For Dr. Al Patrick Alajas, topping physicians’ exams just the beginning
By Deneb Batucan
HARD work does pay off in the end. Just ask Dr. Al Patrick Alajas, who topped the March 2016 Physician Licensure Examination with a rating of 88.67 percent after toiling through days and nights of studying.
“Honestly, I was vying to get a spot in the top 10,” he said. “But topping the exams… I couldn’t believe it.”
Hailing from Punta Princesa in Cebu City, Al studied nursing as his premed at Cebu Normal University where he graduated in 2010. During his fourth year in college, he heard about the scholarship for medicine offered at the Southwestern University – Matias H. Aznar Memorial College of Medicine. Al immediately grabbed the opportunity and started taking up medicine in 2010. Al, as he would say, was a normal, average student.
As a scholar, his tuition fee was already covered, but the numerous, expensive medicine books still burned a hole in his parents’ pockets.
“Every subject has a required book, which costs a lot. So what I do is I study in the library. But the downside was I could only borrow books during the afternoon, so during days when I only have morning classes, I had to wait until 5 p.m. so I can bring home the books and study at home,” Al shared.
Even with some struggles, Al was determined to finish medicine. “I always bear in mind my scholarship, that I should not put it to waste. Not everybody is given the privilege to study medicine for free. I also think of my mom and siblings. In the future, I want to help them have a more comfortable living,” he said.
Aiming for a spot
When Al was taking the Physician Licensure Exams, he aimed to earn a spot in the top 10. But when he was taking the test, he wasn’t a hundred percent sure that he would get a spot. “The exam was so hard. It was five days of exams with over 1,200 multiple choice items,” he recalled.
After two days, the exam results were released. Al didn’t have an internet connection at home, so he was relying on his friends and classmates to give him the good news. “I thought that if someone called me, I knew I passed,” he said.
But come six in the evening, his phone still wasn’t ringing. He didn’t think much about it and just went on and ate dinner and hung out in their sala. But when he went upstairs to check on his phone, he was shocked. “There were so many missed calls and text messages. That was when I learned I topped the board exams,” he said.
Al couldn’t believe it. “I can’t really describe what went on in my head that time I learned the news. Everything around me seemed to go very fast. It was overwhelming,” he said.
Reading and more
Al’s secret to his success is consistent hard work. He continuously learns about his field by reading, reading and reading some more. But that does not mean that Al never rests.
“I study a lot, but when I feel like I’m already sleepy or tired and what I’m reading isn’t going inside my head, I take a break. It’s important to take a break from time to time. Studying becomes useless when your brain is tired. All your reading won’t stick to your mind,” he said. “When I’m refreshed, my brain works faster.”
As of now, Al is taking a well-deserved break and relishing the fruits of his labor. He’s considering internal medicine or radiology as his specialization. And even when topping the board exams is a great feat in itself, there’s a greater challenge when he goes out into the world with doctor now attached to his name.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: 88 Degrees Cafe