Medical scholarships OK’d on 2nd reading

THE House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill offering scholarships to college students who want to pursue a degree in medicine.

House Bill (HB) 6756 is titled, “An Act establishing a medical scholarship and return program for deserving students and appropriating funds therefor.”

The House is expected to pass it on third and final reading this afternoon.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, one of the measure’s authors, said the proposed law “is the answer to the lack of doctors in rural areas.”

“It will open the opportunity for poor but deserving students to pursue a degree in medicine and serve their communities in the countryside,” he said.

Rodriguez said the measure would also be the answer to the lack of physicians in areas hit by pandemic like coronavirus disease (COVID-19), since scholarship recipients could be asked to serve in hotspots.

The committees on health, appropriations, and higher education endorsed Bill 6756. Their respective chairpersons - Quezon’s Angelina Tan, Eric Yap of ACT-CIS and Mark Go of Baguio City, and Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos Recto are among its authors.

Under the measure, an applicant for a medical scholarship and return service program must be a Filipino citizen, a graduate or graduating student of a prerequisite course for a doctor of medicine degree, must have passed the entrance examination and complied with other requirements in the state or private college/university where he/she intends to enroll, and must have obtained a national medial admission test score mandated by the Commission on Higher Education and the cut-off required by the state/private school where he/she plans to enroll.

At least one scholar must come from each town throughout the country. If no one qualifies in a particular town, another scholar could be selected from the neighboring municipality.

The proposed law would oblige a graduate to serve in his/her town for at least four years. Refusal would mean he/she would have to return twice the amount the government spent for his/her medical degree.

The proposed financial assistance would cover tuition and other school fees, allowance for books, equipment, supplies, dormitory, clothing, and transportation, fees for internship and medical board review, and other related miscellaneous and living expenses.