Today I had two wonderful experiences with the PAHS medical students. I spent an hour in the Problem Based Learning Tutorial room (a small group, tutor-faciliatated discussion about a fictional medical case), where along with their wonderful tutor, Moyuri-Maam, the students enthusiastically debated the potential diagnosis of their “patient”. In this case the woman described in the case had heart palpitations and periods of lightheadedness. Students had to interpret an electrocardiogram, the first they have seen in their training thus far.. Discussion was lively, opinions offered, alternatives countered, and all done professionally and respectfully. With an excellent group such as this one, the tutor has very little to do besides gently guide the discussion along if it stalls or the students are in need of further information. These Nepali students take ownership of their learning, deciding what they need to know and at what pace. One of their “ground rules” –written up on the board as a constant reminder- was that no one gets left behind in the discussion. Did I mention that this entire discussion is carried on in their second language (English)?
Following the PBL tutorial the students moved into the Physiology Practical Room where their professor Jayandra-Sir walked them step by step through how to record and interpret an electrocardiogram.
When I run this lab in Vancouver we have 15 reasonably new fully automatic portable ECG machines (2-3 students to a machine) and everyone gets to record and interpret their own ECG. Here at PAHS there is one (old, but functional) ECG machine between 30 students. For that reason, only one student has his ECG measured, and the rest of the students use that ECG in order to learn how to interpret the waveforms. The lack of equipment notwithstanding, the students eagerly attended to all the to the steps of recording and interpretation and by the end of two hours were comfortably navigating the electrical nuances of the heart’s electrical signature.