No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking. –Voltaire
Positive thinking spurs action and any powerful action begins with a declaration. The MedStudio is my declaration, the first step, that arises from a strong commitment to revitalize medical education. This blog was started with the intention to reach out to medical students and to provide them an opportunity to rediscover the joy of learning medicine.
It is a sad state of affairs when the process of studying whittles down to the feverish routine of cramming and swotting for good grades. The process of preparing young minds, with the sole objective of equipping them for competitive exams, begins way back in school. It is a practice that misses the point of education and raises critical questions about what we are doing to our children. It’s time to realize that this approach, in the name of coaching, has become a mindless exercise, and strikes at the very foundation of education, which is definitely not about bringing out students who have crammed information to capacity.
True, the medical graduate today needs to get his facts right or the patient will, putting his credibility at stake.But there seems to be undue concern in stuffing the student with information, rather than helping him duly process it. The point is there is more to the study of medicine than the exercise of memory. Whatever happened to the inherent charm of studying medicine? However, the stakeholders in medical education have seized the idea of loading information with a vengeance and our colleges are churning out graduates who would be more comfortable taking competitive exams than practicing their skills.
This blog is not a rant about the current state of medical education. Neither is it concerned with examining the process of selection to various medical institutions, which no doubt impacts the learning outcome. It is to get the medical student to see that his experience of the five-year course can transform. That he can revive his spirit by taking his understanding to an exciting level. The challenge is to consider information presented at every step and discover the basic science principles that underpin it.
A weak foundation can cause a building, however tall, to collapse; likewise, an inadequate grasp of subjects in the freshman year can bungle a medical career. A lack of clarity is not a nice place to be in but time in the first year of college is at a premium; therefore, all the questions on a subject don’t get addressed in class and what is not cured, will then be endured. Enduring questions may unsettle the learner initially but with so much happening in the course everyday, fresh questions and doubts vie for attention, forcing the student to shelve the old ones. What is shelved stays pickled, more often than not! The consequence: The student forms a rickety understanding of the subject and struggles to hold out against the challenges that rain on him once he starts his clinical career.
Does the above account seem familiar? Will be to anyone who has taken a course but hasn’t really taken to it. I know because I was there over a decade ago. My clinical years baffled me. I’d feel at sea because at that time I didn’t quite get what I gather now: the why of things. Knowing whatever else I knew then – which was deemed fit for a pass – somehow didn’t assure me. It was like passing a driving test and owning a license, that permitted me to drive anywhere in the country, when the only experience I’d had was of driving in a familiar neighbourhood, in a car that never put my understanding to the test!
Years later, teaching physiology as a medical school faculty, I still empathize with students who seem less and less self-assured as they move ahead in the course. The problem seized me enough to start this blog. Classroom teaching has its limits, One can only do so much. Not the same with advances in current teaching technology. Here, the student will appreciate the freedom to pick any topic that interests or baffles him, at leisure, from a list of posts that I intend to publish in the days ahead. Besides, there’s so much love to share: I can gush all I want about my favourite subject in this space and not worry about the next blog class I might be keeping you from!
MedStudio is an invitation to all those who seek to experience the beauty of a subject that is at the heart of medicine. In the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the word, studio, is defined as ‘a room where an artist works’. MedStudio is envisioned as that designated studio in the blogosphere where the medical student will witness the fascinating world of physiology come alive and become an integral part of it.
Now you must be thinking: A medical student? An artist? I’ll answer that. The practice of medicine is an art, in the sense that it is an ability or a skill that you can develop with training and practice ( the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, again). Note that it is an ability that comes with practice. So regardless of what you don’t know or know as a student of medicine, MedStudio could serve as a unique training ground to develop that ability. The key is to actively engage in the virtual sessions that will be lined up here. Your training through this avenue will be special in that you will train your mind to analyze, recognize, infer, form and apply the ingenious connect between physics, chemistry and biology, the fundamental sciences that form the basis of physiology, in understanding clinical practice.
This blog is a work in progress. I welcome medical students, teachers and anyone with an interest in medical education to post their comments, questions or suggestions. It would pep me up to have you join in. Thank you. Let’s take physiology forwards and make integrated learning work.