In Perspective: Challenges and Solutions Concerning Medical Education in Pakistan
Nobility, compassion, sympathy, communication skills and bedside manner, all qualities symbolizing a doctor in that crisp white coat, have been an inspiration for a long time, for a number of students who are in the process of choosing a career, to step into this field of never ending knowledge, changing facts and challenging realities. How can we describe a medical student? He learns application of science, practices diagnosis and works for the treatment and prevention of diseases in every span of his career. Working together as an interdisciplinary team, many highly trained health professionals besides medical practitioners are involved in the delivery of modern health care.
Now, a question arises as to what is the purpose of medical education? Certainly it is to produce quality medical practitioners for the care and treatment of patients, which demands specialized teaching, training, appraising and assessing strategies that in quite a number of ways, makes medical education different from the other professional qualifications. It’s a psychological effect that after a long span of hard work, one gets fed up with the monotonous routine. Same is the case with a student who steps into professional life with a belief that the challenging educational period of life which comprised of thorough book reading and cramming, has passed or is at its near end and now he would enter into a phase where learning would entirely be in terms of its relevance to practice.
Unfortunately, a medical student experiences an entirely different scenario. The vastness in knowledge and learning accompanied with the never ending researches and transformations in the field makes a student’s education hectic, even for those who remain motivated to learn throughout their carrier despite the hardships. Secondly, the medical books or more appropriately a deep sea of thoughts and imagination, a collection of words and statements, are written in such a complicated way that they demand a completely attentive and alert mind. Even a slight amount of distraction lulls the reader to sleep.
The books with large data and even minor details are a mystery in themselves, and memorization of the contents obviously makes the field challenging. Another issue of concern for a medical student is the inability to retain the contents of the heavily loaded books. This is what demands even a doctor to have his medical books always by his side and indirectly burdens the student.
Assessment criteria of medical students in a large number of medical institutes is still based on the traditional detailed Question/Answer based examinations, rather than the internationally acceptable MCQs pattern. The over-burden has also resulted in a gradual decline in a student’s extra-curricular activities. The recent advancement in the curriculum design; an integrated system of teaching, that comprises of teaching all the medical subjects during the pre-clinical years of medical school (as opposed to the traditional system) is both advantageous and cumbersome for a freshman. Dissections, lab works, video demonstrations, animations and anatomic models are some teaching strategies that can help to build a 3-dimensional image of the human anatomy and physiology in the minds of students and clear their concepts.
Sadly these study tools are lacking in medical colleges these days. What about the teaching strategies in our part of the world? They are badly infected by huge criticism, because most of the teachers significantly lack in transmitting knowledge to the students. The multimedia system of teaching in any field of education and specifically in medicine is no doubt a leading cause of vacant lecture halls during lectures in medical colleges.
The loads of fees for admission in to a medical college are also a big issue for the poor students wishing to seek medical education. Huge numbers of great minds are unable to enter this field due to financial issues and affordability.
Many researches have been conducted globally on medical profession in terms of the curriculum design and the assessment techniques that lead to the development of a better doctor rather than a mere subject specialist. Integrated curriculum of medical education is one of these changes that focuses on the development of clinical skills right from the beginning in order to gain perfection.
An elective program is also a source of inspiration for the medical students, as it provides students with a depth of clinical scenarios related to a disorder, which a student might normally be unable to retain after reading a book. In addition to this, the implementation of good teaching strategies with the use of black/white board should be incorporated again as it is believed that a teacher’s drawing of a medical illustration permanently inscribes the knowledge on a student’s mind. The implementation of different strategies with the advancement in medical sciences might aid the students in their educational life with a hope that the medical school produces better graduates and more patient friendly doctors in the future.
About the Author: Fawwaz Bin Shahab is a 2nd year medical students at Dow Medical College, Pakistan. He aims to serve in the fields of Neurology or Cardiology in future. Fawwaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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