D4EVF Scholar Hurdles Philippine Medical Board Exams


As part of their mission as a Foundation, over the years the Dentistry For Every Village Foundation has supported a handful of individuals in their education.

Today November 11, 2023, an awesome news was received by the Foundation indicating that their first medical school scholar that recently completed his internship at the Divine Word Hospital at Tacloban City, Leyte passed the tough Licensure Examinations for Physicians in the Philippines. He was one of the 4083 out of 6456 examinees that passed the examinations conducted from October 20 through October 28, 2023.

Neil Balcera Gavino Jr., was a young, registered nurse at the St Scholastica’s Mission Hospital at Barangay Cabab-toan, Pambujan, Northern Samar when the Foundation crew of volunteer dentists met him at one of their dental missions.

Gavino was one of the volunteer RN’s that worked with the crew. At that mission his outstanding demeanor, knowledge of procedures and bed side manners caught the attention of the Foundation President, Dr. Ed de la Vega.

At one of the breaks during the mission, de la Vega had an opportunity to talk at length with Gavino. The more he spoke to him, the more he was convinced that the young man, given an opportunity has a tremendous potential to go further in his career.

Initially, Gavino indicated his desire to further his nursing education in the hopes that he can be far better as a nurse. However, de la Vega talked him into going up the career ladder by aiming for medical school.

Gavino indicated that was really his desire, but financial constraints prevent him from pursuing that goal.

De la Vega then gave him a challenge. If he gets admitted at a medical school, the Foundation will support him until he is done with his studies. Gavino wholeheartedly accepted the challenge!

Gavino, upon the recommendations of de la Vega, picked the Cagayan Valley State University at Tuguegarao, Cagayan. De la Vega has heard of good things about that medical school so he thought it will be worthwhile for Gavino to go to school there. For one, the cost of living in Cagayan is far lesser than in Metro Manila where most of the big medical schools are located. Secondly, the student-faculty ratio is above average. Gavino passed all the requirements for admissions and was thus accepted.

Gavino, supported by the Foundation moved to Tuguegarao City and enrolled at the famed northeast Luzon state university. After his first year, in medical school, owing to his great academic achievements, Gavino won some scholarship support from the UniLab Philippines, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the country.

The four-year medical school was tough and the interruptions by the Covid pandemic in 2020 made it even tougher, adding more challenges to the clinical settings part of his training.

Gavino frequently encouraged by de la Vega and his wife Marcela, who herself is a RN with a BSN and MS degrees and years of experiences as an educator, kept his focus on his goal and completed four years of medical school. He graduated as scheduled with the class of 2022.

Right after medical school, he got accepted at an internship program at the Divine Word Hospital. DWH is one of the top hospitals in the Visayas region. It is run by the Sisters of St. Scholastica. Gavino easily completed the required one-year program and then set his sight on the Medical Licensing Examinations.

Gavino took the October 2023 exams against the advised of some of his mentors including his medical school Dean. They hinted that he was too raw to tackle the tough examinations. But de la Vega encouraged him to proceed promising him an all-out support. With that, he buckled down and prepared for the examinations. Thankfully, the Sisters at St Scholastica in Manila extend a hand by providing him with board and lodging in Manila while Gavino studied for his examinations.

True to form, Gavino did not disappoint. Today he got word that he passed the exams with flying colors and is now officially a licensed medical doctor in the Philippines.

However, earning a medical license is not the end of his long journey in the world of medicine. Gavino needs to go on a residency program to further hone his medical skills. Hopefully, he can do that at a residency program at the Divine Word Hospital.

It would not be a surprise however, if he suddenly goes abroad and trains at a hospital in the USA. Hopefully that happens so that after completing a US residency program, he can return to the Philippines to share his new-found experiences with the Filipino people.

That would complete is goals as a medical professional.

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