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Inklings and Babbles

The Ups and Downs of UST-FMS

I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the past week have searched about medschool applications/ results/ decisions and stumbled upon my blog.

I’ve already blogged about the tedious process of applying last year.  A far as results are concerned, the only thing I know is that the UST Med final list of qualified applicants has been posted this Friday. You may go to the Dean’s office and see for yourself. :) The list, I think, will be available online soon (probably this coming week). Congratulations to all those who passed! I hope to see you around school. :)

Some search terms from my blog stats report also showed that a lot of people typed in things like “UST or  UERM? UST or ASMPH? PLM or UERM?”. Unfortunately, I cannot give a definite answer to those questions. But what I can do is give you a list of the up and downs of being in UST Med for me so far. Hopefully, this can help you decide the med school that’s best for you. :)

Pro # 1: UST-FMS is a well-known and well-performing school.

This is the main factor that pushed me to choose UST-FMS in the end. When you look at the number of passers vs. the non-passers for the boards, you’ll see that UST produces the most number of doctors (among the well-known schools). This fact continues to amaze me because it shows that UST-FMS is capable of turning an ordinary person to someone extraordinary after four years of training.

You can look at my school’s curriculum at the UST-FMS website. What I can personally share is the academic load we go through:

  • Five shiftings per year
  • 1 or 2 long exams for each subject per shifting (except for the fifth)
  • 1 shifting exam for each subject per shifting
  • Almost-everyday short quizzes for each subject
  • Almost-everyday case discussions for different subjects
  • 2 or 3 lectures per day
  • 1 laboratory session (If it’s anatomy day/ histology day), we also have intermittent lab sessions for biochem and physio (though of lesser frequency)
  • Practical exams for anatomy and histology

That’s a rough estimation of what we’ve been through this past year, not including the coming grand final practicals, grand final finals, and comprehensive exam. I can’t really describe it yet, since we would be experiencing this combo for March (please pray for me!!)

During our freshman orientation, the dean also emphasized that UST-FMS has a broad alumni base locally and abroad (since it IS the longest-running medical school in the country). I’m not yet sure how this would be of advantage, but perhaps it will show once you go onto the complicated career track stuff after graduation.

Con # 1: Major adjustment for non-UST graduates

If you’re a social butterfly, then this wouldn’t be a con for you at all. But if you’re a bit socially-challenged like me, I think that one of the biggest obstacles in medschool are finding friends. It takes effort and time especially if you’re surrounded by people who’ve known each other from undergrad. Being one out of the four UPCN students that enrolled in UST, it wasn’t very easy for me to adjust. Good thing I ended up in the same subsection with one of my former batchmates, which made the matter of making new friends less pressing. But do not let this con hinder you!  In time, I was able to adjust and make new friends (thank God!).  :)

Pro # 2: Excellent Faculty

Majority of the faculty members really “do their thing”. Meaning, most of them are really good at what they teach. Though there are a few here and there, who left me unimpressed. Nonetheless, I can assure you that most of our lectures, lab sessions, and SGDs, are handled well; and you will really learn a lot especially from the really OWESOME POSSUM teachers.

Most of the faculty members and staff are approachable, too!  Matters can be brought out into the open and inquiries are entertained. One thing I really appreciated about the departments is that they promptly posted the answer key after each and every quiz/exam. What’s more is that when you disagree about a certain answer, you can approach the departments with a letter for clarification, and if you are able to provide evidence (usually from the reference textbooks) then they will change/ consider the answer. :)

My favorite so far is our faculty for physiology because they really handle the subject well. Almost all the concepts are more or less retained because they have this course structure that encourages repetition for reinforcement. For instance, for one topic, we have one short quiz, one figure-review quiz, a lab session (depending on the topic), a long exam, and a shifting exam. Ewan ko na lang kung walang magretain kahit konti after all that, diba? :)

Con # 2: Some Treat Us Like Children

We have this “attitude” component in our grade, which is more or less used to elicit good behavior. We get penalized for being absent (unexcused), for leaving the room dirty, and stuff like that. While I recognize that this comes with good intent from the faculty, I hate being treated like a child. The use of external reinforcement (grades) is too elementary for me. Aren’t we old enough to be trusted to have the maturity and innate drive to do the right things? Nonetheless, you’ll be surprised to see that even if you are already in grad school, some people just really don’t mature enough. There are students who still tend to be noisy during class, be ruthless and inconsiderate… you get the point. I just take refuge in this fact that some people really need this “attitude” thing to behave well.

Pro # 3: Good Facilities

The first thing that struck me during my first week in medschool was that each and every room in UST-FMS had projectors and Mac computers for the lectures! HAHAHA. Forgive me if this doesn’t strike you at all, but please try to understand that I came from a government-subsidized school where the facilities aren’t that good.

I can assure you that the state of the facilities in the school somehow compensates for the BIG tuition fee. Haha. As an example, let me point out that we have a Medical Informatics Center where you can do research work using TOUCH SCREEN computers!! Again, TOUCH SCREEEEEEEEN! I hope my over-enthusiasm doesn’t make you stop reading. :)

Like other schools, we also have a library, auditoriums, a classroom, some chairs… Haha, you get the point. We also have access to the other facilities of the whole university. And just to add, we have a good “outside” environment too!! Nothing beats walking along  lover’s lane, breathing (somewhat) fresh air, and basking in that university feel. Ok, medyo sumosobra na promotion ko pero promise maganda talaga. HAHAHA. :)

If there’s one complain I have about our building, it’s that the med cafe is too small for the student population and the food is too expensive!!! But this is saved by the fact that Dapitan (the haven of cheap street food and canteens) is just a few steps away from UST. With only 40 or so pesos, you have a hearty meal of sisig/buttered chicken/adobo/name-it-you-got-it. Haha. You just really need to look for the “safe” carinderias which serve clean food. :)

Con # 3: Student Population

Our batch is composed of 500+ individuals which is a tad bit too many for me. Although the classrooms are able to accommodate us all, I think that 100+ students under one wing is too much.  There are a select-few classrooms that I find “unconducive” for learning, because of its size and lay-out. But generally, it’s A-Ok. It just sometimes bothers me that we are SO MANY. I think that our batch, in particular, went a little over the limit of the number of students allowed. Not sure, though.

So I guess if you learn well in a small class, and you find yourself unwilling/unable to adjust to a HUGE class, then UST isn’t the school for you.

Pro and Con # 4: Pseudo-Traditional “Spoonfeeding” Curriculum

The general view about UST is that it has a traditional curriculum, focused more on the theoretical aspect with lectures and exams. This is mostly true, because as compared to other medschools, we are really battered with consecutive quizzes and exams to evaluate our learning. But actually, it’s not wholly traditional! There is also a PBL aspect incorporated in the curriculum in the form of SGDs, lab conferences, and the SCOFYL (you’ll know what this is soon enough! :D).

And personally, I prefer this pseudo-traditional approach. I think that one needs to really understand the theories before applying them. The UST curriculum gives us that, as evidenced by the high board passing rate. I have heard that our graduates also do well in their clerkships/internships/ residencies. :)

Another issue about the school’s curriculum is the spoon-feeding. I will not deny this. Coming from UP, I readily observed that UST definitely spoon-feeds in the sense that almost everything is prepared for us. Almost all departments are fond of giving hand-outs (which are very useful, if I may add). But really, other than this, you’re on your own. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how much a student is willing to take in and study.

The only con I see with the curriculum is that it is somewhat conducive to the G.C. (aka grade conscious) culture. Which, in my opinion, shouldn’t be the case. Studying should be driven by learning and not solely by high grades. But that’s just me generalizing and being ideal. It all really depends on what kind of student you want to be! To be honest, I’m also guilty of being grade-hungry sometimes, but I really make a conscious effort not to. :)

And because I’m sleeeeeeepy and out of ideas, I’ll just leave this post at this point and add to the list in the following days. I hope that this little guide helps you come up with the best decision!!

Just always remember that medschool should fit you perfectly like a velvet glove. Go to a school that you know you will love, because when things go tough (academically), having a good school environment and school pride will be one of the major factors that will push you to finish med. :)

Excited for med? Here’s a book guide for the texts to read for 1st year. :)

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About Sachi

Nurse. Future Doctor. Blogs about anything and everything.

Discussion

27 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of UST-FMS

  1. Hi Sachi, its me again. HAHAHA As always, I have again enjoyed reading your blog. Moreover, this particular post excites cause, I GOT IN!!! Thanks for all your help and see you next school year! Now I know what I have to prepare for :)

    Posted by Troy | March 8, 2013, 7:38 am
  2. I love your blog! Idol! It’s freshmen year for me this coming June! I guess, I’ll see you around? :)

    Posted by Sam | May 3, 2013, 4:02 pm
    • Hi Sam! Thanks! I always feel giddy and excited when people message me here. :) Congratulations for getting in USTFMS! We’ll definitely be crossing paths along the corridors. :) Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the summer in prep for med. :) See you!

      Posted by sachified | May 3, 2013, 4:14 pm
  3. Hi Sachi! :) I’m loving your blog and your fair posts. I’m also an incoming freshman like probably everyone else here. So excited for med school this june!

    Posted by RJ | May 4, 2013, 7:48 pm
  4. Hi Sachi! First I would like to say that as a foreign applicant, I’ve been searching through the internet for blogs and such regarding med school in the Philippines and I enjoyed reading your blog the most! UST FMS is my top choice pero bahala na kung saan ako matanggap (I took the NMAT in Los Angeles nung Nov 23 and still awaiting results pero I’m not keeping my hopes up for a good score haha). How is the workload like sa UST FMS? And marami ka bang foreign classmates? I’ve heard yung iba daw they end up “quitting” for certain reasons. What do you think about this? Salamat and hope to hear from you soon :)

    Posted by Pierre | December 10, 2013, 10:13 am
    • Hi Pierre!

      Sorry it took so long for me to reply :( Anyway, I’m so touched by your message! Thank you! I appreciate it that you are able to appreciate my humble blog :D

      UST FMS is great over-all, the workload can be tough at times but manageable :) I do hope you get in!!! From my section of 100+ students I think there are around 5 foreign students :) So for the whole batch, an estimate would be probably around 20-25 foreign students? :)

      Several people quit med for several reasons: failing grades, no motivation, etc., but I think if you really feel in your heart that you want to be a doctor, nothing can ever stop you :) Important talaga ang passion sa profession na ito. I know some people who are really intelligent but their hearts aren’t really for med so they ended up quitting and pursuing their other career of choice. But if you really want to heal and serve people, then you won’t have a problem embracing it with open arms :D

      I wish you all the best in your applications! Please keep me posted. Good luck, future doctor! :)

      Posted by Sachi | December 23, 2013, 2:03 pm
      • Thanks for your reply Sachi! And no worries, I know your med school schedule is hectic hehe. I really enjoy your blog the most because I admire your eloquence! I think I’ve read almost every single blog that you have here haha.

        Going back to the topic of medical school, it’s funny how I once heard na “the easy part is getting into med school, staying in is the hard part.” Pero you know what, you’re right. Ako kasi I’m just an average student, di ako matalino haha pero I really want to pursue medicine and to excel in being a physician–thus I’m willing to put in the necessary effort and determination :D That being said, kahit na UST ang top choice ko, I’d be happy to get in elsewhere if someone else deserves the spot I’m competing for- maybe UERM. At the end of the day, it’s really up to the student to perform well right? :)

        I appreciate your input and time! I hope to share with you the good news when the results come out–hopefully I can then tell you that I might bump into you at UST campus haha. Hope you don’t mind if I bother you with more questions in the future (as a prospective foreign student, I may have a handful of questions haha)! Maraming salamat Sachi!

        Posted by Pierre | December 24, 2013, 11:36 am
      • Hi ulit Pierre!

        One of my foreign student classmates, Martin commented in reply to your comment in this post :) you can see it below :)

        Hope it provides you with more input for your application!! :)

        Posted by Sachi | December 28, 2013, 6:02 pm
  5. Hi Pierre,
    I am one of Sachi’s classmate at UST FMS (hi Sachi, I told you I read your blog ;) ). As Sachi mentioned in the post there 5 foreign students in our section. Well, I am actually one of the 5. Your comment got my attention because I can totally relate to your experience. During my application I had almost no idea on what to expect upon getting into med school in the Philippines. Most of the information I have was only from blogs and forums that I read online. Back then I haven’t seen UST first hand and the entire application process was done by my relatives as I was still out of the country.
    Also, just like you I am just an average student. But shouldnt stop you. You see, If you really like what you’re studying and you’re ultimate goal is to learn in order to become a good physician, then you already have the right mindset and I don’t see any reason why you will not succeed :)
    I graduated from the University of Toronto (one of the top universities in the world) and i will tell you right now that UST FMS is in a whole different level. The exams and quizzes are ‘kaya’ or doable, sometimes even easier compared to those from my undergrad, but the challenge is the work load! they will give you so much- more than you can imagine and you should be able to absorb them all in a short period of time….I guess time management is key (and well, some people are more blessed than others). Nevertheless, med school is not walk in the park. But as i said, with the right mindset and determination, you should do just fine.
    I hope this helps. Happy New Year!)

    Posted by Martin | December 28, 2013, 5:24 pm
    • Hi Martin!! Hahahahahaha kapag bakasyon talaga napapabisita mga tao dito ;) at buti sakto bilang ko ng foreign students phewww!

      Thanks sa input!!! Cocommentan ko ulit si Pierre para makareceive siya ng email and see your comment :) after all, kayo tlaga makakarelate sa isa’t-isa!! Yay!! :) happy new year!!

      Posted by Sachi | December 28, 2013, 6:00 pm
      • Hi Martin! I appreciate your time in responding to my comment. It’s good to relate with someone that was in the same situation that I’m in right now. Yes- the workload is my “concern” so to speak- I came from University of California San Diego and the grade in most, if not all, of my classes is based on 2 midterms and 1 final. And that’s it for the whole quarter/semester (10 weeks). And a “full load” is 12 units, which is usually 3 classes. 2 midterms and 1 final may not seem to difficult but that means when the midterm comes around the 5th week, you have 4-5 weeks worth of dense material to know for the exam. Same thing with the final exam- sometimes it’s comprehensive, so keeping up with the material and NOT procrastinating is the key- which is something that I failed at haha because of the lack of pressure in the idea that “the midterm is still 5weeks away…” but then it sneaks up on you and next thing you know you have the exam in a couple of days and here you are trying to cram.

        Back to UST FMS and my “concern”- what slightly intimidated me was what Sachi mentioned in her blog- “almost everyday short quizzes” and the other things haha. Pero I know that it’s something that you can adjust to. I’ve heard that even in US med schools, the workload is nothing like undergrad- that it is way more. But maybe this is not even comparable to what UST FMS has to offer although I think that this can bring out the best in students and builds character hehe.

        Again, maraming salamat to you Martin and to you Sachi. I truly appreciate your time in responding. It inspires me to continue my pursuit of the ultimate goal haha! Happy New Year!

        Posted by Pierre | December 28, 2013, 8:10 pm
  6. Hi,what if nmat is lower thn the cut off?is there still a chance to enter ust?

    Posted by Genevieve | December 30, 2013, 10:42 am
    • Hello! :)
      Hmmm… I can’t give a definite answer to that because a lot of factors influence the success of your application. :) To be on the safe side, it is ideal to be within the cut-off. :) But based on several chats from my classmates who graduate from UST for undergrad, they are more flexible with the “cut-off” if you are an alumni. :) Also, I think it helps if you have any sort of connection in the school if you want to have a greater chance. :)

      I do not have connections and I’m not a UST Alumni, but I still got in so I suppose your pre-med class standing (grades), NMAT score, and resume still takes precedence over these “extraneous” factors. :) Good luck! :)

      Posted by Sachi | January 2, 2014, 6:01 am
  7. hi Sachi! you don’t actually know me but i stumbled upon this blog of yours before classes started. i was a bit apprehensive but reading your blog entries throughout your 1st year gave me a chance to mentally prepared myself for med. thank you! you have no idea how this helped me.
    on a side note, how did you study for those grand practical exams?

    Posted by Nicole Chan | January 27, 2014, 9:06 pm
    • Hi Nicole!

      For the grand practicals, a good tip would be just to stick with the basics. Most of the questions won’t tackle the specifics and trivial so don’t worry too much. For anatomy, I think they have this list of structures that are essential to know for the grand practicals. But sticking to the listed structures in the manual is of help too. :)

      Posted by Sachi | February 2, 2014, 12:23 am
  8. Hi Sachi, I’m still in my 3rd year in undergrad and I’m thinking of pursuing medicine. May I ask how much is the tuition fee for the first year? And for the following years if you happen to know? :)

    Posted by Andrea | February 12, 2014, 4:38 pm
    • You’re a nurse! Cool! Im currently taking up nursing. I would be very very grateful if you would reply to me. The tuition fee means a lot for me and my parents if I go on to medicine or not. Anyways, I’m glad I found your site! :)))

      Posted by Andrea | February 16, 2014, 2:42 am
      • Hi Andrea!

        I’ve already replied to your inquiry about the tuition fee in UST. Sorry it’s late! Anyway, if finances are a major barrier, there are many schools that offer scholarships generously (like St. Luke’s and UERM) and government medical schools that have subsidized tuition fees (like PLM, UP). You might want to look them up. :)

        Posted by Sachi | June 5, 2014, 2:15 pm
    • Hi! Tuition fees in UST from 1st-3rd year range from 112-120,000 pesos per semester. :) For clerkship it’s more or less 200,000+ pesos for the whole year. :)

      Posted by Sachi | June 5, 2014, 2:14 pm
  9. Hi! Thank you for your blog! I found it really helpful. Im an nursing graduate too and a hopeful med student. And UST is my number 1 choice for med school. I just want to clarify some “rumors” regarding application to UST. Is it true that they ask for some kind of “donations” when you apply at UST? Thank you!

    Posted by Kevin Chua (@kebhino) | March 27, 2014, 1:55 pm
    • Hi Kevin!

      I haven’t heard of such “donations”!!! Hehehe. :) Just do your best for the NMAT and with an excellent undergraduate background, I hope you make it! God bless! :)

      Posted by Sachi | June 5, 2014, 2:29 pm
  10. Hi :) I’m from UP too and UST FMS has been my dream med school since highschool. Is it okay for me to ask for your NMAT score, and GWA?? :))

    Posted by Christine | June 5, 2014, 4:26 am
    • Hi Christine, fellow Iska!

      My NMAT scores are (I took it twice) 91 and 97 :) For my GWA, I can’t remember! But I graduated cum laude. :)

      I hope you get in UST-FMS! Update me when you do! Best of luck! :)

      Posted by Sachi | June 5, 2014, 1:19 pm

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