Teaching of public health in Indian medical colleges: Guest blogger Dr. Kiran Kumbhar

Most medical undergraduate students in India rate PSM (Preventive and Social Medicine) as the most tedious subject in the curriculum; the ennui being exacerbated by, with all due respect to the writers of Park’s, the monotonous nature of the subject’s premier textbook. I believe that public health is such a wonderful subject that a student, on getting their first copy of Park’s, must be at least as excited as they are on touching their first shimmering Harrison’s. It seems an impossible dream for now. There are several issues troubling public health education in India, as are there infinite problems plaguing the public health system itself. Authorities from the PSM/SPM departments of all medical colleges must seriously ruminate and find ways to attract bright and enthusiastic minds to their PG courses, rather than the generally fatigued, desperate, and choiceless ones they manage to induct now. Public health (PH) is getting more and more important in an ever-shrinking world, and is going to require lots of musketeers in the near future. The endemic apathy of students towards the subject thus needs to be addressed urgently and solutions need to be devised. We can very well start with standardizing the name for the subject – ‘Public Health’ I'd propose -- rather than scaring away already dispassionate students with many different names (PSM, SPM, CFM, Community Medicine, etc.) Other arch subjects like Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics do not boast of such a fancy versatility of monikers; why should Public Health?

A subject is as good as its teacher. We need energetic, knowledgeable tutors for Public Health: doctors who will speak effusively and passionately about, say, John Snow and how he helped arrest a cholera rampage in 1854 London through common sense; or about the wonderful public experiments on vaccination of the great Louis Pasteur. Rather what students generally get is a lecturer who mostly prates on about elephantine definitions or unending lists of numbers (birth rates, mortality rates etc.). Public Health is so much about stories and people, just like History, and interestingly both of these beautiful subjects are disserved by teachers who concentrate more on numbers (rates in PH and dates in History). For example...

Log in or register for free to continue reading
Register Now For Free Already Registered? Log In
This entry was posted in Blog, Primary Care and tagged . Volume: .