The year is never short of bleak moments, but for a Marist alumnus of Batch 2011, landing fourth in the Physician Licensure Exam (PLE) is a “touching” experience for his family.

Rafael Mendoza rated 88.17% in the board exam held last November 2020. He is a graduate of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health.

“I was excited for myself, but I was happier for my family who supported me since day one. This was more touching since we had two unexpected deaths in the family a few months ago, and I hope this helped a bit in our family’s healing,” he said.

Mendoza never found a dull moment in his stay in medical school where he learned everything that he could.

“It was even more beautiful seeing and applying what we learned when we got to our hospital rotations. I thought this mindset of loving learning was what carried me through the years and—probably the boards, too!” he said.

But if there was a struggle that Mendoza encountered in medical school, it would be during his first year, wherein a semester’s worth of lessons back in college were only discussed in one to two weeks. 

“I also thought the first few weeks of clerkship (the first year in our hospitals) were the most stressful because the hospital was an entirely new environment and you had to get used to the 24-hour duties every few days,” Mendoza added.

It was only when my girlfriend called that I found out I passed and topped the boards.

Dr. Rafael Mendoza

The PLE is the only board exam to take place in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Takers observed health and safety protocols for the test, which included either an observation of a 14-day quarantine or submission of a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“We weren’t given an exact estimate of when they would be released, so we held our breath each passing day after the boards waiting for the results. It was only when my girlfriend called that I found out I passed and topped the boards,” Mendoza shared.

According to him, the distinction he finds himself in right now would be carried for the next few years in his career as a reminder to excel for his family and patients.

Mendoza plans to go to Internal Medicine for his residency training.

“Then let’s see where that takes me,” he said.

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