Thank you for the honor and opportunity to speak in behalf of the 1,597 physicians who passed the August 2010 board examinations for medicine. We are a truly diverse group, graduating from 32 different medical schools, from different cities, provinces and even countries, different family backgrounds, and different religions. We have gathered here today to take an oath that shall forever bind us to the responsibilities of the profession we have chosen. Lest we forget, let us begin with the most essential – a message of gratitude.

First, let me thank our parents and families who supported us through seemingly endless financially and emotionally demanding years. Without them, today would have been impossible.

Dear parents, we promise to never forget what you have given, and even more, what you have given up to make this day a reality. We thank you not simply because you paid for everything, but because you have been our backbones, our protection and our support.

To our alma mater: I have heard and used the phrase so frequently, not understanding until recently what it truly means: “the mother of our souls” and it expresses the affection I feel for my own University of Santo Tomas, as I am sure we each do for our own institutions. To our mentors in the art and science of healing, accept our most sincere gratitude. By sharing your experiences and teaching by example, you have nurtured not only our minds, but also our spirit, our very soul. We shall remember you forever.

Fellow inductees, we once dreamt of becoming doctors, and today that dream has become a reality. The path we chose was not an easy one; it was in fact, very long and winding. We sacrificed time with our loved ones, we went through nine years of sleepless nights and unending examinations, came face to face with the misery of illness and the tragedy of death. What we have achieved is no easy feat, my sincerest congratulations to all.

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A question in our board exam asked if the practice of medicine in the Philippines was a matter of right, or privilege. I answered “privilege”. It might not even be the right answer, but I hold on to that belief. The practice of medicine, no matter where, is to me the greatest privilege given by God. And that privilege that we formally receive today is much more than the authority to now use a Trodat. It is much more than an MD after our names. It is a responsibility like no other, for we have been entrusted with human lives. Like Spiderman’s uncle Ben told him, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.

It is a responsibility like no other, for we have been entrusted with human lives. Like Spiderman’s uncle Ben told him, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.

The Hippocratic Oath, which we all took, asks in essence one thing––it binds us to a life of extreme righteousness, to be, in fact, better than what we are. Taken seriously, this is a tremendous obligation. When I initially contemplated this oath, I had my doubts if I could even begin to fulfill it.

And yet here we are. I am here not due to my own ability but because I had the fortune of being part of a group of students, with whom competition always gave way to camaraderie and solidarity

I realized, therefore, that the key to fulfilling our oath lies in the oath itself: “to hold others in the profession, as our brothers.”

All of us gathered here today, representing different schools, from different parts of the country must realize this need to come together and overcome whatever prejudice we may have against each other. We shall repeatedly cross paths during our residencies, or whatever employment we seek. As essential as friendly competition is in improving ourselves, we must ultimately realize the need to share our different skills, knowledge and values; and in so doing, help each other achieve our goals. In so doing shall we fulfill the solemn oath we make this day.

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The future beckons. We all know today is just another beginning and foremost in our minds is the common dream of becoming the best doctors we can be. Yes, our minds must be filled with knowledge, and our hands skillful––these are indispensable to our practice. But we must realize something that the boards could not test us – our compassion is equally essential. Ultimately, the measure of a good physician will not lie with the honors attained in medical school, not even one’s ranking in the board exams, but by living our lives with the commitment and compassion so essential to our profession.

I read this last quote during my graduation, and I will share it yet again, because we all should remember what Tinsley Harrison said:

“No greater opportunity or obligation can fall the lot of a human being than to be a physician. In the care of the suffering he needs technical skill, scientific knowledge, and human understanding. He who uses these with courage, humility, and wisdom will provide a unique service for his fellow man and will build an enduring edifice of character within himself. The physician should ask of his destiny no more than this, and he should be content with no less.”

Congratulations to us all and may we always seek God’s greater glory in everything we do.

*The guest columnist is the topnotcher of the July physician licensure examinations. Above is an excerpt of her oath-taking speech delivered last September 5 at the Philippine International Convernion Center in Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

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