A Seventh-day Adventist medical student has earned the top spot on the Philippines Physician Licensure exam according to the March 15, 2018, results released by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). Jerald Pelayo is the fourth Adventist medical student to take the top spot on the national exam in the past 12 years. He also earned first-place on the national nursing board exam in 2011.
Before graduating from the University of the East Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC), Pelayo spent his preparatory years at East Visayan Academy (EVA), an Adventist high school in the central Philippines, and then Mountain View College (MVC), an Adventist college in the south, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2011.
Pelayo notes the impact of Adventist education on his achievement. “It played a significant role for me. Adventist education provided me with wholistic learning which helped me to balance different aspects of my life,” he emphasized.
This balance has enabled him to become the first medical doctor in his family. Looking back to his childhood days, Pelayo remembers the scarcity of medical services in their remote town — a situation that motivated his career path.
“When I was still a child, I wanted to become a medical missionary. That has always been my inspiration. My motivation all throughout this journey is to serve our less fortunate families,” Pelayo added.
He also remembers learning about the example of Jesus who spent more time in ministering to the needs of the people, going from one place to another, and healing more than preaching. This genuine example solidified his medical career choice.
For Pelayo, his top score on the nursing exam was another confirmation from God that he was to be a physician. As he prepared, he prayed, “Lord, please use the results of this exam and tell me where you want me to go.” During the 2011 licensure examination, he prayed specifically that if his rank was between 1 to 5, he would study in UERMMMC [with a sole medical focus] and if his rank was from 6 to 10, then he would study in the West Visayan State University. After ranking first in 2011, Pelayo headed to UERMMMC to continue his medical journey.
Pelayo said Adventist neurosurgeon Ben Carson has been for him a source of inspiration. Currently, Pelayo is set to take an exam in the US that, he hopes, will further equip him to achieve his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon like Carson. In light of this, he has specific plans while waiting for his residency next year.
“I was invited by my alma matter to teach in my school. I am also readying myself to apply for a residency program and hopefully, by God’s grace, study at John Hopkins University where Carson studied,” Pelayo explained.
In addition to Pelayo, two other Adventists also scored in the top 10 on the exam: Don Hale Hilario of Manila Central University Caloocan and Shannen Kaye Apolinario of Far Eastern University – Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation. Both tied for ninth place and earned undergraduate degrees from the Adventist University of the Philippines in Putting Kahoy, Silang, Cavite.
A total of 56 Adventists passed the exam. In recent years, an increasing number of Adventist students in the Philippines have passed and earned top scores on national exams in medicine, nursing, medical technology, physical therapy, and dentistry. Their Adventist alma maters attribute this trend to God’s blessing, thorough exam preparation, and quality Adventist education on the undergraduate and prior levels.
Pelayo’s achievement is already inspiring other young people, but he wants them to know that excellence is not defined by merely topping the board exam but “by living out the things in your life [God has given] that you can offer [others].” Indeed, “excellence is the result [seen] in the lives of the people that you have touched,” he said.