On July 19, 2015, a workshop on Bioethics and Communication Skills for the newly admitted medical undergraduate students was organized in the sacred premises of Gandhiji's ashram. Medical students had a tryst with ethics in the workshop; they also received pearls of wisdom from their teachers on communication skills.
Ethics and Communication have now become the essential components of medical education, and medical students are expected to learn these rites of passage as soon as they enter the hallowed classrooms and labs of the medical schools. Curriculum changes have led to a much earlier focus on the teaching and assessment of communication skills in the medical schools in Maharashtra. Several medical teachers from MGIMS walked to the Gandhiji’s ashram to do a workshop that they had meticulously designed for the first year medical students. Dr. Jwalant Waghmare, Dr.Samir Yelwatkar, Dr.Nishant Bansode and Dr. Leena Chimurkar introduced to the students what lays beneath bioethics and what bioethics is all about. The students also received tips and tricks into communication skills from their teachers: Dr. MVR Reddy, Dr. Satish Kumar, Dr. Kalyan Goswami ( Biochemistry), Dr. Aditya Tarnekar and Dr V Wankhede (Anatomy) and Dr. AR Chaudhari and Dr. Sachin Pawar (Physiology). They helped medical students learn the art of clear communication in medicine and the steps that students can take to improve their communication in and off the classrooms.
Senior undergraduate students did a roleplay "Respect to Human body after death: Dissection Hall and etiquettes”. The students explained to the juniors that they need to respect cadavers who help them learn so much what human body is all about and how it functions. The bodies that the dissection halls receive, the medical students learned, is an altruistic gift and needs to be fully respected and honoured when the medical students lay their scalpel on the body.
“You learn far more than just anatomy from dissecting a cadaver. This is your first patient. You learn compassion, you learn about dealing with death, you learn about yourselves, you do a lot of growing up, and it changes you. It’s their first step to becoming a doctor,” explained an Anatomist to the students.
A third-year medical student explained to his juniors succinctly, “Each year in the dissection hall, few faint, a handful of students cry, and many choose to stand back and observe rather than participate. All medical students go through a gamut of emotions as they slice through the human skin- awe, fear, disgust and even repulsion. It takes time to understand that we owe so much to the cadavers. The dead helps the living know the stuff the human body is made of, a knowledge that stands in good stead as we move in the wards of the hospital.”
The first year medical students, all ears to their teachers, enjoyed the workshop. Sure enough, they didn’t expect an offbeat educational activity in Gandhiji’s ashram. The day-long workshop amused, entertained and educated them. They delved deep into the trove of treasure that their teaches generously offered to them. Hopefully, a decade later, they would recall how they got their feet wet in the rivulet of bioethics. Would this workshop also leave behind its footprints on the sands of Gandhiji’s ashram? Only time will tell.