The speech of the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University in Bratislava

at the opening of the academic year 2020/21

Dear colleagues, dear students,

At our faculty, it has become a pleasant tradition to welcome new students in their first year during ‘Fresher’s Day’. Together with the vice-deans for the education and the chairman of the Senate of the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University we aim to provide you with the image of what you can expect in the upcoming six years – the strenuous work, which will be the most crucial investment in your life; but also the social side of your stay in our beautiful city of Bratislava. After our speech the welcoming day is dedicated to information about the location of the institutes and other workplaces of our faculty. This information is also available on the website of our faculty. Social programme of the ‘Fresher’s Day’ prepared for you by your older colleagues allows meeting each other and starting establishing future friendships.

The official beginning of the academic year for all students is usually opened by the Rector of our alma mater in the auditorium of Comenius University.

This year, unfortunately, none of these events so memorable and treasured, will be organized because of COVID-19 pandemic.

The gathering of larger groups in the time of the growing second wave of pandemics presents a risk to all of us, to you, the students, to our teachers and to the general public. We must consider all the specific conditions which we as doctors and students of medicine can understand the best. Therefore, we have to adapt the whole teaching process to the present situation. We have to take into consideration not just our colleagues. The students in higher years must think of their patients whom they meet with during the practical training of clinical subjects. Ill and older adults are the most vulnerable. In their case, the utmost human consideration and professional responsibility are expected.

To provide practical training of theoretical, preclinical and clinical subjects, we have to strictly follow all necessary safety measures.  Wearing a face mask, repeated hand washing and disinfection, keeping a safe distance wherever possible, is crucial. You will find obligatory measures on our faculty website. The members of the Committee for the organization of faculty activities will be providing all relevant updates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be alert not just during the tuition but also in your free time. Only by dutifully following all measures we will be able to cope with the situation and avoid having to provide practical training in the distance form as we did during summer semester in the previous academic year.

Theoretical tuition of all subjects will be provided in the distance form. Lectures will be available on the internet. Some of them will be streamed directly in the time according to the timetable and subsequently available via the Academic Information System (AIS), so you will have the chance to watch them repeatedly. Other lectures will be published on the internet and during their designated timeslot teleconference will take place via MS Teams. This way, the teaching process will gradually change from the one-way flow of information from a teacher to students, to a more interactive form of the studying.

The teaching methods will be adapted according to the current epidemiological situation. This will be demanding not only for students but also for teachers. To obtain adequate knowledge and skills, you will need higher diligence and work commitment than before the pandemic. In the past semester, our teachers already showed high diligence and responsibility when performing their teaching duties under these worsened conditions. The members of the IT department also showed their high professionalism. With their effective help, the teachers coped not just with the tuition but also with the distance semestral and state examinations. The last few months of the past academic year were also demanding for administrative staff. Everyone involved in this process deserves our gratitude and appreciation.

Besides fulfilment of duties in the frame of common faculty activities, we have yet another duty. To manage the second wave of pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the help of both students and teachers will be needed, just as it was in its initial phase. Their work in the healthcare institutions and committees of professionals significantly contributed to the successful handling of the first phase of epidemic in the whole republic. Our students from abroad helped significantly in their homelands. The approach of students and teachers of our faculty was exemplary. Our students showed that they are morally and professionally well prepared for their life-long mission. Their attitude deserves appreciation society-wide, and the Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University in Bratislava is very proud of them. 

The success in any field of the human activity is conditioned not only upon the talent but also the moral and volitive qualities of people who realize it. I believe we all have ability to manage our common tasks successfully even under the difficult conditions which await us.

I would like to conclude this speech by wishing all  of us a safe and successful academic year.