Around mid August, the Board of Governors of the Medical

Council of India 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 (in The Hindu) 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 college 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 here,

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 PG 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 in Porur, here, 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

varsity is also in the process of setting up a virtual skill lab as

well, he added.

Mid August, a skill lab was inaugurated at the Chettinad Academy of

Research and Education, 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 under graduate 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 skills 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.