I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

One way to decongest UP-Medicine

Not that there’s a congestion problem, of course, but this latest development (reported by the Philippie Star) could really empty the corridors of the UP Med School.

Freshman students entering the University of the Philippines’ College of Medicine next year will be required to serve as doctors in the Philippines for three years, with violators to be fined more than P1 million.

Dr. Alberto Roxas, UP College of Medicine dean, said 2005 figures estimated the fine at P1.8 million, but the amount could increase by 2014 when the freshmen in 2009 would be graduating.

“Their tuition is only about 17 percent of the total cost of medical education,” he said. “The government subsidizes the remaining 83 percent.
If you are subsidized by the government, you really have to serve.”

Roxas said the 2014 UP medical graduates will be required to do a three-year return service in public health (clinic, management of programs, policy); academe, research or private clinical practice.

“For as long as these are done in his/her capacity as a physician and in any part of the Philippines,” he said.

Roxas said the return service must be completed within five years after graduation from the UP College of Medicine.
“I’m not saying ‘Don’t go abroad,’” he said. “If you’re good, go abroad. If you think that’s what’s best for you, go. But if you go to UP, you have to serve your country first… What’s good if you are the best mind if you don’t serve your country?”

Roxas estimates that starting 2014 and up to 2017, 480 medical doctors from UP would be available in the country at any given time.

“This is because some120 students will serve under the mandatory return service agreement every school year,” he said.

Roxas said it would not be easy for the 2014 graduates to breach the return service agreement.

“When they go abroad, their medical education credentials have to be authenticated by the dean of the College of Medicine,” he said.

“If they have not complied, I will not give them authentication.”

Like I said, I think it’s a small enough inconvenience for people to bear for the sake of the nation. And it’s great that someone – or at least a group of people – actually went ahead and responded to a call for … I don’t know … call it ‘responsible citizenship,’ despite the inevitable backlash. ‘course, I hope no one complains about this move; especially not the students or their parents. After all, as the Dean said, their tuition only comes up to about 17% of the actual cost of a medical education.

Still, I really think that this move – as laudable as it is – will negatively impact on UP-Med’s enrollment.


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3 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    I don’t know what tuition to the university runs (i.e. how large 17% is) but to me the biggest issue is going to be that people are paying at all. A lot of people have difficulty feeling obligated if they’ve paid, especially if the subsidies aren’t up front (again, don’t know whether they are or not). Conceivably, it would be easier for the government to pay for the full education (what’s 17% more after all) with the explicit idea of service after graduation.

    However, ignoring this issue of perception, I don’t see what the problem is. In the US the Army or ROTC or whatever military outfit frequently pays for education (and offers other benefits) in return for a set amount of service (something approximating 4 years). If you want to go to school and you want it to be paid for, 3 years of service in exchange for however many years of school (undergrad is 4, med is 4-5 or something here) get paid for is entirely fair. Not that I’m a warmonger, far from it, but it’s still a fair deal.

    However, retroactively pinning it on students who are already in med school would be inexcusable. Students should be aware of the terms before entering the program and not get stuck with them after the fact. As long as this criteria is met, I agree with it.

    As for enrollment, there might be an initial drop off, but there will likely always be lots of money to be made as a doctor in the US and other such countries and 3 years at a lower salary in your home country still leaves like 30+ years before retirement to amalgamate wealth.

  2. J says:

    At least UP is a state U. And I have to admit that it has the right to demand its students to serve the state for sometime.

    But, as I’ve commented on your last post, I think this should not apply to all medicine graduates/students. 😀

  3. Noel says:

    Whether the student gets 25%-scholarship or 75%-scholarship, the requirement is 3-years-service, right?

    This is only a slight inconvenience…. I agree.

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