Every medical teacher would have definitely seen the “AETCOM book” (2018). Brought out by the erstwhile Medical Council of India, it is now in the website of the newer entity – the National Medical Council.
AETCOM stands for Attitude, Ethics and Communication (AETCOM) competencies. The booklet is a 94 page document prepared by the Academic Cell of the Council. The guide includes a bunch of new competencies to the existing ones, in preparing Indian Medical Graduates of high standards.
The third section or Section 3 of the document is about “non-core competencies” that are considered highly desirable. Within this, Section 3.4 is about being a lifelong learner committed to continuous improvement of skills and knowledge. And within this
Section 3.4.4: specifies that the Indian Medical Graduate must:
“Demonstrate ability to search (including through electronic means), and critically evaluate the medical literature and apply the information in the care of the patient” *
If we examine this part of the requirement:
“Demonstrate ability to search (including through electronic means)
How does the Indian Medical Graduate learn how to search the medical literature?
People believe that everyone is savvy today – they know how to search. We disagree. Many people may be “tech savyy” but majority are not “information savvy.”
Teaching search skills even in reasonable depth, is not done in most medical colleges. Having a one hour lecture on this topic in Research Methodology workshops alone, is like teaching Anatomy for just one week, for the MBBS course
Most do not have librarians or faculty who can teach searching skills (and referencing skills) in a systematic manner and in the depth needed.
Interestingly QMed has been teaching the skill of searching online, since 2008. And I personally have taught these skills right from 1994 when I was a librarian, starting from CD ROM databases. It was since then that I observed that practically no medico is taught information literacy skills. For a long time this requirement was not mentioned anywhere.
A few years ago when I had mentioned that such teaching must be in the curriculum a doctor remarked “they cannot put this in the curriculum because there are not enough teachers to teach this. And you cannot take your programs everywhere and finish workshops in all colleges.”
The 2018 AETCOM document finally has mentioned the requirement. In the preface, it says:
“In response to this, every medical college needs to develop the capacity to adapt to the requirements of the new guidelines.”
And yet, as I mentioned, barely a small handful of medical colleges have someone who can train students and faculty for good online searching skills. We offer the needed solution. We have our courses online. For people to learn at their pace.
We at QMed have always been working on this problem as we were aware of this skill lacuna years ago. The feedback for our courses has been excellent – an average of 9/10 on all parameters for one whole year.
When the solution is available, why delay? QMed wants to work with the NMC to see that this knowledge penetrates into every medical college. Let us not delay things more! And finally I would like to stress that in the next revision of the AETCOM book I would like to see these skills mentioned WITH the core competencies. Not just additional.