From scoring low to soaring high

FEU Advocate
April 09, 2021 18:17

Out of the 1,234 exam takers who passed— Jeremiah Lim of Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation (FEU-NRMF) took pride in acing the March 2021 Physician Licensure Examinations with a rating of 89.67 percent.

As a simple man who grew up in the town of Pagbilao in Quezon Province, his family’s primary source of income is a small bakery. The thing is, entering the field of medicine was not really Lim's first interest because he prefers to just follow the desire of his parents when it comes to the path he will take. 

“‘Pag tinatanong nila ako dati kung ano ang gusto ko, sinasabi ko ‘kahit ano basta walang math at maraming science” (When they ask me before about what I want to be, I would say 'anything as long as there is no math and lots of science’),” he said.

Thriving in adversity 

According to Lim, his college days in FEU Manila—where he obtained his degree in medical technology—played a big part in his success today. 

He met professors and friends who first trusted his abilities and pushed him out of his comfort zone that unleashed his true potential. This helped him overcome his inferiority complex which was the result of his negative experiences when he was young.

Although he managed to realize his capabilities in the end, braving his way to medical school was not easy at all due to his low NMAT rating of 55 percentile rank. The Commission on Higher Education's (CHED) cut-off is 40, but it is crucial for school admission to have a rating between 80 to 90. 

However, FEU-NRMF gave him an opportunity to continue through an academic scholarship. Lim cannot deny his gratitude to his mentors in medical school for preparing him for the exam, including the responsibility that comes after it as he takes part in the real world.

"Simula nung nakapasok ako, kailangan kong maabot ang G.W.A. na 1.50 pataas upang makapasok sa full academic scholarship, at hindi iyon naging madali pero pinalad ako na hanggang maka-graduate ay na-maintain ko ang scholarship dahil kung mawawala iyon, hindi talaga namin kakayaning magbayad ng tuition fee (Since I got in [FEU-NRMF], I had to reach a G.W.A. of 1.50 and above to get into the full academic scholarship, and that wasn't easy but I was lucky that until I graduated I kept the scholarship because if I lost it, we really couldn't afford to pay the tuition fee),” Lim explained to FEU Advocate.

In addition, reviewing and preparing for PLE became more challenging due to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“Aaminin ko, natakot ako nung una kaya ayaw ko na talaga sana pero naisip ko, paano kung kamag-anak ko ang magkasakit at dahil natatakot ang doktor ay walang gustong tumingin sa kanila? Kaya inalis ko ang takot sa aking sarili (I'll admit, I was scared at first which is why I almost didn't want to [take the PLE], but it came to my mind, what if my relatives get sick and because the doctor is scared, no one wants to look at them? So, I removed the fear from myself),” he shared.

Despite all the struggles and difficulties he faced in pursuing a career in medicine, his life has now completely changed after topping this year's licensure exam. 

In line with this, Lim would like to stress that just like the rest, he had a tough time in his journey that pushed him to persevere to attain where he is now.

Hindi rin po talaga naging madali ang buhay ko sa med school. Marami rin akong pagkakataon na nagkakaroon ako ng breakdown at gusto ko nalang sumuko, lalo na kailangan ko ma-maintain scholarship ko kaya dagdag na pressure sa’kin 'yun... Pero tuwing gusto ko nalang sumuko, na-aalala ko ang mga magulang ko na sobra ang pagsasakripisyo makapag-aral lang ako ng medisina at ito ang kagustuhan na masuklian ang kanilang paghihirap ang nagtutulak sakin para ibigay ang best ko (My life in med school has not really been easy either. I also have many moments of breakdown and I just want to give up, especially when I need to maintain my scholarship which adds pressure to me… But every time I want to give up, I will always remember my parents that sacrificed a lot so that I can only study medicine, and it is my desire to repay their sufferings that drives me to give my best),” he opened up.

Other than giving back to his parents as his biggest inspiration behind passing the exam to be a licensed doctor, Lim also never forgot to recognize other people who inspired and strengthened him to succeed. 

These include God for giving him the ability to carry on; his friends at FEU-NRMF that made medical school a fun experience; his colleagues at Philippine General Hospital (PGH) that lifted him up when he wanted to quit; his girlfriend who never left his side through the ups and downs; and most of all, his professors that guided him all the way.

Do things at your own pace

Although the examination was hard, Lim had study tips that helped him with his preparations for it, he said that one of the most essential parts in preparing for PLE was prioritizing his mental health by taking care of himself so he does not get burned out and lose his will to study.

Aside from that, one of the most important things that he learned was not to rush things, that every single thing and every single person has their own time and pace in life. He said that if a person happens to feel that they are not ready yet, then they should pause for a while and do not feel pressured.

Last November, he felt as though he was unready to take the licensure because he did not feel that he was ready to pass it yet, so he decided not to take it but he believes that success is just around the corner and it will come to him in God’s will—all he has to do was trust Him.

The fruit of all his labor

The news broke out when Lim was out for a jog and decided to take out his phone and scroll through his Facebook newsfeed when one of his friends, Eric, messaged him saying "Congrats pre top 1.” 

At first, he did not believe it because the examination was not easy—reaching a point where he could not picture himself topping the PLE. 

After Lim was able to confirm the news, he ran to his parents crying with tears of joy.

His parents hugged him and said that all of his sacrifices finally bore fruit. His parents then called their relatives and Louie “Louisito” Ramos Sacdalan offered them a ride to Lucena, to share the results and to thank them for all of their help.

His future plans

When asked about which hospital he plans to practice his clinical expertise, Lim said, “Plano ko po talaga makapasok ng internal medicine sa PGH dahil isa ito sa pinakamagaling na training hospital sa ating bansa at upang makapagbigay rin ng serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan (I plan to get into Internal Medicine in PGH because it is one of best training hospital in the country and to give service to the community).

Moreover, Lim said that he would like to go back to his province because that has always been a part of his plans ever since he started his journey to medical school. 

Part of the reason why he wanted to go back was because the hospitals there are short-handed so it would be a waste not to apply his medical expertise there.

Regarding things that Lim might want to bring to his province, he said that it would be all the expertise that he will learn in his training. 

Once he is all done, it will be a perfect opportunity to impart all of his knowledge to the students that will study at the medical school that is currently being constructed there.

Pride of the Tamaraws

“Masaya kasi nakapagdala ako ng karangalan sa FEU pero at the same time hindi rin ako masaya dahil hindi ko talaga nakikita ang sarili ko bilang isang role model na studyante (I am happy that I was able to bring honor to FEU, but at the same time I am not because I really do not see myself as a role model student),” Lim said.

Lim has a lot to say for everyone and one of those is to carefully choose a profession that they will be determined to pursue because the sacrifices of choosing the journey of being a doctor is a treacherous slope. 

When they choose this path, they will have to spend most of their lives in college while some of their batchmates will start earning money from their jobs and the others will finally be building families.

In choosing a path, Lim advises all the aspiring health allied forces and future frontliners with a message, “Hindi mo kailangan maging matalinong doktor kundi ang kailangan mo ay maging isang mabuting doktor (Lastly, in being a doctor, you do not need to be smart, all you have to do is become a good one).

-Rafa Jane Galeon & Maria Leonora Roja