The first fruits, the first light, Prima Lux 2019! The Adventist University of the Philippines College of Medicine (AUP-COM) celebrates the historical success of the pioneering batch during the first graduation exercises on June 21-23, 2019.
After years of planning, trying, and persevering, the dream of building and founding an Adventist Medical School in the Philippines turned into a reality. Looking back into the hurdles faced by AUP in the first few years of the medical school, the need for a building, the set of administrators, the dean that would lead the program, the operating funds, all these challenges kept on bombarding the institution, but God had sent people through Dr. Peter Landless (director of General Conference Health Ministries), Dr. Liza Bearsdsley-Hardy (Associate Director of Education @ General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists), and the alumni all over the world to encourage the administrators to pursue the journey.
The First Lights
The Sweet 16 as the first batch would call themselves first stepped inside the College of Medicine (COM) in the year 2015. As the youngest college and program of the university, there had been many challenges, but the administrators and the university were determined to pursue the program. One of the key elements that the institution prepared for is its unique curriculum. Dean Doris Mendoza, MD (founding and current AUP-COM dean), her team, and the AUP administrators did a careful study and formation of the unique curriculum that they would be using which envisions the future fruits of the AUP-COM. The integration of faith and values in learning has been an integral part of the curriculum, which aims to produce five-star-plus physician missionaries that heal patients physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. The college aims to produce medical students that are trained to be clinicians: Doctors that emulate the gentle and healing aura of the Master Physician; researchers: Doctors who utilize evidence-based medicine to ensure that quality healthcare is delivered; managers: Doctors who are leaders in their field, leading God’s people, and using health as their ministry; educators: Doctors who educate their patients as well as future colleagues by imparting knowledge that they have acquired; and social mobilizers: Doctors with the passion for Public Health and social issues geared towards Universal Health Care.
Obstacles, more than the physical building, key persons, and operating funds, challenged the hearts and determination of the pioneer batch. Challenges such as experienced by Jan Serge Aclan “BAGUHAN. WALANG NAPATUNAYAN. GUINEA PIG. Words that I heard when I enrolled at the AUP College of Medicine. A lot of people asked me why would I enroll in a new school whereas I already came from a well-known university.” But they cling on to the mission, with humility, with a heart for service, through faith in the Lord. Personal challenges were also faced by these aspiring doctors. Many have to face the financial challenge but chose not to worry, as how one of them pointed it out “I know God has plan for me and He is the reason why I am studying at AUP COM.”
A Cup of their T.E.A.
Apparently, one of the most valuable accomplishments the AUP-COM pioneer batch was to bring souls to Christ. A number of the total population of the College are non-Adventist, and as Dean Mendoza have always pointed out, “every heart is a mission field“, the COM family have dedicated their time, effort, and affection in reaching within their circle. One notable change of heart and life was found in one of their converted professors, Dr. Elmer C. Valenzona, for after years of living a life without a direction, has found a new path through the bible studies given to him by one of his students. However, more than the missionary work that they do within, it’s the missionary work outside their circles that tested their principles, values, and faith. This was tested when these aspiring doctors where sent out to Batangas Medical Center, the biggest Hospital in the Southern Tagalog for their clerkship program. Faced with a different culture and environment, these clinical clerks have embodied the life lessons and Christian values taught to them, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. This has created an impact on how other hospital personnel interacted with their patients. Prayer has now become a practice for every medical procedure that they would be doing. The pioneer batch have also dedicated a part of their time in visiting places where medical assistance is a challenge, rendering free medical check-ups and minor surgeries to the community people. They have also shared blessings through giving school bags and materials. Amidst the field missions they have, it was through their lives that they are able to reach and preach the gospel, sharing a cup of their Time, Effort and Affection. As they were interacting with their colleagues and patients, it was their Christ-centered life that has greatly shown the difference of Adventist Education. With this, the AUP-COM was recognized by the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges (APMC) as one of the ten best student organizations.
Jan Serge J. Aclan, their class president, stated, “Studying in AUP Medicine is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.” The AUP- College of Medicine may be new to the industry of medical schools, but these Physician Missionaries have found a home in this learning facility. A home where they have been trained and molded not just as medical doctors, but also as vessels of God’s light that brings physical, social, emotional, and spiritual healing to people they can reach.