BACKGROUND: Since 1976, the School of Health Sciences (SHS) in the Philippines has produced a broad range of health professionals serving depressed and underserved communities. Most researches about the SHS present the impact of its unique community-based ladder-type curriculum and only a few focus on the lived experiences of its students.
OBJECTIVES: This study described how the lived experiences of SHS students with their community-based curriculum manifested as academic resilience.
METHODOLOGY: This is an exploratory social research. Data were obtained from key informant and focus group interviews, observations of purposively chosen students, teachers, and alumni in Baler Campus, and document review. Data were analyzed using iterative terms and concepts describing respondents' patterns of activities that establish norms in SHS. Joint displays of these norms were constructed to describe the students' academic resilience.
RESULTS: Admission in SHS requires students to undergo a stringent, often political recruitment process. While in the degree program, students go through constant financial constraints, demanding academic requirements, and challenging balance of hospital and community work with their personal and academic lives. The interplay between inner strength and external support promoted academic resilience. Studying in the SHS is a transformative learning experience. Students experienced multi-faceted problems requiring them to resiliently meet academic standards and maintain their own well-being. The culture of 'damayan' was an important source of psychosocial support.
CONCLUSION: The SHS curriculum and culture are most instrumental in promoting academic resilience among its students.