Monday, May 8, 2006

MedEd: Aussie Medical students fail basic anatomy

This is from an Australian Newspaper, but some of the issues are relevant here as well:

TEACHING of basic anatomy in Australia's medical schools is so inadequate that students are increasingly unable to locate important body parts - and in some cases even confuse one vital organ with another.

"Teaching hours for anatomy have been slashed by 80 per cent in some medical schools to make way for "touchy-feely" subjects such as "cultural sensitivity", communication and ethics.

Several senior consultants have told The Weekend Australian they have been "horrified" to encounter final-year medical students who do not know where the prostate gland is, or what a healthy liver feels like.

When asked by a cardiac surgeon during a live operation to identify a part of the heart that he was pointing to, one group of final-year students thought it was the patient's liver.

But many students are also unhappy about core science training. One group of students wrote anonymously to two noted academics last year, saying they were "sick of being asked, 'Didn't you study anatomy?"' by consultants amazed by the gaps in their knowledge. "How can we learn if we are not taught the basics?" they wrote.

"It's part of the new educational dictums - 'don't put any stress on them (students) ... it doesn't matter if they don't know anything'."
Okay, so the article is alarmist and kind of takes things out of context (anyone who has spent several hours retracting during a surgery has had a moment where they looked at what was below them and thought: What the hell is that?). I mean, is it really important to understand what a healthy liver "feels like"? Additionally there's a lot of other stuff to learn that squeezes anatomy out, like new diagnostics, genetics, treatment, etc. And apparently Aussie med schools are pretty cushy because I've never heard anyone say "don't put any stress on them". But when the going get tough, the Aussie med students handle things much like American med students . . . blame the administration and bitch about the curriculum.


Garrett said...

I like the maliciousness with which "touchy-feely" is used... since we obviously don't have enough culturally insensitive doctors...

Pepper said...

This one is my fault. I shouldn't have been distracting first year Australian med students who were trying to study anatomy because I wanted to hook up with them.