By Muhammad Mohsin Ali
In a bid to revolutionize medical education by integrating technology with learning, our Vice Chancellor (from what everyone seems to be saying) has introduced a modular system of learning, a system which, because of its novelty and realistic approach, stands in sharp contrast to the conventional system of teaching. While many teachers and students (I’m in) consider this as the beginnings of a change, some of the neo-traditionalists (sorry, I couldn’t resist using the term) consider it as futile, and for all practical purposes, utterly a hallmark of professional imbecility.
Having studied higher philosophy (and perhaps contributed to it), I tend to take both sides of the argument equally, and find which suits best. In this case, it must be said at the very onset that one thing is indubitably true: this system is a pain in the neck when you find you have an assessment right after a strenuous term of facilitated learning via prigging naps in the lecture theater (no pun intended).
So what exactly is this system everyone is niggling over? To be exact (and being exact comes with being precise), the modular system is nothing but an integrated approach to learning the same anatomy, physiology and biochemistry our primogenitors (again, no pun intended) have studied. Instead of making a hocus pocus out of learning hormones in physiology, pulsus bigeminus in anatomy and the highly sophisticated properties of riboflavin in biochemistry, this system integrates relevant sections of a particular theme in a single course, including each subject.
Then why do we have two lectures on pathology, and a hell lot of focus on molecular biology? I heard in class just the other day that this year, a lot of stress is being paid on molecular biology. Why is this so?
The reason may be a wider worldview. According to prominent scientists, antibiotic resistance in bacteria has developed so much that by 2030, these “supermicrobes” (or bugs) will no longer be affected by present antibiotics (search for supermicrobes and antibiotics on Google, and you’ll know what I’m saying). This, coupled with the fact that no new families of antibiotics have been discovered since 1987, leaves us only one option: molecular study of disease and its prevention.
Also, as Dr. Fridoon has stressed again and again, our VC does not want us to become “toti aur nail wala doctor” (whatever that might mean) but doctors who understand what they are going to recommend to a patient for aymptomatic antenatal hyperleukemia (I love inventing diseases).
So why pathology? It is ironic to note that most of us have been criticizing the syllabus content without any practical reason. We are not being taught about the three hundred and thirty different kinds of diseases that are caused by bacteria, but just simple concepts relevant to the cell like cell death etc, all of which we also study in physiology.
Okie dokie, so it’s all very good and all that, but what is the use of all this? We can’t really get to treat LSD patients at the firstulla level; why all this hue and cry?
It is, I believe, true that we are being taught some topics in what someone with a better sense of humor than Charles Darwin would call a haphazard manner (no such person exists). Focusing a lot on topics like LSDs (lysosomal storage diseases) which are rare is of no use to a person who has just come fresh after two (or possibly four) years of “conceptual cramming” (don’t ask me what it is). So why the heck are we being taught these things (especially some mitochondrial processes) which are way beyond our current level of understanding?
To this I do not propose to offer a solution. The most probable reason is that we are being “engineered” to be more clinically and practically oriented. And although I heartily agree with putting practical purpose in effort, I don’t think it is validated at this level.
One common and widespread rumor—if I might be allowed to call it such—is that what we are being taught is of no use, as it won’t come in the profs. Many people, whose fountain of ebullition gushes rather forcefully, have lamented lugubriously that we are simply wasting our time (by sleeping in the calm old auditorium). They have my deepest sympathy. May the odds (of not being caught napping) ever stay in their favor!
But why all this, when the prof is simply gross? I think that unless we are fortunate enough to have competent soothsayers in our vicinity whose ubiquity extends through the spatiotemporal dimensional orders, none of us really has a clue of whether the prof syllabus will be revised to cater to the new theme, or whether it will be abolished in turn for a new, better approach.
That being said, it might be interesting to note the results of a Facebook poll conducted in the official first year group. Out of a total of 54 participants, 32 expressed the view that the modular system was not properly organized. 17 thought that it was better than the previous system, but needed improvements. 4 considered it lacking in proper coherence, and only 1 person thought it was satisfactory (give this guy a cookie!).
So what must then be done (O crème de la crème)! In my opinion, the best thing would be to sit comfortably, twist, lick and dunk and Oreo cookie in the mouth-burning coffee of Piccadilly and stare (blankly) at the slides that flick away as the teacher drones on and on.
Or, if you really want to move on, go and get some studying done. Hate to remind you, but there is an assessment after two days, and you don’t want an idiosyncratic amnesia then, do you?
This is only the beginning of what I call the MUMPs disease (Medical lessons upset mystified pupils). There is much to come. Don’t fret; those of you complaining about not being taught gross anatomy will find a chill creeping in your bones soon enough. Be ready to characterize it as a preliminary symptom of MUMPs.
That, I believe, is all I can say. Exeunt dramatis personae!