Healthcare Blog of Dr. Remo Aguilar

10 Financial Tips for Medical Students

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Pursuing a career in medicine is one topic I’m often asked during career talks and speaking engagements. Most questions under this topic fall into distinct but interdependent subgroup of questions  known as the “what”, “when”, “where” and “how”.  A few dared ask the “why”. Surprisingly, majority of the few  who asked the “why”  we’re already doctors !

Here’s one question posted in the comment section of a post in this blog. 

Hi, I’m Ian Patrick from Pampanga, I really would like to become a doctor since the day I graduated nursing in 2008. My father decided to loan our 1.7 hectare land for me to pursue the degree. I would like to ask for any suggestion where or what type of bank can we go to, or is there other option other than going to banks here in the Philippines. I really would like to go to med school and I think this is the only way for me and my family to generate money. Thank you.

As far a I know, you can sell a parcel of land to most banks and use the money to finance your medical education. The process of selling land varies from one bank to another. You can directly ask banks of these processes but make sure you have the necessary documents for your parcel of land. Selling properties to a bank is tedious, would take some time ( valuation-market assessment-actual sale) and may not yield the highest amount you expect from the sell of your land. Taxes and fees for this transaction should also be considered.

Selling the land to third parties without legal business identities is also risky. I’m not aware of any bank that accept a parcel of land as collateral to subsidize a medical education. I would not advise you to use your land as a collateral for a personal loan because the interest rates are usually sky high. My family tried this and was only able to fully pay the debt 20 years after. The interest we paid is five times the initial loaned amount!

I hope this answers your question Patrick.

To help out Patrick and (potential) medical students who are roughly in the same circumstances as he is, here are financial tips that will save you some expense during med school.

  1. Choose a quality medical school with the least tuition fees. Many state colleges and universities in the Philippines have medical schools that are at par or even better than some private medical schools.
  2. Choose a medical school located within or near your place or potential place of practice. Saves you the lodging and transportation expenses.
  3. Choose a medical school located in an area where the cost of living is relatively cheaper. Regional state colleges and universities have medical schools too.
  4. Get a scholarship, if you can. Or if the scholarship is some sort of study now pay later scheme, choose the one that offers a “pay out” maximum of 1:2 ratio (e.g. 1 year of study equivalent to two years of service). A ratio larger than that is typically costly when you look at the expense -payment ratio. (±300%)!
  5. Never sell or loan every asset your family have  and hope you’d be able to pay this right after you graduate medicine. Yes, you will have a job right after med school but I doubt it that would be even enough to even buy you your own car.
  6. Borrow books if you can. Avoid buying books that will probably have another edition in 3-5 years. Maximize your library card! This will push you to efficiently study and maximize reading time.
  7. I do not recommend marrying during med school, unless of course you’re marrying a millionaire who would subsidize your medical education. A wedding will cost you at least a semester of medical education expense! What’s five years of waiting anyway when you’re too busy hurdling exams and duty schedules?
  8. Get a job during summer breaks and add that income to your medical education’s fund!  Just don’t do part time jobs during med school proper or it will wreak havoc on your grades. Take that from me :).
  9. Join a like minded group of medical students that offer possibilities of sharing resources in med school like books and instruments . Cut off the partying expense however. Admit it, you’re in med school to study medicine. You may party all you want when you pass the boards.
  10. Finally, never pursue a career in medicine with the monetary income as your primary goal after med school.  You’d be frustrated. Yes, you will have a job and you will not go hungry as a doctor. But if you aim to get into Forbes’ Top 100 Richest People via medicine alone, good luck.

You have to finish “doctor of medicine” degree from a recognised medical school and pass the Professional Regulations Commission’s licensure exam to practice medicine in the Philippines.  Then you have to decide on what path will you take in the vast field of medicine. Are you going to be a general practitioner? A community physician? A public health physician? or take further training for specialization? This will definitely entail additional trainings depending on the field or niche you decide to practice. Still other fields require specialty board exams to fully practice that field. I’m outlining these, because these are the first few tangible short term goals you should have if you are eyeing a career in medicine. All financial considerations must be tailored efficiently towards achieving these goals. Any expense that is not contributing to achieving these goals should be stripped off your “budget” and realigned to your medical education fund!

If you have reactions or additional tips to offer, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment in this post.


Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (

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