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Lone Cebuano nursing topnotcher shares secret to success: Self-care

Nursing topnotcher

Nathaniel Dean Gador Arcipe. | contributed

CEBU CITY, Philippines—In a world where change is a constant phenomenon and every second counts in the grand scheme of things, sometimes, it pays to take a breather to see what’s best for you and your body.

This kind of thinking is what Registered Nurse Nathaniel Dean Gador Arcipe said led to him landing at the tenth spot of the May 2023 Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination.

The Professional Regulation Commission released the NLE results on June 10 and revealed that 10,764 out of 14,364 exam takers passed the exams. 

The 24 year-old from Moalboal town in southwestern Cebu made it to the top ten highest scorers in the list, along with 12 others.

Arcipe, a graduate of Southwestern University (SWU), garnered an average rating of 89.60 percent and is the lone topnotcher from Cebu.

READ: SWU nursing graduate is Cebu’s lone topnotcher in May 2023 Nursing Licensure Exams

This news came as a shock to Arcipe as he was doubting if he did good enough to pass.

As a matter of fact, he skipped passed the top part of the page when he first checked the list of passers. 

But when one of his previous teachers sent him a message of congratulations along with the news, he recalled a myriad of emotions coming unto him in full circle.

Arcipe, fondly known by his friends and family as “Nat-Nat,” received warm congratulations and loud cheers from not only his family but also his neighbors in their little community the night the list was posted.

Nursing not original plan 

He recalled being overwhelmed with happiness when he saw the smile on his mother’s face as she bragged about her son’s achievement to everyone around them. 

For him, it was that exact moment that made him realize that all his hardships were worth it.

Being hit with the reality that he is now finally a registered nurse, Arcipe had a moment of nostalgia that brought him back to the early days when he decided that he wanted to be a nurse.

Nursing wasn’t his original plan. As a child, he had hopes of becoming a biologist one day because of his fascination with science that deals with life and of living organisms. 

But when he was in high school, he met a teacher, who was also a registered nurse, who became his role model and inspired him to take up nursing. With further encouragement from his relatives, he made the final decision of what his career would be.


Unfortunately, things were not as smooth-sailing as he hoped after that. 

Faced with financial problems, it became a challenge for him to continue his studies in the school he wanted to go to. 

Arcipe, however, was determined to achieve his dream no matter what and so he applied for a scholarship.

Fortunately, he was granted a full scholarship and with the help of a relative, he was able to enroll.

College was not easy, said Arcipe. Even as an achiever who found learning fascinating, entering college served as an eye-opener for him on the struggles of time management. Juggling his educational requirements with duties at the hospital as a student-nurse, as well as family matters, he admitted that the four years took a toll on him.

And so, after he graduated as cum laude in June of 2022, he decided to take a much needed mental health break.

Arcipe said that he acknowledged how privileged he is to be able to take a short break after what he experienced. And because of financial difficulties, he ultimately decided that it was the best thing to do. 

Prioritizing mental health

During this time, he prioritized his mental, emotional, and physical health to recharge him for the start of his reviews. After a few months, he regained enough motivation to begin reviewing for the board exam. 

Thinking that his parents were proud of him no matter what happens, he went inside the exam room on the day of the exam thinking – “Wow, this is it!”

Arcipe said that instead of pressuring himself to achieve a high score, he told himself that he was ready to accept whatever the results were because he gave it his all. The only thing he could do was leave the rest to the Lord.

And a month later, he found out that his hard work and positive attitude truly paid off.

READ MORE: Nursing topnotcher admits she isn’t studious

For Arcipe, there were many factors that played as the key to his success in the NLE. Among them was his motivation to make his family proud, his faith in God, and most importantly, his belief that taking care of oneself must always be a priority. 

“I went by the principle of ‘go with the flow at your own space.’ It’s not a race. If you just let things flow naturally, if you follow your own pace and you don’t pressure yourself, you will achieve your greatest potential, “ he said.

Arcipe holds great importance to a person’s mental health and how it affects lives in general. 

“It’s just as important as your physical health. If your physical health is good but your mental health is not at its best shape, you will still have a hard time. I learned that you need to take care of all the dimensions: your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health,” he said.

‘Overwhelming joy’

During his years in the university, he realized that the best way to succeed in anything is not just to work hard but to also prioritize yourself.

His theory was proven to be effective for him judging by his achievements of graduating as cum laude and passing the boards as a topnotcher. 

Michelle Bathan-Yu, Dean of the SWU  College of Nursing, also acknowledged Arcipe’s abilities recalling his early days as a first-year student. 

“It is really an overwhelming joy what he brings to the College of Nusing so we’re happy, really happy. We’re happy. We’re very much happy that he brings honor to his scholarship and he puts meaning in the scholarship that he has. And I believe that it is not only the college of nursing that has this kind of joy that we experience but the entire South Western University,” she expressed on his amazing achievement.

READ MORE: Nursing topnotcher’s recipe for success: Study hard, pray harder

For his future plans, Arcipe is planning to pursue a master’s degree in order to further widen his knowledge.

This carefree and happy-go-lucky nurse is more than ready to provide service to patients and provide a smile to their faces.

As a young student who once doubted his capabilities, Arcipe wants to share some advice to those who are pushing themselves for their dream.

“Take care of all dimensions of yourself. Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself over the limit. If your body is alerting you that you can’t do this anymore at his hour, listen to what it is saying. Do what your body needs. If you need to sleep, you sleep. If you’re hungry, eat. If you need a break, take a break. Take good care of your body and mind,” he said. 


TAGS: Cebuano, Moalboal, nursing, SWU, topnotcher
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