Author: Shruti Sahoo (MBBS student), Editor: Dr. Rohini R
The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 left the entire world in shock. Although every sector has been more or less affected it won’t be wrong to say that education system is one of the major ones to be affected.
In India, education is conventionally believed to be delivered inside a classroom with the teacher and students being present in the same room interacting with each other and before covid the digital medium of teaching was something people had no idea about. They were completely unprepared.
Covid changed everything, not only the methods of teachings were changed but also the traditional beliefs related to offline teaching were altered. And this change from person to computer wasn’t smooth, it came with its own set of challenges. Still out of all the educational sectors which were hampered due to this sudden transformation, medical education definitely leads the race.
Let’s discuss in details some of the major problems faced by MBBS students throughout the country because of the shift in the medical education system:
- LACK OF SKILLS
Clinical experience starting from the second year of MBBS is a crucial part of medical education. Not going to campus, completely look that away and students were unable to gain any hands-on learning. This sudden shift of method teaching over a screen was very difficult to understand and adapt to.
- LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE
Most of the colleges in India till date don’t have the money or the infrastructure like computers and good internet to take the classes online. It would be a challenge for faculties to take classes. The faculties in medical college are doctors who also practice in the hospital attached to the college. Hence, they would have to take classes from college and it would not be smooth, owing to the poor WiFi, power cuts and outdated computers. Similarly among medical students, not everyone is financially capable to affording tablets and laptops with good internet.
- SHORTAGE OF TIME
Our teachers, being doctors were overworked during the pandemic due to the massive number of people getting infected and increasing mortality rates. Among this huge burden of maintaining the healthcare system of the country it was next to impossible for them to devote time to teach the medical students. Colleges were not hiring more doctors to cover this shortage either.
- POOR COMMUNICATION AMONG DEPARTMENTS
This primarily exists in the institution itself where the departments are not only lacking to show real cases and teach clinical skills but also most of the times have poor communication among themselves, leading to having multiple classes at the same time or no classes at all for weeks together. Many colleges don’t have admin/ management to schedule and organise classes.
- STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
It is always easier for students to open Netflix and leave the online class after the attendance or while the class is going on.There is less concentration and engagement from the students which decreases the quality, as well as the efficacy of the medical education in itself.
- SHORTAGE OF CASES FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION
During the peak of the pandemic almost every department in every hospital had just covid infected patients.This was devastating for medical education because the foundation of the education lies on the basis of seeing variety of patients with different diseases and learning how to manage and treat them, as well as improve on communication skills and bedside manners. With covid there was almost zero admission of patients with other diseases so teachers had nothing to show and students had nothing to see.
- LACK OF REALISM IN EDUCATION
It is something which is common but different for every batch in MBBS. For first years not getting to see a cadaver and do dissection is irreplaceable. Similarly, for a second year not being able to go to morgue or use the microscope for the pathology slides is a huge loss. In pre final and final year the entire approach is to see patients and learn how to diagnose, treat and present various cases which wasn’t possible anymore. This lack of realism in medical education is not only taking away the practical skills which future doctors are supposed to learn, but is also resulted in lack of motivation to keep studying the theory aspect of everything and not being able to see it for real.
- ONLINE ASSIGNMENTS AND ASSESSMENTS
Exams in your medical career never ends. The pandemic changed pattern on assignments and assessments , assessments are more objective now and purely theory based with hardly any practical skills involved. This has not only given a lot of opportunities to the students to cheat but has also been immensely harming their knowledge of medicine too.
The pandemic came with many challenges specifically for the medical field, there’s nothing we can do about the reality of the situation but to accept it and train ourselves accordingly for the modern methods of learning and living in this pandemic.
Although this might be true that the traditional method of teaching and seeing patients can never be replaced by the screen but figuring out the shortcomings of the digital education system and working towards its betterment can certainly help us minimise the time and effort being wasted. Preparing faculty members and education management system is needed to prevent the collapse of future healthcare system of our country.
It is up to students to make best use of whatever clinical exposure they get, reach out to seniors and faculty members for help, make an effort to read and watch videos.