Search This Blog

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Indra Anandasabapathy's comment on medical education

Some of you may have read this already because Indra wrote this as a comment on Speedy's piece on "Teaching Medical Students" posted on November 27th. Although Indra had made this comment on December 1st, it is unlikely that some may have missed it. As I have repeatedly pointed out before, it's the comments that make a blog post more interesting.

In the same way that I handled such a situation on an earlier occasion, I am re-posting Indra's comment as a new post. 

Interesting topic you guys are in.I have often reflected on my experiences as a medical student & my experience as a teacher of both medical students,nurses & residents in the USA.

To start with I will add Prof. Lester Jayawardene to this list. This stems from my first meeting with him as part of a sig. group that was tested on their knowledge of the shoulder joint. It was our first sig. our first few weeks in the block, and our first meeting with the teacher from Peradeniya whose reputation for being strict preceded his arrival in Colombo. We did put in the effort for sure but without the right guidance.

He went right to the point with his first question. What are the movements of the shoulder joint. None of the eight in the knew it because it was in fine print in the dissecting manual- by Cunningham.
The eye brows went up, and he bellowed, I am sure you know thev rest of the stuff, but if you did not know the movements of the shoulder joint you really have missed the whole point.

I did learn from that day on the importance of applied anatomy ( by extension applications in other subjects too) which was also well thought by Drs. Panditharatne & Bandaranaike, who were good teachers too.I had only once listened to Prof. Kirthisinghe , when he held a post mortem on the failures in surgery after both he & Prof. Navaratne took over the teaching of surgery, but the little bit I heard was enough to realize here was another good teacher.

The point has been made that our teachers tried to belittle you if you attempted to question them or make a mistake in answering a question. teachers need to encourage students to ask questions , the attitude of several of our teachers was sad to say the opposite.What I found out quickly in the USA is that if you don't talk, the Attending staff (consultants) think you don't know & mark you down.

Several years ago one of my daughters & son in law, both med. students were in the professorial ward at LRH. Sanath was away on sabbatical. The acting consultant made remarks trying to ridicule the two kids from the US, even after they kept answering his questions.Well that culture has to change if one wants the kids to learn & develop into confident adults.

The forms to evaluate the teachers is there in most institutions in the US too.

To end this note in a humorous note, in one of his afternoon ( sleepy) lectures,
Prof. Sinnathamby mentioned about seeing a monkey with a blue scrotum- in the middle of his talk. It was unrelated to what he was trying to teach. Well I had never seen one in Sri Lanka though I remembered his odd remark. Well, more recently on a trip to Masai Mara in Kenya, I did come across the monkey & things clicked- he Siinathamby must have been there. Sorry this is unrelated to what we were discussing.

Indra Anandasabapathy


  1. Indra
    Greetings!! It is wonderful to have you on the Blog. I agree with you entirely. I wish to refer you to my article on the 25th of July 2015 on "The Bad old days of Psychological Vandalism" on this very topic of teaching in the Faculty during our time.
    As for the Blue Scrotum we will never know which one of us had those.

  2. Hi Indra! Good to see you on the Blog. I know a bit about scrotums but confess to not being an expert, especially on the Blue variety! What you say is of course true. On Lester, I could not agree with you more. If you go back and read my post dated 16th June in the category "Colombo Medical Faculty", you will see that I heartily endorsed your view on Lester.

    By the way, the easiest way to trace a post is to type a keyword.e.g in this case -Lester Jayawardena- on the Search bar you will find right at the Top of the page on the Left hand side. This will bring all posts containing that word. For example, I typed - Indra - and all posts containing your august name were brought up!