of care and compassion for the sick and the sickly. It is not about money all the time. Being too materialistic does not make one succeed in this course.
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