The 2nd General Assembly of school year 2016-2017 was the mark of a nearing consequential milestone for St. Luke’s College of Medicine towards becoming one of the best medical schools there is. Not only were students and doctors alike educated through a comprehensive hospital case, but the long-awaited results for our school-wide self-evaluation, in preparation of the PAASCU, or Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities, visit on October 3-4, were also presented to the St. Luke’s community.

The assembly was kicked off with “The Curious Case of LD” presented by Clerk Leandro Dado and Intern Patricia Pintac. They detailed their patient’s history, differential diagnoses, clinical assessments, and treatment scheme as well as the day-to-day struggle with a rare disease known as Anti-Neutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody (ANCA) Associated Microscopic Polyangiitis. The presentation was layered into a number of clinical questions, and both speakers defined and described each process and each step of the patient’s treatment. Questions were raised, and people in white delighted themselves to trade-offs of new knowledge and expertise.

The lauded presenters retired from the stage, and Dr. Marissa Roxas, the spearhead of the task forces for the PAASCU accreditation of SLCM, introduced each task force for the school’s self-evaluation. The chairpersons from each task force updated the SLCM community, one-by-one, on their quantitative results, strengths, and points for improvement. Summaries of their assessments are as follows:

1. Faculty (Headed by Dr. Sharma Ojeda) – Overall Average Mean: 3.70/5.00

There are 186 faculty members in SLCM of which were evaluated based on scholarly work, teaching experience, administrative role, socio-civic activity, and loyalty, dedication and participation to the school. They are all ranked as Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, and Instructor, including full-time and part-time teachers with non-doctors to hone the students’ research capabilities.

Best Features: Both at the level of basic and clinical sciences have sufficient number of faculty members with masters and doctoral degrees while SLCM also has a sufficient number of diplomats and fellows. Faculty members are active in research, and they are known to have published and unpublished papers, and a high number of them share their knowledge with other institutions and agencies. Teaching assignments are based on faculty members’ expertise & qualifications where they are able to engage students in specialization topics they are experts in. There is a long-range faculty development program in the college, and they are definitely ranked and classified. The faculty is involved in the objectives of the college and in policy-making.

Recommendations: Teacher training and workshops are in order. Faculty members are also encouraged to use library resources. Their attendance in general assemblies and college activities need to be more strictly implemented. Each department in the college must be represented by at least one full-time member. The budget for training faculty should be fully used, and their compensation should be competitive with HMO coverage fee included.

2. Curriculum and Instruction (Headed by Dr. Art Decano) – Overall Average Mean: 3.83/5.00

The curriculum was faced with a number of questions to evaluate different facets: program of studies (a.k.a. the curriculum); instructional design and materials; community involvement; evaluation, grading, and graduation requirements; and management of instruction. The training and culture within the college should be geared closer to all of these aspects in molding the competencies of a medical graduate, the validity of educational methods, and consistency with Philippine National Health. Performance in instructional design was scored highest while community involvement attained the lowest score.

Best Features: SLCM has subjects that are unique to it (e.g. FOM, Clinical Evaluation, Clinical Integration). Furthermore, students are encouraged in the college to do research.

Recommendations: Students and Faculty alike should be encouraged to engage in community involvement, and social awareness should be further instilled.

3. Area Report Clinical Training (Headed by Dr. Aurora Tajan) – Overal Average Mean: 4.20/5.00

Evaluations were made on community-based health facilities, ambulatory facilities (ER and out-patient department), and in-patient care facility, all of which reflect on the quality of students’ clinical training and faculty supervision. Inpatient care garnered a high statistical grade based on hospital departments, record-keeping, teaching programs, academic activities, consultants, et cetera.

Best Features: SLMC is the only JCI-accredited academic medical center in the Philippines. Not only is this hospital better equipped than most US hospitals, but it also has the financial resources to support medical students’ clinical training by offering a large privately funded budget in social service patient care. The clinical training program is well defined, and consultants in various specialties and sub-specialties are competent. Experts from numerous affiliates continue to share their academic knowledge through various means. International networking of physicians, researchers, and scientists provides exposure for future physicians in holistic training.

Recommendations: The community-based health program needs improvement in that it must be more community-based than community-oriented. Relationship with the barangay needs to be reinforced and community workers must be prepared for training. Services in the community need to be amended to include minor surgeries and prenatal care. Office base and computers need to be updated. Also, the student-to-patient ratio is at times lacking in some subspecialties. There is always room for improvement in clinical training.

4. Students (Headed by Dr. Maya Santos) – Overall Average Mean: 4.00/5.00

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education” – Martin Luther King, Jr. The school’s target for students are the “best and the brightest”, passing through very stringent criteria and a rigorous curriculum, who are the object of the implementation of the school’s scholarship package. Furthermore, student life in the school is one of a small community, which opens possibilities for personal interaction with faculty, schoolmates, personnel, and staff. Major aspects in this area of evaluation are those of greatest admission requirements, promotion and retention, student discipline, and deportment.

Best Features: SLCM has objective and valid results for its high standards – 100% passing rate in PLE since 2009. The school environment is conducive for studying throughout the campus, such as in the library. Being a small school, channels of communication within it are open, and there are better opportunities for personal relationship with people in-campus. Furthermore, counseling is available to students, but the college still looks to have its own in-house counselor.

Recommendations: There is a need for continuous participative evaluation of admissions policies and criteria. The possibility for psychometric evaluation of new applicants could also be considered. Students have themselves asked the faculty members to provide timely feedback for all modes of assessment. Student discipline and deportment systems have room for improvement, and a means for addressing grievances to CHEd can still be augmented.

5. Library (Headed by Mrs. Babylyn Figalan) – Overall Average Mean: 3.60/5.00

The library is an avenue for students, faculty, doctors, and other members of the St. Luke’s community for their research and independent study (and perhaps even sleep) activities. Its area report composes of seven valuable sections: Administration & Staffing, Financial Support, Holdings, Administration & Maintenance of Collection, Library Services, Management Information Systems, and Physical Facilities.

Best Features: There is good feedback on general library supervision & direction, and self-evaluation speaks well of preparation, justification, and administration of its generous budget. It stores a rich collection of textbooks and references in specialties and subspecialties. A wide range of document services (journal retrieval) is also available, and library staff supports students in access of journals, books, et cetera along with efficient computer systems for navigation. Length of service is regular and adequate as well as benevolent (extension of library service by one hour to accommodate examination weeks). Lastly, the atmosphere in the library is conducive for reading and study.

Recommendations: These include evaluating library status, references, and subscriptions, singling out deficiencies in budget planning, ensuring instructional materials and equipment in the wake of internet interruption, and a faster internet connection.

6. Physical Plant and Other Resources (Headed by Engr. Romel de Castro) – Overall Average Mean: 3.70/5.00

Human Resources, Physical Resources, and Basic Resources all belong to this division.

Best Features: The personnel are always available to troubleshoot technical difficulties; classrooms are equipped to support instructional activities; the library provides lecture halls, discussion rooms, and reading areas, and is well-lit and fully air-conditioned; the auditorium has high capacity to accommodate activities of the college and the medical center; and labs are adequate to support instructional needs

Recommendations: Further training should be given to human resources for operation and maintenance of equipment. Additional classrooms for small group discussions may be installed, and office space and facilities for faculty members can be augmented to meet instructional needs. Renovations of administrative offices are recommended. A budget for modern tools and instruments must be allocated. New slides for basic science labs should be gathered and the AV system can be improved. Finally, there is a call for an additional lab for research management office.

7. Research (Headed by Ms. Nilda Muñoz) – Overall Average Mean: 3.50/5.00

St. Luke’s, as an academic institution, is founded not only on excellent clinical training but also on exemplary research background – for which a lot is new and may still be done. This area encourages especially students to be involved in and conduct research as an opportunity for career advancement and lifelong learning. Its sections in SLCM include the Research Management Office, Clinical Research, and Preventive & Community Medicine. Components of this area are namely Human Resources, Orientation, Activities, Quality, Support from Administration, Dissemination, and Utilization Ethics of Research.

Best Features: Research is an open opportunity for students to engage in clinical or basic science work that would give them exposure to further their careers. There is now also a recognized ethical review board should students want to enter clinical research. As a reinforcing backing, this area provides awards to seek funding for student-headed research. Overall standard operating procedures are developed and organized, and the first product of SLCM Research is so far two years under development. An in-house research budget is provided by the medical center foundation, and efforts are made to gain enough support from the college for student researchers.

Recommendations: With research in the college still in its juvenile stages, there is still a lack of laboratory facilities for bio-medical research. Lately, there has been poor recruitment of experts into doing research. Lack of interest and commitment for faculty to engage in research because of its low incentive is noted; most research done is short-term, with little impact; there is a lack of continuity of projects due to lack of endorsement by faculty and students; and there is a lack of statistical tools.

8. Administration (Headed by Mr. Moises Culala) – Overall Average Mean: 3.92/5.00

The Administration area is integral in supporting the college leaders in their endeavors. It is also a member of prestigious local, national, and international societies. Its divisions include Planning, Financial Body, Records, and Academic & Scholarly Linkages components.

Best Features: The College has the financial support of the Medical Center, and the school has been allocated a very distinct budget. The President & Dean also actively participates in preparation, and faculty members provide input on capital expenditures. Records are regularly updated. and there are policies and procedures that protect the confidentiality of student records, while accounting and faculty records are systemically filed. Foreign visiting and exchange professors are recruited, and the College has forged a research agenda with other private institutions. Members of the board of trustees resemble diverse sectors. Lastly, there is support from internal audit and SLMC; the administration is flexible in its ability to change with little effort, cost, or performance, and there is a simple but effective hands-on management style.

Recommendations: The administration should still continue to be flexible because of its small size. The College should upgrade its protocol, and concepts or plans should be shared with other people in organizations. A forge joint training program should be arranged with the Medical Center to upgrade management skills of administrative officers.

OVERALL – 3.83/5.00

As insight for the PAASCU visit that is waiting for us just beyond the door, Dr. Carolina Tapia stepped up to the microphone to impart her valuable tips to the members of the school. She emphasized that this endeavor was a selfsurvey rather than just an accreditation, and it was important to each member of the St. Luke’s community to be frank and have a desire to learn from this. She mentioned that we should all be familiar with our school’s vision and mission, that we should not be afraid of the visitors, and that every moment of this time would impact the development of the College. Further stirring news is that the visitors would be selecting persons at random for an interview.

“What to expect?” she asked rhetorically, and answered this question with “I don’t really know.” Being new to PAASCU, a shroud of mystery still awaits SLCM. As indicated by students, successful accreditation has had major changes in other medical schools throughout the country—for instance, in terms of the tuition fee. The question was delivered to Dr. Tapia, and the juxtaposition of this issue and the Dean, Dr. Brigido Carandang, treated the school to a speech of his own. “I think that issue is irrelevant to us,” said the Dean, as he explained that the school has a controlled tuition fee, not determined by accreditation.

More importantly, however, was that income from the students’ tuition fees are used to augment school facilities and even fund the school’s generous scholarship program, wish some help from the medical center. He reiterated that honesty is invaluable to this PAASCU visit in order to realize improvements for each institution. “We are going to be measured based on our innovation,” as it is this school’s claim as the defining quality of SLCM’s climb up the educational ladder for many years.