Ateneo graduates in 5 years MDs with MBAs

Ateneo graduates in 5 years doctors with MBAs

First posted 02:29:52 (Mla time) November 25, 2007
Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

MANILA, Philippines -- A medical doctor who is also an MBA?

The idea may not be so far-fetched as five years from now the Ateneo de Manila University will graduate the first batch of medical doctors who will not only be healers but managers and leaders as well.

The quintessential “person for others” that the Jesuit-run institution has been molding and offering to the world will now be taking on a more demanding contemporary role.

He or she will be filling a challenging job description and venturing into frontiers that earlier generations of Ateneans, or for that matter doctors produced by other universities, had not trained for.

The Ateneo opened this year the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH), taking in the first batch of 75 would-be doctor-manager-leaders.

“The state of medical education in the Philippines is that most, if not all, medical schools define themselves [as institutions] to prepare their students to be doctors,” said ASMPH dean Dr. Alfredo Bengzon, a neurologist and a former health secretary who has a master’s in business administration himself.

Bengzon believes doctors should not just focus on sick people but on a sick society as well and he would like doctors to address this “disconnection.”

In the Philippines there is a mismatch of doctors and society and there must be a way to “cure the mismatch,” he said.

“The matter of doctoring happens within a system. But the bureaucrats that are attending to the problems are not doctors and the doctors are not bureaucrats,” he said. And that’s where the mismatch lies.

Bengzon realized this when he served as health secretary during the Aquino administration.
“Doctors in the provinces were looked upon as leaders and so they stumbled through the job,” he said.

They were expected to be managers in the public health delivery system, nongovernment organizations or private institutions but their background and training dealt with how to treat the illnesses of individuals. Not many had training in public health.

The Ateneo, founded in 1859, is one of the oldest Jesuit schools of higher learning in Asia. Its most distinguished alumnus is national hero Jose Rizal who graduated in 1877 and went on to become a medical doctor.

It has three units of higher education: the Loyola Schools in Quezon City (Schools of Humanities, Social Sciences, Science and Engineering and the J. Gokongwei School of Management); the Professional Schools in Makati (Graduate Schools of Business and Government and the Law School); and now the ASMPH (beside the Medical City hospital) in Pasig.

Inaugurated last Friday, the ASMPH is within the Don Eugenio Lopez Sr. Medical Complex on Ortigas Avenue in Pasig. The new Medical City, a tertiary hospital, serves as a partner to the ASMPH.

In its prospectus, the ASMPH said it aims “to mold the physician of the future: one who is an outstanding clinician, a dynamic manager and a social catalyst.” It wants to form not just doctors but doctors who can be leaders and agents of change for systemic and structural changes in the health sector.

So it is not enough that ASMPH students learn the basics of medicine and curative care, “the students must also be taught to understand health systems from the perspective or organizations, populations and society,” said Associate Dean Dr. Marife Yap, a veteran development worker.

ASMPH integrates the study of management principles with an understanding of the social determinants that affect public health.

It defines the Ateneo doctor as the “doctor of the future” although that future may just be around the bend.

The doctor as healer must be an outstanding clinician with mastery of clinical skills and a heart full of compassion.

The doctor must be a dynamic manager who can bring systems and resources together to enable clinicians to practice their craft.

The doctor must be a social catalyst, a competent leader who can help solve the systemic problems of ill health and poverty and make quality healthcare available and working for all.
“We want them to serve, to lead. They will undergo leadership formation. Each student has a mentor,” said Yap.

Most of the ASMPH’s first batch of 75 students are graduates of the Ateneo (51), many of them armed with an undergraduate degree in health sciences.

“These are very bright kids,” said Yap, adding that several already started medical school in other universities but decided to transfer to the ASMPH. Several are on scholarship.

Bengzon, an Atenean who finished medicine at the University of the Philippines, recalls speaking at his alma mater and saying that UP had become a staging area for doctors “tailor-made to be exported abroad.”

“We do not expect all our graduates to end up in the rural areas or serving the poorest,” said Bengzon.

That is not the ultimate goal but it would not be surprising if they turn up that way. But wherever they choose to go, the Ateneo doctors should be among the best in their field—as clinicians, managers and catalysts.