How to turn medical education upside down

Lawrence Sherman in this Ted Talk shares his view on how to turn medical education upside down. His presentation starts by telling that the slides which are beautiful are removed, and the ones which are boring and awful are what is present in the slide deck he uses in the Ted talk. Medical students when they entered medical school have no idea what they are about to learn.

What about medical practitioners? Do you think doctors know everything about every disease? The answer is no. Do they know at least the common diseases applicable for the climatic region? Again the answer is No. All they know is what they need to know to do their job. If the doctors know only things that they need to perform the work, will they be efficient in treating their patients?

He gives a formula for medical students


In which the first four represents the number of years medical students spend in their medical college. The second four represents the training they get for medical practicing which is also called as clinical practice. Forty represents the year of service or actual practice they do to treat their patients.


He then introduces another equation


The first two represents the number of years, medical graduates read about science, and the next two represents the years where the students are allowed to touch and treat the patients. It needs to be changed upside down. The students should be allowed to touch and understand the patients from day one they enter the medical school. All doctors should be continuing medical education throughout the life.  Many doctors are left alone to study something which may not be useful for rest of their life. The medical profession is a bit different from all other professions. In other occupations, if the student wastes their time in learning something which does not help him, it affects only the student. But in the medical profession, it not just affects the MBBS doctor but also all the patients they treat them. Continuing medical education is nothing but a lifelong learning for physicians and physicians to function effectively not just for themselves but for the good of the humanity.

Lifelong learning cannot happen in isolation. If one wants to do it in isolation, the amount of information one needs to read and understand in prolific. If they work as groups, then they will be able to work in union and share the latest information about the diseases they deal with on a day to day basis. They can move from focussing on learning to prescribe to concentrating on learning to understand the cause of diseases.

The way to change medical education upside down is to change the way learning takes place in the medical field. Medical education does not happen only from the medical lecturer and senior practitioner to medical students and junior practitioners but it also happens from the patients. Instead of seeing patients as a model to try out the tools and techniques we learnt from the medical school if you can see them as teachers who teach you new information about their body to you to understand their body as well as the abstract functioning of every human body.

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