Histrionics a tool to teach medicine

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Bulatov Sergei of Kazan State Medical University
Bulatov Sergei of Kazan State Medical University

M. Dinesh Varma

Students introduced to the `standardised patient' in fourth year of six-year programme

CHENNAI: Medical students seem to be learning more about medical evaluation from theatre artists than from the patient.

Theatre artistes coached to simulate symptoms of illnesses are turning out to be effective resources in medical education in Russia, says Bulatov Sergei, Head, Centre of Medical Skills, Kazan State Medical University.

Helps to finetune skills

Kazan is one of the medical universities in Russia to adopt the Western concept of the `standardised patient', where professional actors are roped in to mimic signs of a disease in front of a medical student.

The student learns to finetune his clinical evaluation skills by interacting with the `standardised patient'.

In fact, Russia's third most ancient university, which celebrated its 192nd anniversary in May, has firmed up an agreement with East Carolina University in the U.S. to develop a common programme of using the `standardised patient' methodology as a new educational tool.


Proponents of the `standardised patient' method point out that such patients provide constructive feedback, which is hardly the case with real patients. The system also spares genuine patients from the discomfiture of being examined by inexperienced juniors.

Kazan has a resource base of 20 actors who have been trained to simulate around 50 diseases and the varsity expects to attract more artists to clinical rooms for a fee, said Dr. Sergei. Students are being exposed to these professionals from the fourth year of their six-year programme.

Now in English

Russian medical institutions have launched English medium learning for foreign students. However, foreign students are encouraged to learn Russian during the course of their study so that can communicate with native patients.

Dr. Sergei is now touring India to attract more students to Kazan, which has a flexible intake policy provided the candidate is equipped with the minimum 60 per cent pass.

Of the 400 foreign students, around 60 are from India every year.

Kazan's advantages include a central Russian location, a multicultural campus and a tradition of religious harmony. Its collaborations with key institutions across the world is a strength, he said. A high teacher-student ratio means that a class constitutes only around eight students.

Medical education at Kazan costs around 3,300 USD annually. Apart from this, a student would roughly require around 100 USDs a month as living expenses.

Inflation worries have been put behind and the Russian economy is much stronger, he said.

In Chennai, Kazan liaisons with Study Abroad in T. Nagar. Study Abroad can be contacted over the phone at 55311121.

Admissions begin in September, though for foreign students the process extends to a couple of months more.




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