Media houses should employ professionals with basic core knowledge to cover health issues-Lubna Baig


 SMDC Second Int. Medical Conference-III

Media houses should employ professionals
with basic core knowledge to cover
health issues - Lubna Baig

We all have responsibility to help develop standards
for medical education in Pakistan - Ahsan Sethi

LAHORE: Media Houses both electronic and print media need to employ professionals who have some basic core knowledge to cover health issues so that they can understand things better and convey the correct message to the public.  At present there is lot of mistrust between the medical profession and the media as the later believes in sensationalism, highlights the stories out of context which brings bad name to the medical profession. Doctors most often complain of being misquoted. This was stated by Prof. Lubna Baig Pro Vice Chancellor of Sindh Jinnah Medical University while speaking at the recently held Second International Medical Conference of Shalamar Medical & Dental College.

Prof. Lubna Baig 

In her concluding remarks, summing up the discussion in one of the scientific sessions, Prof. Lubna Baig further stated that Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid has correctly highlighted and also given relevant examples how the media misquotes the research simply because they do not know the background knowledge and cannot interpret the studies correctly as in case of medical errors study and the manuscript related to prescribing habits of the GPs in Peshawar.  Her advice to the media was to avoid sensationalism. She commended all the speakers and pointed out that to bring a change is always difficult and a challenging task.  For the medical teachers, keeping the students awake is important. Students listen to the good teachers attentively and do not miss their classes. During the discussion it was also pointed out that academic record should not be the only criteria for selection of students. At present there is some mistrust and confusion in our academic councils but things are changing and improving and hopefully we will get there soon.

Earlier Dr. Masood Jawaid a medical educationist who is also Director Medical Affairs in PharmEvo spoke on online learning and innovative paradigm in medical education. He pointed out that online education is research driven and active learning. It is also students centered learning. He gave various examples like Surgical Council on Resident Education overseas which has suggested the use of technology to enhance learning.  In Pakistan too Lahore Medical & Dental College has established a digital library and they have a regular digital CME programme. At Dow University of Health Sciences in Karachi Dr. Muhammad Zubair has started online surgery course for interns, he added.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chef Editor of Pulse International and Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences made a presentation on how to use media effectively to communicate with the public. He was of the view that at present the image of the medical profession in public was not so good for various reasons. One of the reasons was that doctors do not know how to use the media effectively. With revolution in information technology, now information as well as Misinformation is disseminated at lightning speed. The Public reaction can be rapid, overwhelming, irrational and at times uncontrollable. Hence if the medical profession fail to engage with Media, it risk their work being ignored or even misinterpreted. Media houses, he said, seldom employ professionals with basic core knowledge for health coverage with the result that on many occasions they fail to correctly interpret certain studies and issues. Giving some examples he said that while reporting about a study regarding medical errors, the media translated it that “Majority of the doctors make mistakes while treating patients reports a study in Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences.” Yet in another case a study published regarding prescription pattern of GPs in Peshawar, the media carried the report which stated that ”Majority of the doctors  in Pakistan  prescribe wrong drugs to their patients reports study published in Pakistan Journal of Medial Sciences”. Both these carried incorrect messages. He suggested that while communicating with the media, one should prepare a few key points which you wish to convey, do not get derailed, and just concentrate on the topic under discussion. Medical profession should highlight success stories, professional specialty organizations should organize orientation courses for the media and try to have good relations. He also urged the medical profession to start self-monitoring otherwise someone else will do that and it will be very painful. Professional Specialty organizations should take a lead and start monitoring their members, he added.

Prof. Hassan Shoaib from University of Lahore spoke on Change Management: A missing link in the change process.  He suggested that to have a change one must have a strategic plan. He then discussed the key elements of change process and highlighted the importance of teamwork. One must avoid professional arrogance and try to understand behaviour change. Develop political support for the change, bridge the gap and convince everyone why the change is important. In the beginning there is always a denial phase which is followed by resistance, exploration and then commitment. About 16% are the laggards and one should not work on them as they will never change. There are always innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority which is followed by laggards. It is important to sustain momentum, he remarked.

Dr. Ahsan Sethi another medical educationist from Khyber Medical University Peshawar discussed “Accreditation system and standards for medical education in Pakistan” and felt that it was time we raise the bar. He pointed out that in the days to come no one will get a Residency in USA unless he or she has graduated from accredited medical college. At present we have lack of internal technical capacity. The inspection by the PM&DC is inspector based who evaluate the infrastructure, go for head count, faculty number, lecture halls, auditorium and library but do not look in detail. There is a lack of standardization for medical colleges as different colleges follow different standards. World Federation of Medical Education, he said, has identified nine different standards. It has also recognized different bodies in various countries and some are under process of getting accredited. We need to look at the WFME standards and then make our own standards. It is extremely important that we develop our own criteria and assessment standards for which each one of us is responsible. PM&DC should update and provide curriculum. We must have student’s feedback. At present there is no appeal system for students to challenge the decisions taken by the institutions. He concluded his presentation by stating that it was everybody’s responsibility to help develop assessment standards for medical education in Pakistan.

Dr. Sobia Ali spoke about optimizing medical student’s selection through competency based admission process. This, she felt, was important since we have more applicants than the placements available. She also briefly talked about assessment tools and mentioned reliability, validity, accessibility besides feasibility. Academic record, aptitude test, reference letters, interview, situational judgment should all be considered  while selecting the students, she remarked.

Dr. Benish Islam from Khyber Medical University Peshawar discussed Academic integrity among undergraduate students of Allied Health Sciences. They were asked about cheating, plagiarism and unprofessional behaviour. The study found different perceptions about dishonesty, some of the students also disregarded negative.

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