Medical students' testing clinical skills at risk

Medical student’s testing clinical skills and practical training are at risk due to the pandemic Coronavirus

Medical students' testing clinical skills at risk

The medical students’ testing clinical skills and practical training are at risk with educational institutes closed due to the pandemic Corona virus, the training and testing of budding doctors’ clinical skills has become a major challenge for medical universities.

In a webinar, titled as ‘Public Universities’ Response to the Pandemic,’ arranged by Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU), this complicated issue was discussed to seek solution for it .

The Vice Chancellor JSMU, Dr. SM Tariq Rafi stated that the scenario was changing drastically in these unprecedented times and there had been a paradigm shift in teaching and training as well.

Although Higher Education Commission (HEC) has arranged a protocol for general universities, but medical universities were different.

Staff and teachers had been trained to conduct online classes following the guidelines proclaimed by HEC, by holding lectures at the pharmacy and public health institutes, but teaching the students clinical skills online was extremely difficult as practical demonstration is the pre-requisite of this field.

Tariq further said: “Our foremost challenge so far has been conducting examinations,”  adding that there were two possible models, the first being setting supplementary examinations online with a viva and the second being to gather 30 to 40 students on campus and arrange examinations while maintaining distance. The latter, he said, was risky.

Pakistan Medical and Dental Council is still debating the modalities of medical and dental admissions for the next year, adding that the current benchmarks for merit were Grade 11 exams and O Levels. “How will we be able to judge a students’ calibre for entry into a medical college without an entry test?” said Tariq.

At the same time, DUHS VC Prof Saeed Quraishy exlclaimed that completing courses in these  challenging circumstances was also a challenge.

As DUHS had conducted supplementary examinations online using objective questions combined with an old-fashioned viva, helping to cross-check any unfair means employed in the written exam.

“Clinical modules are also being developed for online teaching,” Quraishy added. “However, a major hurdle is that many students in nursing and allied health sciences may not have access to or may not be as proficient in using computers.”

Moreover, LUMHS VC Prof Bhika Ram Devrajani shed light on the pandemic situation in Hyderabad, claiming matters were better there and calling for inquiry into virus variations. “Most of the patients were asymptomatic and only 2 to 3 per cent were critical. Only 25 deaths have been recorded so far in Hyderabad.” she concluded.