USA Pilots Face-to-face Classes with MedTech, Nursing Programs

Jeff G. Tolentino

Pursuant to the Commission on Higher Education joint Memorandum Circular with the Department of Health No. 2020- 001 (CHED-DOH JMC No. 2020-001), the University of San Agustin conducted limited face to face classes in programs of BS Medical Laboratory Science and BS Nursing of the College of Health and Allied Medical Professions (CHAMP), October 11 to August of 2022.

The CHED-DOH JMC No. 2020-001 presented guidelines on the gradual reopening of the campus of Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) for limited face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 pandemic in which the university was able to secure a Certificate of Authority.

“The goal here is to let the students undergoing internship acquire sets of skills while we have this COVID 19 pandemic threat. Several measures like engineering controls, personal discipline, and all others must be constantly checked and maintained to prevent any local transmission. However, there is a call and unwritten rule for all those directly involved in the conduct of limited face to face to observe all protocols even personal discipline (observe school to home contact only as much as possible) to prevent local transmission,” shared Cyruz P. Tuppal, PhDNS, DNS, DMS, MSN, MASPED, MHA, MBA, PGDRDM, RM, RN, LPT, dean of CHAMP.

While on the conduct of the internship, several guidelines have also been set by each course to secure the safety and health of the students, with 304 enrollees for the MLS program and 197 students from the Nursing department.

“We adhere to the IATF guidelines and the CHED-DOH JMC 001 S 2021 to mention, like wearing of required PPE, observe physical distancing of 1.5 meters, and hand hygiene before and after engaging in an activity,” stressed Jose G. Perez Jr., RMT, MSMT, LPT, academic supervisor of the graduate and undergraduate programs of the MLS.

Adapting to the restrictions and guidelines set by InterAgency Task Force, both the MLS and the Nursing department have adjusted contact hours of the interns and students to meet curriculum requirements.

“Only professional courses with skills laboratory and/or RLE components shall be included in the limited face-to-face classes. All skills laboratory and RLE classes will be conducted inside the university, specifically in the Nursing Arts Laboratories. Students will only attend for four (4) hours for their limited face-to-face classes. It will be divided into two (2) sessions or shifts: Morning session starts at 8:00am-12:00pm and the afternoon session starts at 1:00- 5:00 pm,” shared Viella Tolosa-Balbon, MAN, M.A.Ed., RN, academic supervisor, Nursing Program.

The MLS program has also adjusted the duty hours for the internship as well as the duty rotation.

“The MLS internship will be held at the USACL, and two (2) simulated Medical Technology Laboratory rooms. For the USACL, Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Microbiology, Parasitology, Clinical Microscopy & Immunology & Serology. For the two (2) simulated Medical Technology Laboratory rooms, Histopathology and Blood Banking. We will follow the 5-10 cyclical schedule. Five days of limited and ten days of virtual meeting for the next two semesters,” explained Perez.

While the two programs were able to secure authority to conduct limited face-to-face classes, challenges were faced in the process. One of those was the cost of the RT-PCR testing.

“For RT-PCR testing, parents, students, and faculty were concerned on who will shoulder the RT-CPR testing fee considering that it is a bit expensive (ranging from Php 2,500.00 to Php 4,500.00). The university had an agreement with the local government unit of Iloilo City through the USWAG foundation wherein both faculty and students can avail of the free RT-PCR testing before the start of the limited F2F classes or as the case applies,” expressed Balbon.

Stressing the importance of laboratory skills and face-to-face education in the medical field, Jules Filly B. Baldon, President of the MLS Internship Officers, shared his sentiments.

“Despite the risks entailed with the resumption of limited face-to-face system, it cannot be denied that hands-on experiential learning is a great necessity for medical students as it will ensure that they will be equipped with the proper training and skills that they need for their future profession or as they join the healthcare working community later on and can keep up with the new processes related to health especially managing new emerging diseases like COVID-19 which the online setting cannot offer,” Baldon shared.

Published: April 26, 2022