Family of topnotchers: Youngest ranks 1st in physician licensure exam
MANILA, Philippines – When University of Santo Tomas (UST) graduate Federico Peralta IV topped the September 2019 physician licensure examination, people who knew him and his siblings might have had one thought in mind: It runs in the family.
Federico, the youngest of 3 siblings, sustained the legacy of his sisters Ana Bianca Eloise and Ana Eryka Elaine who were both among the top 10 passers in the same exams in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
Their parents, Eric and Ana, are both doctors – Eric is an anesthesiologist while Ana is an obstetrician-gynecologist. With their children off on their own journey as doctors, the parents said they were now signing off as “training coaches.”
“The road Ana and I traveled as parents to these three has been long and bumpy. At this point, we can securely rest on the belief that their wings are already strong enough to make it excellently on their own,” Eric proudly said in a Facebook post.
Inspiration at home
Federico and his siblings' interest in the medical profession was natural, as they saw their parents at work.
“Ever since when we were still kids, I think we have always wanted to become doctors. We were often exposed to the life inside the hospital. My parents were still resident doctors when we were young. That is why we also go to the hospital and observe operations if we have no class in school,” Federico said.
His sisters followed their parents' professional path, and excelled in medicine school, both graduating magna cum laude.
When he decided to take the same journey, he would seek help from his sisters whenever he encountered difficult concepts while studying.
“As their little brother, I have been watching them my whole life; and I have seen how they fight and conquer mountains. They have been [my] idols since time immemorial," Federico said.
His eldest sister Ana Bianca Eloise is an internist while Ana Eryka Elaine, like their mother, is an obstetrician-gynecologist.
"Being topnotchers in the physician licensure exams, I have always been pressured and felt that I have to exert greater effort to catch up to [their] achievements. Nevertheless, I am thankful for both of them every single day,” Federico said.
He also recalled the multiple sacrifices that their parents had to go through as they tried to balance parenting with their equally demanding professions.
“I cannot count the number of times that we were supposed to go out as a family, super excited and everything, this and that, then someone will suddenly call my dad on his phone telling him there’s an emergency. There was even a time when we had just parked at the mall, then we had to go home immediately because my father has an emergency case,” Federico said.
Passion to serve
Federico said that he ventured into medicine with eyes wide open. His dream of becoming a medical doctor also stemmed from his thirst for greater knowledge and his dedication to help save as many lives as possible – something his parents had inculcated in all of them.
“My parents also made sure that I understand that being a doctor is not just about the monetary gain, and that the real essence of this profession is more of being committed to lifelong learning and being compassionate to those who need us most,” he said.
Federico consistently ranked first in their batch every year. He graduated as batch valedictorian and was also the clinical clerk of the year, rector's awardee for academic excellence, and summa cum laude with meritissimus during his oral revalida.
“When my eldest sister made it to the top 6, my family was of course very happy. Medyo wala pa pong pressure sa akin that time (There wasn't pressure on me at that time),” Federico recalled.
But when his other sister placed 5th in the physician licensure exam two years later, Federico recalled how the people around him started to raise their expectations.
His friends would jokingly advise him that with the exemplary performance of his sisters, he only had ranks 1 to 4 to fill in when his board exam comes.
“Of course, instead of giving in to pressure, I used that to motivate myself to study especially during the wee hours of the night – when I'm on hospital duty while people are sleeping,” Federico shared.
His journey to medical school, just like for many, wasn’t always smooth-sailing but he was assured of the support and love of his family.
“In terms of academics, it was very demanding. Classes would usually start at 7 am and end at 6 pm. When I arrive home, I have to work hard to study for 2 to 4 quizzes the following day. The cycle then repeats,” Federico added.
He said his only competitor was himself and that he made sure to improve and do better every time. He also had to forego with things he enjoyed so he would have more time to study.
“Regardless of how great you are, there will be lots of moments in med school when you would feel down especially when you did your best to study and even pulled an all-nighter but still get a failing mark. And I believe this is true for other courses too,” he expressed.
During the board exam, he stressed how it was thrice more difficult than he expected, so he wasn’t expecting to be part of the list of topnotchers anymore. But he kept praying to do better.
He received a call from the dean of the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery who told him the good news. When he learned that he made it to the list – and 1st place at that – he was totally surprised and dazed for a few minutes.
(At first, I thought she just called to comfort me but when she revealed the good news, I couldn’t really believe it. I was dazed for 5 minutes. I first called my mom who I overheard crying over the phone after she learned about it.)“At first I thought she just called to comfort me, but then she revealed the good news and hindi po talaga ako makapaniwala. Natulala lang po ako for 5 minutes. I first called my mom na medyo naririnig kong naiiyak po nung nalaman," he narrated.
With the milestones he had achieved so far, Federico felt humbled and blessed to gain the coveted recognition. He hopes to uphold use his skills to be of service to the community and the country.
He attributed his success to his family who has been there to support him in every step of the way. He also hopes to emulate the hard work, integrity and compassion that his parents have shown in their lives as medical doctors.
“I know it's not an easy task raising 3 children especially that all of us chose to pursue the path of medicine. I feel honored and blessed to have both of them,” Federico said.
The next step
Federico aspires to be a general surgeon and plans to subspecialize in minimally invasive surgery.
He has some unsolicited advice to aspiring medical doctors, who he hopes to inspire as well.
“Make sure that your desire to be of service to other people is greater than anything else since entering this profession is not without sacrifices. It is always a shared decision with your parents," he said.
In times of doubt and confusion, he speaks of a timely reminder: "For as long as you remember why you started, you will never lose track of your goals. There is nothing more beautiful to be in a position where we can give more than we can take." – Rappler.com