Established in 1975, the West Visayas State University College of Medicine is the pioneer medical school in Western Visayas and the 2nd state owned medical school in the country. It has produced 2,468 graduates (as of March 2009), majority of whom are serving the different areas in the entire archipelago. Today, the graduates are into community work as primary health care physicians, teachers, researchers and clinicians in various fields of specialization here and abroad.
The West Visayas State University College of Medicine occupies a two storey Roxas Hall located inside the 17-hectares University main campus. The College utilizes the dissection room at Rizal Hall and the University Computer Center for its computer-aided instruction.
The idea of establishing a medical school in Western Visayas was conceived in 1971. It was envisioned to provide good medical education and training particularly for the less privileged but deserving youth of the region and help meet the increasing need for medical manpower to minister to the health needs of the people.
These concepts were embodied in a feasibility study made by some concerned medical practitioners in Iloilo City headed by Dr. Angel de Leon and Dr. Arturo Muyco. The study was presented to President Jose B. Ledesma of the West Visayas State College who concurred with the idea and requested Dr. Angel de Leon and Dr. Maria Celia Palma to draft a project study which became the basis for resolution No. 10, series of 1973 dated May 7, 1973, by the WVSC Board of Trustees. Thus the first medical school in Region VI and the second state-controlled medical college in the country came into being.
After thorough evaluation and approval by the Board of Medical Education in 1974, the first entrance examination and screening of would-be medical students were conducted among 250 applicants. In June of 1975, the WVSU medical school, with Dr. Angel de Leon as its dean, opened its portals to 25 first-year medical students. Classes were conducted at the Rizal Hall.
Though its growth and development have been slow, the School of Medicine has managed to go on, hurdling insurmountable obstacles while aiming for excellence. With only four full-time faculty members in the Basic Sciences and an integrated curriculum, great efforts were exerted to teach the freshmen the basic knowledge and skills of medicine. The ideals and goals of the institution were impressed upon their young minds – to be healers of men, particularly the Filipino people, as primary health care physicians.
On October 14, 1975, the WVSC entered into a contract of affiliation with the Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital to provide the students clinical material and exposure and to avail of the expertise of the medical specialists. A 100-bed annex called the WVSC-IDH Medical Center was built to serve as base hospital and it was formally inaugurated on July 27,1976. The succeeding years saw an increase in the population of the school and, in 1977, the construction of Roxas Hall was deemed necessary. Library and laboratory facilities were improved. The Community Outreach Program was organized to provide the students first-hand experience of life and health situations in the rural areas.
On March 26, 1979, the school graduated its first batch of 21 medical students who, in December of the same year, hurdled the Physicians’ Licensure Examination with a 100% passing percentage and Dr. Jerry Alabado as fifth placer.
In early 1982, the need for its own base hospital was felt and plans were laid for the purchase of the Gov. Benito Lopez Memorial Hospital, which is conveniently located near the school. A lease contract was made and, on January 1, 1986, it became the base hospital of the school with Dean Angel de Leon as its Director.
When President Ferdinand E. Marcos converted the West Visayas State College into a University by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 2019, the medical school became known as the College of Medicine. The victory of President Corazon C. Aquino led to another milestone -- the purchase of the hospital on April 5, 1987. The hospital was renamed the West Visayas State University Hospital in May 1987. These historical events took place during the term of University President Lilia V. Juele.
The serene atmosphere in the College was disrupted by the change in the administration of the University. The main issue was the directorship of the University Hospital brought about by the retirement of Dr. Angel de Leon. On January 4, 1988, the seemingly passive faculty and students aired their grievances against University President Dr. Venancio Garagan. Through the intervention of Secretary Lourdes Quisumbing, arrangements were made so that the College could operate as an autonomous unit of the University. The designation of Dr. Jaime M. Manila as Dean, Dr. Myrna L. Abello as Associate Dean for Academics and Dr. Ma. Victoria C. Villareal as Associate Dean for Clinics was made. In March 1992, Dr. Ramon S. Guerra, Jr. was appointed University Hospital Director while Dr. Manila continued to serve as Dean of the College. In September 1994, after his term was over, Dr. Manila was succeeded by Dr Abello with Dr. Villareal as Associate Dean. In January 2002, Dr. Villareal was designated Dean with Dr. Emiliana G. Carmona as Associate Dean for Academics and Dr. Leopoldo Gonzalez as Associate Dean for Administration.
Since its establishment in 1973, the WVSU College of Medicine has made a name in the field of Medical Education, being among the medical institutions in the country with consistently commendable performance in the Licensure Examinations. It has produced more than 1300 licensed physicians, majority of whom are now serving the country from as far north as Kalinga, Apayao, to as far south as Tawi-tawi. A good number of its graduates have served the rural areas through the Doctors to the Barrios Program and many are specialists and sub-specialists in varied fields of medical practice. Many of its graduates are now members of its faculty of instruction. Despite its successes and achievements, the WVSU College of Medicine does not placidly sit on its laurels but ceaselessly pursues the realization of bigger and more meaningful dream.