AFTER completing the physician licensure examination a few days ago, Paul Vincent Tio Co, a 26-year old medical graduate of the Cebu Institute of Medicine (CIM), was sure he would not top the list of passers.

The exam, which he described as “very hard,” covered very few of the things he and his

classmates reviewed for three months.

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But last Wednesday, he got a flurry of text messages congratulating him not only for passing the exam but for landing seventh in the top 10 list.

“Disbelief,” he replied when asked what his reaction was after learning of his top

place finish.

“Despite having reviewed for three months, I never expected it to be that hard,” he said of the exam he took last August 7-8 and 14-15.

Co prepared for the board exam not by enrolling in commercial review centers but by organizing group study sessions with his classmates, who all passed.

A middle child of a brood of three, Co is a long-time academic achiever. He graduated valedictorian from high school and finished both his degrees in medical technology and

medicine with magna cum laude honors.

Although his parents are in banking, Co and his two other siblings, who work as nurses, pursued medical degrees.

His parents initially wanted him to become a lawyer but they respected his decision to pursue medicine instead.

Personal touch

“The reason I love medicine is because there’s a very personal touch to it. You deal with people, and it feels good when you deal and talk with patients and when you’re able to help them,” he said.

Co said he owes his success to the CIM’s faculty members and to the kind of environment the school offered him as a student.

“We have a good training here in school. Our faculty members are among the best,” he said. “Here in CIM, it feels so much like home. We know almost everybody.”

Co said during his three-month review with his classmates, he would come to school around 7:30 in the morning and go home at 9 o’clock in the evening.

“He’s a very dedicated student,” said CIM dean Dr. Thelma La Rosa Fernandez.

“The credit really goes to the faculty. They’re the ones who trained our students not only inside but outside the classroom,” she said. “We trained our students to become physicians with a heart.”

She said they promote a “culture of excellence” among their students, and they look forward to keeping their standard.

Generous, genius

Jacqueline Chua, who also passed the medical board exam, described Co as a very “generous” classmate.

“He’s a genius. And he goes out of his way to help others,” she said.

“He’s a very amazing and intelligent student. And he’s very helpful to his classmates,” Dr. Erlinda Posadas, one of Co’s professors, said.

Though his relatives in United States are urging him to work abroad, Co intends to work in the country.

“It’s different when you are at home,” he said.