Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities last year published our founder, Wali Zahid’s views as health flash. This piece was shortlisted in a global contest of ‘medical innovation – civilian’ category. Here:
Having spent two weeks in Lahore hospitals watching my sister being treated for a fatal disease, I had time to think about some of the fundamental flaws of modern medical practice and education. I concluded that medical education and practice needed to change, and that I was going to start a global movement to humanize the medical profession. I thought that many doctors, even some of the best, were devoid of a basic: humanness. So the mission is to humanize medical education and practice, to bring back the human into the medical ecosystem.
To begin with education, I would suggest that five years of hard study at medical school is certain to kill any sentiment for other humans. The focus is on memorizing and passing exams. The length of education and the way it is delivered is one reason why we have lost the ‘human’ in a doctor.
Then comes the residency, the house job that goes on for years, with long hours without proper sleep or break, sufficient to kill off any remaining humanity. Patients become numbers or disease-types. Further specialization takes up more years of study and exams; and then comes overwork, fatigue, and burnout.
Some striking facts about modern medicine are that access to healthcare is difficult and expensive; complaints by patients are commonplace; profits are put before patients; and doctors are over-regulated and become discouraged.
My answer is first to reform medical education. Digitize the curriculum. With technology and the Internet learning and teaching should be easy and fun. Cut the jargon where you can. Make it all visual. Create tablet-based education with medical and health apps talking to you about anatomy and physiology. Reduce the length of medical education at every stage.
Wali Zahid is a futurist and disruptor. He is CEO of SkillCity, a training firm. A native of Pakistan, he travels frequently to the South Asia and GCC regions to train and coach senior business executives.