Dr Harsh Vardhan stresses importance of simulation as medical learning tool
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday appealed to the faculty of medical colleges to include simulation as a training method.
The Minister added that simulation could as a bridge between 'didactic' medical teaching through lectures, tutorials, laboratory work and problem-based learning which is being increasingly acknowledged the world over.
"We don't want an outdated medical curriculum framework. Our doctors have been world beaters throughout the 20th century. To keep our place there, our medical education planners should change with the times," the Minister said while inaugurating the 5th Annual Conference of the Society of Cardiac-Anaesthesiology, here today.
While admitting that setting up 'adult' simulation equipment - paediatric ones are still under development - may be expensive and only affordable for very few institutions, there exist low-cost options like simulation mannequins. The government could step in with assistance schemes in a phased manner, he stated.
Felicitating the cardio-anaesthesiologist community for opening up the prospects by launching the "World Simulation Society", Dr Harsh Vardhan observed that hospital patients are increasingly articulating the fear that student and resident doctors may be "practicing" on them. On the other hand, students feel that they are inadequately trained in history training, physical examination, diagnosis and management, he added.
"Medical simulation could be the answer to this crucial gap. It has been proved to enhance knowledge, comfort in procedures and for teaching through teamwork and communication. Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of simulation in the teaching of basic science and clinical knowledge, procedural skills, teamwork, communications and assessment of undergraduate and post-graduate medical educational levels," the Minister added.
The acute shortage of professional anaesthetists in the country also figured in the Minister's address. He observed that in the rural areas this is resulting in higher infant and maternal mortality. Lacking trained anaesthetists, carrying out Caesarean births is rendered impossible, he said.
He wanted the medical community to seriously contemplate out-of-the-box solutions. "We need uncommon solutions to our huge health sector issues."
In this context he mentioned the problem of the hilly states of India where the state governments are finding it difficult to provide secondary and tertiary care. A possible solution could be a 'work on holiday' package for specialist doctors.
The Minister exhorted specialist doctors to visit hill stations as guests of the state government. While resting, they could deliver their professional services as cardiologists, gynaecologists, neurologists, anaesthetists, etc. while simultaneously enjoying the state government's hospitality with their families. This should be considered by them as an extension of their service.
He said that he would circulate this suggestion among the state governments soon. He recognises that a far bigger challenge than opening hospitals is to get people to visit them in their times of need. But if secondary and tertiary care could be taken care of with this novel approach, the governments of the states could concentrate fully on the primary health needs of the people which is the first concern, he said.
(Posted on 01-09-2014)
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