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Workshop at Rawal Institute of Health Sciences

 Behavioral Sciences-Integration, assessment
in undergraduate medical teaching

Dr. Nariman Awais

ISLAMABAD: Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Rawal Institute of Health Sciences organized a workshop on Behavioral Sciences-Integration and assessment in undergraduate teaching on the 15th of November 2016. It was very well attended by psychiatrists and faculty members of the institute. The objective was to apprise, the senior faculty member sand the Heads of department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of their respective medical colleges about the importance of the subject inclusion, it’s assessment at an undergraduate level, barriers coming in its integration and suggestions to overcome them.

Prof. Syed Aslam Ali Shah, Principal of Rawal institute of health Sciences initiated the proceedings by introducing the subject. He enlightened the participants about the pivotal role of BS in undergraduate teaching; and focused on making important changes in undergraduate teaching to meet the health care challenges. He illustrated the concept of "Holism" in patient care by giving examples of major disorders like anorexia nervosa, diabetes mellitus, cirrhosis of liver and tuberculosis in which role of human behavior is critical in etiology, prevention and treatment.

Prof. Mazhar Malik photographed along with some of the speakers and organizers of the Workshop on
Behavioral Sciences: Integration, Assessment in Undergraduate Medical Teaching
organized at Rawal
Institute of Health Sciences recently.

He also talked about full curriculum, hidden curriculum, unrefined modes of delivering content, undecided summative assessment stage, and prevalent biomedical culture amongst many barriers coming in way of successful integration of BS in various medical colleges.

Prof. Mazhar Malik focused on the importance of health by quoting its definition by WHO, that aimed linking health to well-being, in terms of physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity." He was of the view that to deliver effective health care we need to produce healthcare providers who believe in the holistic approach of medicine, for that integration of Behavioral Sciences in medical curriculum is mandatory. He stressed, that currently in many medical colleges Behavioral Sciences is not taught or assessed as a subject.

Dr. Nariman talked on the vitality, barriers, and bridges regarding BS integration and assessment. It was a stimulating and interactive presentation yielding quick fixes to various if's & buts, do's & don'ts raised during the session. She debriefed the participants about the background and basis of BS integration in medical education around the world. She stressed the importance of studying behavioral sciences in order to produce effective doctors, who can deal with ethical dilemmas, demands of culturally diverse and aging population and who can communicate effectively at all levels of healthcare provision. She also highlighted the importance of good communication skills. Incongruent biomedical culture, tight curriculum space, lack of trained staff, ineffective leadership and limited financial resources were mentioned as some of the barriers to integration of behavioural sciences in the curriculum.

The concerns highlighted, were inspired by Dr. Sohail Ahmed's work "Behavioral Sciences Teaching In Medical Colleges-A uniform approach", and focused on teaching besides syllabus, modes and methods, its place in the curriculum and the assessment format. Prof. Mowadat H. Rana’s book on psychiatry, it was stated is quite useful for medical students.  Brig. Farrukh insisted on eliminating the unnecessary details from the course to make it simpler and easier.

Col. Masood Khokhar, suggested core principles of  Professionalism to be taught in BS as students lack in exhibiting professional behavior, that later influences their health care approach. Prof. Zarmeena Saga insisted that fortunately, much work regarding what to teach has already been done and attention must be paid to impart this knowledge adequately.
The teaching methods must involve cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains, aspired by the UHS model, as effective modes of teaching.  They suggested that teaching faculty for BS should be from departments of Psychiatry, Community Medicine, Forensic Medicine and Biomedical Ethics, for the principles of psychology, sociology, anthropology and biomedical ethics.

Participants agreed that Behavioral Sciences should be taught in different modules through-out three years, in form of lectures, tutorials, presentations, problem-based learning, role-plays, videos and supervised bedside discussions. They insisted that the principles of BS learnt in early years must be incorporated in clinical years.

In his concluding remarks Prof Mazhar Malik said that take home message was that Behavioral Sciences has struggled for existence due to dramatic break-through in molecular science, but now academic climate is changing, and integration of Behavioral Sciences content in medical curriculum is critical and compulsory assessments must be carried out to produce outstanding health professionals with an exemplary code of conduct.

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