Maria Isabel M. Atienza | MD, MHPEd
Dean and Chief Academic Officer Maria Isabel M. Atienza’s Welcome Remarks during the Opening Ceremony A.Y. 2023-2024
August 1, 2023. Many twists and turns have brought us to this day, our school opening.
A few months ago, we were planning how the curriculum should transition out of the pandemic through a balance of onsite and online activities for blended learning.
Then, just last week, the CHED issued a memo for private higher education institutions to have at least 50% onsite activities.
The latest guidelines from the government relaxing the wearing of masks is also a welcome change! During our student orientation, we still encouraged the wearing of masks. And then last Friday, July 28, the government declared that we are no longer required to do so. Finally, we will get to see our students’ faces!
We are now making a turn in medical education. Sitting through long classroom hours as we did pre-pandemic is already history. The pure online experience of learning is also the past and hopefully not to return.
Thank you to the former Dean Dr. Susan Nagtalon and her team. You have steered the school through the storm with the skillful use of digital technology and gracious strokes of nurturing! We are grateful, too, for our faculty who have embraced teaching as an integral part of their medical career.
Having accepted 200 students last year and then, again, this academic year has increased our student population significantly that we can no longer fit all students in what used to be a big auditorium.
Together with the administrative team with a mix of old and new members, we cannot help but reflect on how we can move forward as we come out of the pandemic.
I speak now to our students both the incoming freshman and the returning students.
You have been selected from so many high-achieving college graduates who want to have their education at St Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine and be a Lukan graduate.
I recently discovered a new concept applicable to medical education called “Mattering”.
So what is mattering?
Mattering is to be recognized as an individual, or a person who has value.
Mattering is not merely belonging.
Mattering is being part of something that is bigger than ourselves.
The pandemic has more fully revealed these truths:
First, the pandemic helped us discover what mattered most in our lives, and this includes your education.
Second, great teaching is not very much about delivering content. Students do need to learn more now since the knowledge base is expanding at a rapid rate. Dr. Paul LeBlanc, the one who wrote about mattering, says that great teaching, and thus great education, is rooted in a conviction that every student matters, then we act on that conviction with time and effort.
When our medical school was much smaller in years past, it was easy to know everyone’s name. As the student population is growing and becoming more diverse, keeping individuals at the heart of the work can become challenging. Students should not feel they are just one among many.
And when our educational system is built to ensure the critical human relationships with the students, with the faculty and the staff, in no time, our secret sauce becomes how we communicate with one another, that each one in this institution matters.
Dr. Paul LeBlanc says that If students feel that they matter, they are going to do the same for the people they serve, that is, the patients whom they will serve.
Where else can we learn most but from our Board of Trustees. In my first meeting with them, I learned that the school mattered most to them. To be interested in the students’ needs up to the tiniest detail like where you will eat and what your seats look like.
So I tell you now, dear students, you are special not only because you were handpicked by so many high-achieving college graduates who want to have their education at St Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine and be a Lukan graduate. You are special because each one of you matters to us, and foremost is our desire for all of you to succeed.
Student and faculty feedback in the past year has shown how much we lost and yearned to have interaction back in teaching and learning. Let’s keep human relations in the student experience. Let’s make this 2-way. Make time to let us know your thoughts as we make time to let you know ours. And let’s use technology to amplify and improve the impact of the human interactions it supports.
Let me close by going by what Webster’s dictionary recommends, when we say “you matter” its meaning is only completed with the word “much” after it. Yes, I open this academic year 2023- 2024, letting everyone know, the faculty, the staff, and the students, that you matter much.