HAS THE TIME COME TO CHANGE THE WAY WE TEACH COMMUNITY MEDICINE TO UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS?
Why the need to change ? Substantial increase in the content of subject : The content of the subject has grown by at least 30 % from the time when I was an undergraduate student and we used to read the 7th edition of Preventive and Social Medicine by Park. At that time this book had only 686 pages (size of pages was at least 30 % less than now) had only 16 chapters .The 21st edition of the same book has 868 pages and 23 chapters. This goes on to show that the content of subject has increased substantially. 12 weeks of clinical posting added : Medical Council of India has added 12 weeks of clinical posting to the teaching of Community Medicine similar to the postings in major clinical subjects, where in the students are available to us in small groups for approximately 3 hours everyday. In spite of the increase in subject content and the opportunity for small group teaching during postings, I personally feel that we have not been able to inspire students to learn Community Medicine with enthusiasm. Why the subject has not become much popular among under graduate students? Before going into the further details let us look at the following observations made by the WHO -SEARO expert group on “Improving the teaching of Public Health at undergraduate level in medical schools – suggested guidelines.” – Today most of the teaching in public health is carried out using didactic lectures within the ivory tower of an institution with limited exposure to the community .Public health education has to be an active process ,student centered , inquiry driven , evidence based and problem solving as well addressing the needs of the community .The role of the teacher should be to facilitate the student to acquire the competencies through field based experiential learning of public health competencies involving dedicated time for practice , receiving feedback and reflecting on its application in their future role as primary care doctors1.