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Physician licensure exam canceled in Metro Manila

/ 05:46 AM September 10, 2021

Just two days before the board examinations for medical doctors were slated to start, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has issued a cancellation of the Physician Licensure Examination (PLE), but only for Metro Manila.

The PLE will proceed as scheduled on Sept. 11, 12, 18 and 19 in Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi, Lucena, Tacloban, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga.

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The commission said its decision to hold off the PLE was “due to the reversion of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) classification in [the National Capital Region],” after the national government made the likewise last-minute decision on Sept. 7 to defer the easing of the quarantine level in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila remains on MECQ from Sept. 8 to 15.

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The PRC announcement came on the heels of mounting calls from the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges and medical students to postpone the PLE amid burgeoning fears of exposure to the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The appeals for deferment stated logistical and financial burdens on aspiring medical doctors, on top of threats to their health and safety, should in-person exams push through as scheduled.

The PRC said affected examinees may take the next PLE in March “without forfeiture of their examination fees.”

Opportunity cost

However, some board takers were unhappy with the cancellation not only because the decision came on short notice, but because they said they only wanted the exams to be moved to November or December, not completely called off.

“There [is] a big opportunity cost from not taking [the PLE] this year because you’ll have to take it next year already. [That means we won’t] make it into the [next batch for] residency hiring, which usually starts in January,” an examinee said.

The PLE is held twice a year in March and September. Last year, the September board exams were postponed to November.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) had been opposed to calls to delay the exams, citing the country’s dire need for more doctors amid a raging pandemic.

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CHEd Chair Prospero de Vera III last week said that while some were calling for the postponement of the board exams, there were still others who would prefer to push through with them instead.

“There are many students who want to graduate [and] start working,” he said. “And we need additional health workers because of COVID-19.”

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TAGS: licensure exam, Metro Manila, physician, PRC
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