Skill Labs for Medical Colleges
Around mid-August, the Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI) suggested that MBBS students be asked to practise on dummies rather than on patients as they are used to doing.
Suggesting major reforms in the curriculum, the Board posited the use of ‘skill laboratories’ in medical teaching institutions as was being done abroad.
Board member Sita Naik was quoted as saying, “We have never considered the rights of patients but it is an issue in the developed countries.”
As a result, the MCI is also hoping to equip its colleges with such skill laboratories in the future.
“Skill laboratories are an expensive proposition, but we are seriously looking at it,” she had said.
However, that currently, knowledge, even awareness about skill labs in the country is rather low, is the widely-held view.
The orthopaedic department at the Government General Hospital in Chennai was among the first public sector teaching establishments to set up a skill lab for the use of students.
“We basically have bone models to help our postgraduate students get a feel of what they will work with. The lab has been set up as a public-private partnership effort,” explained Mayilvahanan Natarajan, vice-chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR University, who also was instrumental in setting up the unit.
This will be followed by a cadaveric lab, which will allow students one more level before they start dealing with patients, he adds.
At Sri Ramachandra University (SRU) in Porur, two types of skill labs have been installed : Specific skill labs for Orthopaedics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and ENT; and a basic lab for MBBS students.
The former caters to instilling higher skills for complex surgical procedures, which will be tested initially on a cadaveric lab before working on patients, P.V. Vijayaragahavan, dean – education, SRU, said.
The university is also in the process of setting up a virtual skill lab.
Mid-August, a skill lab was inaugurated at the Chettinad Academy of Research and Education (CARE).
The vice-chancellor, V. Raji, said the lab was a good place for students to learn and practise their skills, preparing them for their eventual rendezvous with patients.
Their own models were relevant to undergraduate medical training, she explained. While they currently had one simulation model, it would soon be expanded to a full-fledged simulation lab.
Lailu Mathews of the Anaesthesiology department, CARE, was careful to add that models are not intended to replace clinical experience, instead they are meant to prepare students to treat patients.
C.M. Purushothaman, director, Medical Resources India, a company that supplies such facilities to medical colleges, said, a skill lab will essentially take the student to about 80-90 per cent skill level.
There are, in the market, simulation sequences that can be run and re-run in order to explore the various treatment options.