Med students seek board exam postponement as COVID-19 cases rise

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Med students seek board exam postponement as COVID-19 cases rise
In this April 2020 photo, National Kidney and Transplant Institute sets up a tent which was converted into a receiving area for medical workers to screen possible COVID-19 patients in Quezon City
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Medical students on Wednesday called to postpone the physican licensure examination in September until the country is able to control the new uptick in coronavirus cases.

Pushing through with the exams would pose a great danger to examinees and those administering it, the Philippine Medical Students' Association warned.

"The worsening health crisis also puts a heavy burden on the emotional and mental wellbeing of the examinees," it said, "on top of the taxing physical and academic demands of reviewing, which may cause them not to be in proper shape and health to take the exams."

PMSA said the unity statement, released on August 23, now has over 1,000 signatories from individuals and several organizations. 

PRESS RELEASE August 25, 2021 More than 1k individuals, doctors, personalities support students? call to postpone...

Posted by Philippine Medical Students' Association on Tuesday, 24 August 2021

The Professional Regulations Commission has set the PLE on September 11, 12, 18, and 19. It will be held across sites in Metro Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legaspi, Lucena, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga. 

There is no word yet if the exams would be rescheduled.

Medical students added PLE takers would have to shoulder additional financial and logistical burden should the announcement be made at a later date and "without elbow room" for adjustments.

"Our future doctors deserve to be treated with the same compassion and understanding that they are taught to extend to all of their patients," PMSA said.

Among other things the group called for were specific guidelines on the PLE for all community quarantine levels, and support for examinees such as quarantine facilities and RT-PCR testing, to name a few.

They also urged for financial and medical support, as well as accommodation, to examinees and administrators should they contract the COVID-19. 

"Pushing the four-day face-to-face PLE as COVID-19 cases are soaring and our health system is stretched thin runs contrary to the 'first, do no harm' principle every doctor swears by in their oath," said PMSA national vice chairperson Joyce Brillantes. "Joining the health system to serve as new doctors should not be at the expense of their lives."

The Philippines in recent weeks continued to tally significant increase in coronavirus cases. Experts have said COVID-19 variants such as the Delta may be a factor in that.

On August 23, health authorities reported 18,332 new infections, marking the highest daily rise for the country since the pandemic hit in 2020.

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