FAQs for future doctors (based on questions sent in by readers)

Thursday, April 06, 2017 Stef dela Cruz, MD 6 Comments

As much as sickness sucks, it does have its perks: Thanks to an illness that confined me to bed for a couple of days, I finally found the time to look at my blog’s backlog of emailed questions about becoming a doctor.

doctor FAQsOne of the many ridiculous questions I received via email. Should I laugh or cry?

At first, I tried answering each email. I knew I couldn’t sustain the effort – I received more emails in a day than I could read in a week – so I knew it was a losing battle. I did notice a trend in the questions so I might as well make a list of FAQs for future doctors reading this blog.


FAQs about becoming a med student sent via email (some more ridiculous than others)

Ready to run through a few questions and their respective answers? Warning: Not for people without a sense of humor.

Proceed with caution. You’ve been warned.


“Will being a doctor make me rich? I want to be filthy rich.”

Next question. Huwag ako, koya.


“I’m a single parent and I’m afraid that I might not be able to support my daughter if I take up medicine. What should I do?”

Kudos to you for not giving up on your dream while also honoring the dreams of your child. You’re in a tough spot and you deserve all the help you can get.

Unfortunately, I’m not in the best position to tell you what to do next. Every story is different. Maybe yours is different from some other single parent’s who wants to be a doctor.

Not everybody will have the luxury to follow their dreams. But for those who do, it’s a shame if they don’t. As to what you eventually decide to do is totally up to you.

Also, thank you for not being an ass, unlike the person who asked me if being a doctor would make him filthy rich.


“How can I get a better NMAT score?”

Um, answer more of the questions correctly? Teehee.

Kidding aside, try to find out why you’re getting low NMAT scores to begin with. Then, here are a few testmanship skills you might benefit from regardless of your level of preparedness.

There are also a lot of other articles here on the NMAT – use the search field on this website and try to go through all of them, in case you find something useful.


“Can you recommend an NMAT samplex or reviewer?”

Short answer: No.

Long answer: I never bought any reviewers, nor did I ever have any copy of a sample exam. You can look for online sample questions on the different NMAT topics, such as physics and inductive reasoning, just to give you an example of what you questions you might get during the exam.


“Which med schools accept applicants with low NMAT scores?”

The ones that don’t care what kind of doctors they produce? Joke! Half-meant, but still a joke.

Snarktastic comments aside, I’m acquainted only with my own school’s NMAT cutoff scores, so I can’t speak for other med schools. However, you can bet that the best med schools will have tougher cutoffs.

I would start by asking those that don’t belong to the roster of top med schools. (Do share your research with the rest of our readers by leaving a comment, okay?)


“My college degree is not health-related. How do I pursue medicine?”

You can start by asking the med school of your choice about their requirements for enrolment. You may (or may not) be required to take extra science units.

Protocols have changed several times since I applied for med school, so the safest thing for you to do is ask a medical school directly for first-hand information. I did have classmates in med school who majored in literature and political science, and the engineer I once featured here on my blog is now a med student, so things should be looking up for you!


“I’m too old/ too busy working/ too confused to pursue medicine. Is it going to be hard for me? Should I even pursue medicine?”

In other words… you are too afraid, yes?

Don’t be. Listen to your calling. Only you can truly answer the question you asked me. Nobody can dictate what your priorities should be. Nobody can tell you what to do when you’re at that fork in the road.

If becoming a doctor was truly what you wanted to do and I told you it would be the most difficult thing you would do in your life, would you back down?

Remember as well that heeding one’s calling is a luxury not everybody can afford. I always say that if you do have the luxury to do it, it’s a shame if you don’t.


“What is the best pre-med?”

This is like asking, “What is the best college course ever?” There is no Best Pre-Med Course Award. Nope, doesn’t exist.

While others answer this question based on which course can prep you best for medicine, I say take the course closest to your heart. You will learn best from the course you love! You will get higher scores in a degree of your own choosing!

No matter how smart you are, you may actually suck in a course you don’t like… and it will show in your grades, which will be one of the things all med schools will be looking at when screening for incoming med students!

To me, the best pre-med is the one that you know you’ll love. Your passion for that course will show in your grades… and in your answers when you finally get that interview for med school.


“I am so amazed by the idea of becoming a doctor. The way they wear white coats with dignity is so fancy! I want to be a doctor, too!”

You just want to look good in a white coat, don’t you?

Haha. Pardon my sarcasm. I just get way too many emails from people who just want to be called doctors.

Anyway, let’s not romanticize medicine too much. Being a doctor is indeed wonderful – saving lives definitely is – but that’s not all there is to it.

If you want to be a doctor simply because it sounds fancy, you might end up disappointed and jaded. Being a doctor is not a fairy tale. It’s hard work, a life of sacrifice and dedication, and a little bit of ugly here and there.

Without mental and emotional preparation, you can lose that fascination you have for medicine, and we don’t want that! So, here are a few things people won’t straightaway tell you about medicine that you should know.


“I’m deathly scared of blood and broken bones. Should I forget my dream of becoming a doctor?”

Oh, for crying out loud, quit now! Don’t be a doctor! Don’t take up medicine! YOU WILL FAIL, HUMAN!!!

Well, did I convince you not to pursue your dream of becoming a doctor? If I told you that you shouldn’t be a doctor, would you have followed my advice?

No? Well, that’s exactly the point of this exercise. The decision, you see, is totally up to you. Only you can truly define your limitations.

Some doctors are afraid of blood (I’m not; I absolutely love blood and everything gory, and I think doctors in general are a morbid lot), but if your fear is crippling, perhaps you can seek help from a professional who can help you deal with your issues before you finally make your decision.

You might also want to read about how I conquered my own fear before it killed my career. Hope you get something useful out of my shortcomings.


“Give me a list of med schools that will accept me based on my NMAT score of [insert NMAT score here]. Answer ASAP.”

Well, hello, Your Highness. Unfortunately, I’m not your slave and you can’t order me around.

Besides, do you have any idea how much time it would have taken me to ask every single med school about their enrolment criteria? Go do your own research.

And while you’re at it, learn to ask questions like the world doesn’t owe you anything. We don’t need doctors even half as entitled as you.

Oh, and you give millennials a bad name. I love millennials, which is why your behavior makes me froth in the mouth.


“I’m the smartest in my class. I deserve to be a doctor. Can you help me?”

Can I help you learn a thing or two about humility, you mean? I’m too afraid to handle your pompousness as I’m still dealing with mine. I’m so, so very sorry.


“How do you study? I want to get a 99+ NMAT score like you did.”

I’m a perfect example of a bad student with good grades. Don’t ask me for study tips unless I offer them because they might do you more harm than good!

I liked to watch movies the night before major exams. I walked out of lectures whenever I got bored.

I once forgot to set my alarm for a morning exam – the professor literally gave me a wakeup call, saying that I would get a failing grade in my nephro module if I didn’t haul my ass to class in ten minutes. (He huffed and puffed while he watched me, sleep marks still on my face and all, as I answered the test.) But hey, I scored 96 in that test, which once again goes to show that I’m a bad student with good grades.

I think I owe him my grade. Forget the fact that I had to finish an exam with an angry doctor glowering at me from item 1 to 100. He didn’t know me personally, but he was so concerned that he asked a classmate for my number and called me.

But I digress. Going back to your question, my story isn’t something worth modeling your life after. There are many study tips out there that really work. What you follow will depend on your learning style and studying preferences.

I say find the style that works for you! You have a unique brain and it deserves a unique study guide, right?

As for getting the same NMAT percentile score as I did, you can start by finding out how NMAT scores are computed and what an NMAT score means.


Have other questions? Ask away!

Leave a comment if you have any questions. Too shy? Send me an email (although I do get a horrific number of queries through email, so good luck with that). I promise that I’ll do my best to read and answer them all.

Perhaps you didn’t find this FAQs section helpful. I understand; the snide remarks do make it more comical than informative. Oh, well, can’t win them all.

I’m about to faint, so goodbye for now! Until next time, when I’m no longer running a fever. Keep it real, future MDs.

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 Dra. Stef. My life is kinda dramatic so bear with me. I was able to start first year of medicine. But before even finishing it, a heartbreaking discovery struck our family, my dad had another woman besides my mom and he provided money to her. Knowing this our family went to several problems dealing everyday this madness that my dad had made. So, making the long story short, he left us. My dad went away and according to him he doesn't want to go back home. My dad earns a lot that is why he is the one providing my tuition for med school. But now because he left who will provide for my med school fees? My mom don't have the ability because she does not earn as much as my dad. This drived me nuts. Being a doctor is my goal in life. I had even wrote a paper showing my timetable towards getting that md after my name but because of the tragedy my dad had made it will all be OVER. The discovery happened in exactly in my third day of midterms exam, after that, my days were dull and I can't even focus. Me, my brother and mom almost cried everyday just overwhelemed of what will now happen to us because financially we are broke. So my mom approached me and ask me this words, "Would you be able to stop medical school for me." I was heartbroken, I cried day and night knowing that my MD goal is all gone. That everything went hell just because of my dad's mistake. All the sleepless nights I spent reaching second semester of first year will go to waste. It was a dead end for me. I was able to finished finals carrying that grudge in my heart. But I made a decision, as my auntie advised me, to stop medical school, to help mom. Now, I got an interview at a local private hospital in our province and looking forward to work. I'm sharing this story because I know there is someone who will need it. I know most of you wants to be a doctor, so do I, but, if that did'nt go as planned, don't feel bad and hate the whole world and die (cuz I did thought of that too). It's not the end. MD is just a title. You could do so many ways today that will make you feel like a doctor. Well I would love to hear thoughts about this. Did I made the right decision? Thanks doctors. Have a great day.

    Ps. I don't know why I wrote this in this section. Sorry. Haha. Peace.

    1. Hello, Paula. I'm so sorry for what you and your family are going through. And I don't mind your sharing this at all.

      I just think you're right when you said it's not the end. I mentioned in this article that you might want to read that not everyone can pursue their calling - at least, not right now. And that's fine.

      There are many ways to contribute to society! However, your calling will be persistent. It's your choice whether you heed it or not (and it might help if you read the article I recommended above).

      I will never be able to tell you if you made the right decision or not. Only you can say that. :) Isn't that good, actually?

      Good luck on the rough days ahead. The storm will pass one day. :)

  2. Hi! This may be off topic but I`m really frustrated about this, do you know any NMAT review center in Pampanga? I can`t really find one :(

    1. Sadly, I don't. I'm guessing Google doesn't offer answers? Best of luck - do share what you discover here as it might be of help to others with the same question. :)

  3. Hello Doc Stef. I'm an incoming freshman and I plan to study before classes start. What subjects or topics should I study?

    1. Wow, you're studying in advance? Good for you! I'm not sure if your curriculum is the same as ours, so I think it's best if you ask someone who graduated from your school. (In case you're an incoming UST med student, I might not be able to help you, either, because I belong to the Student-Directed Learning batch.)