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2 Thomasians among top 10 in 2020 physician boards

Two Thomasians placed second and seventh among the top 10 of the 2020 physician licensure exams (PLE) held last March and September.

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Alexa Taay/TomasinoWeb

Two Thomasians placed second and seventh among the top 10 of the 2020 physician licensure exams (PLE) held last March and September.

John Marlon Lintan, who emerged second, got a score of 88 percent, while Erika Anne Pañgan, who landed on seventh place, got a score of 87.08 percent.

The University placed fourth among top performing schools and recorded a passing rate of 86.96 percent, with 20 out 23 examinees, lower than last year’s 99.31 percent, with 430 out of 433 examinees.

Maria Carla Buenaflor topped this year’s PLE with a score of 89.17 percent, and Far Eastern University – Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation was hailed as the top performing school.

Right timing

Despite the pandemic, circumstances have been favorable to both Lintan and Pañgan.

In a Facebook post, Lintan expressed his gratitude and encouraged everyone not to allow delays to define their present and future.

A dream delayed isn’t a dream denied,” Lintan said on his Facebook post. “Just strive forward, have faith and believe that there is a right timing for everything.”

For a dream delayed isn’t a dream denied.Posting this as a gentle reminder to never allow delays define what you can…

Jm Lintanさんの投稿 2020年10月1日木曜日

In an interview, Pañgan said she had to wait and make a lot of adjustments before the board exams.

“I originally started my board exam preparations [in] December of 2019 for the March 2020 PLE, but due to the pandemic, our batch had to wait for another 4 months to be given a definitive date for the second part of our board exams,” Pañgan told TomasinoWeb.

During quarantine, Pañgan followed a daily schedule and routine to make sure she’s both on track and living healthy.

“I tried to live healthy indoor spinning class, some arts and crafts, sleep eight to 10 hours a day during the lockdown period,” she said. 

Pañgan admitted that this year’s licensure exam was a “very uncomfortable experience” compared to the March to September PLE last year. 

“It was three times harder than usual but everything is possible when you put your heart and mind on what you do and what you want to achieve,” she said. 

Eight hundred examinees out of 1,424 passed this year with a national passing rate of 56.18 percent, from last year’s 84.96 percent or 4,006 out of 4,715 examinees. With reports from Paolo Alejandrino, Jayziel Khim Budino, and Coleen Ruth Abiog

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UST plans a vaccination program for its employees

Dr. Sheryl Dionisio, the Director of the UST Health Service, said that the University encouraged its staff and employees eligible for the vaccination program to participate and utilize the opportunity to be protected from the COVID-19 virus. 

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Photo by Jester Ramos/TomasinoWeb

Dr. Sheryl Dionisio, the Director of the UST Health Service, said that the University encouraged its staff and employees eligible for the vaccination program to participate and utilize the opportunity to be protected from the COVID-19 virus. 

“The University believes that the vaccine offers an added layer of protection to eliminate severe infection and reduce hospitalizations for COVID-19,” Dionisio said in an interview with TomasinoWeb

UST has acquired the Covovax vaccine, a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, which has a 90% overall efficacy according to Yale Medicine.

Despite its high efficacy rate, the Covovax vaccine is still not granted an emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration.

The expected delivery of vaccines is within the third to the fourth quarter of the year, with final dates and volumes subject to the global supply and regulatory situation.

Pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Benjamin Co and UST Hospital medical director Dr. Charito Consolacion also conducted webinars and orientations to educate employees about the  COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and discuss the plans for the procurement of the vaccines.

While the University intends to ensure the health and safety of its employees, Dionisio emphasized that the vaccination program is intended only for those who are willing to be vaccinated.  

Dionisio added that the University’s security and maintenance personnel included in the A2 (senior citizens) and A3 ( persons with comorbidities) priority groups were already vaccinated in coordination with the local government officials of Manila. 

Meanwhile, those in the A4 priority group, including frontline personnel in essential sectors, and uniformed personnel, “will be scheduled for vaccination in Manila at their respective local government units,” she said.

Compassion amid the pandemic

Christian Solis, a faculty member from UST-SHS, said that the institution’s urgency to provide vaccines for its employees, despite the uncertainty of the situation, serves as an indication of compassion towards its recipients. 

“It is a manifestation of the love, care, and empathy on the end of the university,” Solis told TomasinoWeb

According to Mark Angeles, a full-time faculty member from the Department of Filipino in UST- College of Education, the university’s initiative to provide a vaccination program was prompted by the minimal number of people who are eager to be vaccinated.

“Nakikita naman natin na mahina ang turnout ng mga nabakunahan sa mga komunidad,”Angeles said in an interview with TomasinoWeb

Angeles added that the program being led by the university enlightened the faculty and staff regarding the current situation of the country. 

Alongside the vaccination program provided by the government, educational institutions such as the Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University announced a vaccination program for its employees and students. 

As of June 17, the available vaccines in the Philippines are Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Sputnik V. 

A total of 14, 205,870 doses have been delivered in the country. Meanwhile, the country has distributed a total of 8,407,342 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, more than one million people received the vaccine which is equivalent to 5.75 percent of the population. With reports from Lee Seril

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No-mask Christmas possible—Austriaco

“If 250,000 (vaccine doses are given) per day, we will get to containment in October and herd immunity in November.[T]his is a realistic and attainable goal for all of us. So we have to imagine as a country a no-mask Christmas,” priest-scientist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. said on June 17.

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MASKLESS CHRISTMAS? Priest-scientist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. brings up the possibility of achieving herd immunity in the NCR+ region by Christmas season this year. Screenshot from GMA News Online.

A priest-scientist said on Thursday, June 17 that 16.65 million people must be inoculated by October to achieve a maskless Christmas.

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco O.P., a visiting professor from the UST College of Science, said that 40 to 50 percent of the country needs to be vaccinated to contain the virus. Meanwhile, 70 to 80 percent of the population needs to be inoculated to achieve herd immunity.

“So how long will it take?  We calculated: If 250,000 (vaccine doses are given) per day, we will get to containment in October and herd immunity in November.[T]his is a realistic and attainable goal for all of us. So we have to imagine as a country a no-mask Christmas,” Austriaco said at a press briefing with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Vaccinated people will be protected if the virus is contained, while herd immunity ensures the protection of the non-vaccinated population. (Read: COVID-19 infection externalities: Herd immunity versus containment strategies)

According to Austriaco, who is also an OCTA research fellow, a “no-mask Christmas” is achievable through combined efforts of the people and the government.

“When that happens, we can begin to lift social distancing and masking arrangements… This is something that we can imagine. Let us all do this together, where we achieve herd immunity – the NCR plus eight by Christmas and the rest of the country, by sometime next year,” he said.

As of June 13, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said that there are 6.9 million vaccine doses already administered by the government. 5.06 million jabbed by their first dose and 1.87 million being fully vaccinated. 

There are over 1.34 million total recorded cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines as of June 17.

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Austriaco is also working on a non-injected, yeast-based oral COVID-19 vaccine that he referred to as “vaccine for the poor.”

“We are basically taking a human probiotic yeast…and we are engineering that yeast to express a fragment of the Sars-COVID 2 virus. And our hope is that we will be able to take this yeast and we will be able to use the yeast to be able to stimulate the immune response, the protective response of the body, for Filipinos and other third world developing countries,” he told CNN Philippines in February.

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New central board officers to push for students’ code, other pro-student policies

The students’ code, originally called the “Magna Carta for Students,” has been passed on from one administration to another since it was first filed in 2004 by former CSC president Xialeemar Valdeavilla.

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Student-leaders Dean Lotus Alano, Jan Therese Parcon, and Nathan Gabriel Agustin are set to lead the Central Board of Students during the next academic year. Photos grabbed from their respective Facebook pages.

 

The new officers of the University’s Central Board of Students (CB) hope to lobby for the approval of the Student’s Code and focus on student representation during their term next academic year.

CB deputy speaker Dean Lotus Alano believes that the Board should spearhead the student’s code instead of the Central Student Council (CSC).

“I believe that the approval of this should be promoted by the CB and actions like following-up with the concerned officials or offices, and having dialogue as needed be done as well,” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

The CB, which is the CSC’s legislative arm, is composed of duly-elected presidents from each college, faculty, institute, and school in the University.

Nathan  Agustin, CB speaker and president of the Civil Law Student Council, said that having uniformed guidelines like the student’s code could allow for more pro-student policies.

They are made to face conditions that they never desired to experience in the first place – and if they experience setbacks due to these conditions (disconnections in important activities, failure to attend the required amount of classes, etc.), it affects their status as a student —their grades, standing, and even admission,” he told TomasinoWeb.

The students’ code, originally called the “Magna Carta for Students,” has been passed on from one administration to another since it was first filed in 2004 by former CSC president Xialeemar Valdeavilla.

Alano and Agustin is also joined by College of Rehabilitation Sciences president Jan Therese Parcon, who will work as the CB’s secretary-general.

Freedom of expression

Agustin hopes to address the struggles faced by students when it comes to freedom of expression, citing “tedious bureaucratic processes” that hinder students from speaking up.

“This becomes dangerous when it silences the student body. This becomes abhorrent when it invalidates even legitimate calls for justice and welfare,” he said.

“Therefore, as student leaders in our own councils and the Central Board, we have to continue lobbying for our freedoms – we cannot let the chilling effect extinguish our voices,” he added. (RELATED: Persecution, not activism, besets student leaders)

In August 2020,  the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) required all student organizations to submit “permission to post” forms before posting any form of content on their social media accounts.

Several students and progressive groups have blasted OSA’s measure, emphasizing its threat to the students’ freedom of speech.

“We express concern and alarm at this new guideline–concern because this might be used to curtail our freedom of expression and speech, and alarm because this is not the first time that the UST admin introduced such repressive policies. We caution the University to veer away from such policies that will only add burden to students,” League of Filipino Students-UST spokesperson Trisha Ifurung said.

Resumption of face-to-face classes for health-allied courses

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Alano and Agustin also push for the CB’s involvement in a smooth and safe transition to face-to-face classes, especially for programs that require more practical skills.

We’ve seen how the students are eager to return, however, this should be done in a manner that would prioritize the safety of all stakeholders,” Alano said.

Agustin urged the University to administer a vaccination program to make sure that the student’s transition to face-to-face classes is “well-guarded.”

“[S]tudents deserve the quality of education we applied for – and I hope that UST will also keep this in mind in deciding for the next step in the transition,” he said.

Clinical clerks from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery started their limited face-to-face classes on June 9 after these were suspended in March due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. They were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus.

Other health-allied programs such as medical technology, nursing, and physical therapy are also expected to hold limited face-to-face classes next school year.

The Commission on Higher Education said in May that they are hoping to include college students and personnel in the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which started in March.

In a survey conducted by Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) and Students’ Rights and Welfare Philippines last year, over 1,748 people said they had difficulty understanding lessons from online classes while 1,567 struggled with online classes due to loss of internet or stable connection.  —with reports from Patricia Kahanap

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