You must read the satire on the “Glorious Tradition” of the description of medical education as “See one, Do one, Teach one” in the October 1 2012 issueof the “Daily MedicalExaminer” where a doctor K.R. Thuxston. III, MD writes an essay about the topic, presumably “tongue in cheek” but then who knows. This concept of a medical student or intern learning a procedure but in reality actually learning it upon a patient and often the patient unaware of the learning going on was a practice considered acceptable back in the old days of medical professional paternalism. Ah! But then came the last generation of medical practice and education with an ethical switch from medical professional paternalism to patient autonomy. “See one and Do one” has become a “no-no” ..well, at least not on a living patient or at least not to “do one” with minimal, if any, supervision unless it is only drawing blood from a vein. Simulators are all the rage now in medical education. Simulators characterized by “standardized patient” (actors playing patients) are used for honing up on interview techniques and general physical examination techniques but particularly female breast and genital exam of both genders. For surgical practice, the simulators can be divided into organic, a very old technique in education in which animals and fresh human cadavers are utilized and inorganic, the current and future educational tools which comprise virtual reality simulators and synthetic bench models and who knows what other “gadgets” in the future. These tools bearing major medical educational investment are said to be of significant educational value but there are still studies going on regarding the validity of that conclusion. For example even the use of standardized patients to instill the skill for students to later convey satisfactory “end-of-life” communication to real patients is still under investigation (JAMA. 2013;310(21):2257-2258}.
On the other hand, what is wrong with “See one, Do one…”? Shouldn’t patients take an altruistic view of donating their living body to medical education? And as Dr. Thuxston concluded ” Post-op, patients should look down at the ragged, poorly sutured scar on their abdomen and forget about the fact that they can’t wear a swimsuit at the beach anymore. Instead, they should beam with pride, because the misshapen scar will remind them that their body was once used to teach a budding doctor how to operate.” And you, how about you? A bit of altruism? ..Maurice.
Graphic: Ancient Greek Medicine. Wikipedia via Google Images