Why in News?
K Srinath Reddy writes: Covid should catalyse changes in medical education, enhance the profession’s orientation towards scientific sensibility and compassion.
Syllabus—GS2: Issues related to Health Sector
- The COVID pandemic provided the catalytic spark for reforms by throwing light on many areas that medical education must address.
- It also reemphasized time-honored scientific precepts & moral values of the medical profession.
- The changing channels of demands & delivery of health services emphasis the young doctors on the development & display of new competencies.
The history of reforms in Western Medical Education:
- In 1910, major reforms in Western Medical education begun after the Flexner report advocated structured, science-based & laboratory-supported learning, replacing the apprenticeship model inherited from apothecaries.
- While Western models infusing rigorous scientific research into medical percept & practice, it imposed a rigid reductionist approach that focused on partitioning the human body into sub-cellular & organs structures.
- Though these models ushered remarkable scientific innovations, the integrated functioning & interconnectivity of the human body obscured from medical education.
The need for reforms in Indian Medical Education:
- The urban biased & tertiary care-focused Indian medical colleges were disconnected from the real-world functioning of a multi-layered health system.
- On this backdrop, in 2010 The Commission on Health Professional Education in the 21st Century advocated a multi-disciplinary & socially responsive education model.
- However, the commission’s call to make medical education in its scientific approach & health system has not yet imparted the required momentum.
- The ability to judge the quality of new scientific evidence for correctly guiding clinical practice & future research is essential for a training doctor.
- This is much needed when new claims inundate medical journals & social media.
- For instance, during the pandemic, the rush for information has removed the inadequate protective filters with unreviewed publications getting circulated.
- Medical education must teach the essential principles of epidemiology & statistics that underlie good research design & interpretation.
- Because without such insights, many inappropriate tests & ineffective medicines are prescribed by doctors in their misguided belief of doing good.
- For instance, during COVID 1st wave, drugs like hydroxychloroquine failed when put to the critical test of a clinical trial yet those untested drugs for COVID abound in clinical practice.
- Also due to lack of insights, unnecessary pilings of wasteful tests are witnessed during COVID like CT scans, etc.
- The emergence of Telemedicine as an important bridge to clinical care during the pandemic period showcased the convenience & cost-effectiveness of such consultations make telemedicine an established health system component.
- Medical education must impart the needed technical & social skills to make tele-consultations effective & safe.
- For a country like India with vast patient numbers, the growth of telemedicine requires that medical students be trained to efficiently evaluate patient data & make competent management decisions.
Way Forward: –
- The pandemic highlighted the need for imparting skills of effective public communication & empathetic conversations with patients.
- Precise, accurate, jargon-free, confident & clear communication is needed in such interactions.
- The public health pioneer Livingston Trudeau once said that a physician has to cure sometimes, to relieve often, more importantly, to comfort always.
Explain how the pandemic has highlighted the need for imparting skills of effective public communication & empathetic conversations with patients. Do you feel that the time has come for Medical education to enhance scientific sensibility & compassion amongst physicians?