From left to right, Atty. Joselito Alisuag, CHED Regional Director in MIMAROPA, Ramon Docto, University President of PSU, Jo Mark Libre, Commissioner for CHED, and the new Dean for the PSU-School of Medicine, Dr. Helen Sigua.

Palawan’s first medical school is set to open its doors to aspiring medical students in the region on September 11.

Palawan State University (PSU) inaugurated its School of Medicine at Tiniguiban Heights on Friday, a project initially proposed by Dr. Jeter Sespeñe in 2013 to the former provincial governor, Jose Chavez Alvarez.

Atty. Joselito Alisuag, the Regional Director for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in MIMAROPA, noted that it took some time for PSU to meet the requirements for CHED’s approval, which included upgrading the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) into a tertiary level hospital and recruiting faculty members for the school.

In addition to the city government’s donation of two hectares of land, Alisuag further explained that the establishment of the PSU School of Medicine was facilitated by the first province-wide free tuition program under Junie Vasco. The provincial government agreed to sponsor scholarships for PSU students, providing the university with a budget for its school and medical center.

The students from the pioneer batch of PSU-School of Medicine observe a skeletal model during the walking tour for the school building.

Edna Mae Legazpi, Director of CHED Office of Student Development, said that CHED allocated 30 slots for the Medical Scholarship and Return of Service (MSRS), which includes a full tuition package and an allowance of P88,500 per semester, covered until fourth year. The fifth-year internship offers P60,000 per school year, including a one-time licensure exam review and application allowance of P16,000.

“This is to fully realize the heart of the law—to produce doctors for the underprivileged communities. Yung return service nila, one is to one, so apat na taon sila mag-aaral, apat na taon din silang magse-serve,” added Legazpi.

Dr. Helen Sigua, the new dean for the PSU School of Medicine, said that the main challenges that the PSU-School of Medicine will face included waiting for the bureaucratic process for the school funds, and hiring more specialty teachers for the faculty.

“Our three-pillared curriculum is anchored on basic sciences, clinical sciences, and health system sciences. Sa health system sciences, kailangan kong mag-import ng experts because we have to get them from outside of MIMAROPA,” said Sigua.

Sigua noted that Palawan has a diverse setting of healthcare which will be beneficial to PSU’s medical students. Furthermore, she adds that by 2028, the ONP will be prepared for the PSU-School of Medicine’s four residency programs, which are internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics.

The school will formally open on September 11, with its pioneer batch currently composed of 14 students- all women- chosen from 30+ applications. However, Sigua noted that PSU-School of Medicine will continue to accept applications until September 10 as long as applicants have taken the NMAT, presented their transcript of records, and complied with an interview based on the three pillars of sciences of the school.

Present during the ribbon-cutting ceremony and the launching program included Jo Mark Libre, Commissioner for the Commission on Higher Education, and PSU University President Ramon Docto.