Tips for Medical Students: Life After NMAT

Friday, August 30, 2013 Stef dela Cruz, MD 2 Comments

You have prepared and labored for months, just so you get to pass the NMAT – and you did! Congratulations, you’re almost a medical student and soon enough, you’ll be a doctor! That’s probably why you’re looking for tips for medical students. You don’t want to be blindsided. Good for you.

medical student

Now that you have passed the NMAT, you are about to embark on a new journey: that of a doctor-in-training. After all, passing the NMAT is just one of the many things you have to do to become a doctor.

You have one foot in the door but there are other things you need to know.

For instance, Filipino doctors are often judged as substandard. Some go to the extent of saying Filipino doctors suck! It helps if you know what you’re in for. Prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally for what lies ahead.

Tips for Medical Students: Life After NMAT

Is there a good reason doctors in the Philippines are receiving a bad rap? If there is, you shouldn’t be part of that reason.

As someone used to spoon-feeding in college, you might not be ready for the independent, student-centric, problem-based approach that many post-graduate schools (including a few topnotch medical schools) use.

There are many mistakes you can make while wearing the white coat, especially if you’re not prepared for what lies ahead.

But I’m here to help out. After all, I know how it feels to be a newbie! Below are some observations that might prove useful to you as early as now.

  • Learn how to conduct yourself properly online. Even as a private individual, your actions will be judged according to your professions. Learn about how doctors should conduct themselves online before you start ranting on Twitter about that patient of yours who came in with a vibrator up his butt.
  • You will probably bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during your first day in medical school – stay that way. Make sure you never feel jaded, even when reality starts to creep in and you see patients who can’t afford treatments that will save their lives, or doctors who seem to be overcharging their patients.
  • There is much you (and I) need to learn, whether about life as a doctor or life in general. But I do hope these tips on becoming a doctor can help you in the amazing journey you are about to take.
  • Prepare yourself for your moment in the limelight. When you’re training to be a doctor, you are training for a career and a life. But there will always be those who can do nothing better than judge you. For instance, doctors who choose to pursue general practice suffer a stigma that I believe is due to ignorance and bias. Bad or good, your experiences might come as a surprise – and fate always favors the prepared.
  • Find out what your parents haven’t told you (or don’t’ know) about life as a doctor. If your parents are not doctors, they might not know enough to warn you about going on duty every single day for like six years – or more, if you’re going into a sub-specialty! They might not have told you that even after you’ve earned your degree, you will still “compete” for a niche in a world saturated by doctors who want to be successful, too. To help you out, here’s an article on what your parents didn’t tell you about becoming a doctor. I hope you get enlightened, especially if you’re having trouble deciding on whether you should go into medicine or not.
  • Do your research on what kind of doctor you want to become early on. There’s nothing more destructive than going through medical school without any sense of direction! Although you might not realize early on what kind of doctor you want to be, you should at least ask yourself that question often. Be pro-active; find out what doctors can do outside of hospital practice. For instance, I’m a doctor-blogger who now maintains a column in a print magazine. How about you, what kind of doctor do you want to be?

You’re a Doctor in the Making

…And remember that! You’re training to be a healer, a health advocate, an adviser, and a mentor. Much is expected of you when the initials “M.D.” are attached to the end of your name.

That’s why just because Filipino doctors are unappreciated doesn’t mean you should stop doing a good job. If anything, you should prove detractors wrong! Keep your chin up and don’t ever think of sacrificing your principles to earn big bucks as a doctor.

Steer clear of these top 5 bad behaviors of doctors. Be your own critic and be vigilant of what you say about your colleagues!

Moreover, as a newbie doctor, help your friends in med school feel just as prepared as you do. Share this with your med school friends on Facebook by using the “recommend” button above below.

Learn to be generous with the many suggestions and tips for medical students that you get along the way! Your selflessness will not go unnoticed. Smile

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. Hi, Stef. This is Engr. Ace from Mindanao. Would it be to my disadvantage if I go to a med school with electrical engineering as my first degree? I was an honor student back in college and I've always been tantalized by the medical field. Any advice? I'm 24 and really thinking of pursuing to be a doctor-engineer.

    1. Hi, Engr. Ace! It shouldn't be a disadvantage. You might be asked during the interview why you took engineering instead of a health degree (they will be testing your dedication to pursue medicine), but just tell the truth about finally heeding your calling and taking action to pursue it despite previous decisions you've made in life and they will see your determination.

      If you're an honor student in college, you won't have that much of a hard time catching up with medical lingo and concepts. Besides, even if your degree was a disadvantage indeed, should that stop you? :)

      I've seen lawyer-doctors, people with lit majors who then pursued medicine, and many others who made major changes in their career paths. Why not you, too? Go for it if you truly want to pursue it!