Medical student in the 21st Century

20130618-201241.jpgTechnology has exploded over the last 10 years. From our first introduction to personal computers to cloud computing, our lives have been transformed. Many now can’t imagine life without Dropbox or iCloud.

Unfortunately, medical education has been developing rather slowly. Learning techniques have not changed very much in our local medical schools. Students still are not seen using technology to their advantage in their learning process. Apart from idling on Facebook and holding a smartphone, students are not engaging effectively with technology in education.

Perhaps you can fault the senior staff, many of whom are still trapped in the technologies of the past century. Their resistance to embrace technology has rubbed onto their students, some may say. Or maybe it’s the medical curriculum which has failed in incorporating newer technologies as part of the learning process. We have all heard about the adage that one should not fix it if it is not broken. After all, all the prominent physicians today have been educated in the traditional way. Who needs technology?

The reality is that we all do. The expansion of information is so fast paced that conventional learning methods will no longer be able to keep a modern physician abreast of the latest information. Patients are using technology to challenge the position of doctors as the provider of medical information. Technology has changed the dynamics of the physician-patient relationship. Textbooks will soon belong to the museum as a lag in having a newer edition by a few years is no longer acceptable as standards of practice change as rapidly as the production of newer smartphones!

Teaching medical students to embrace technology in learning is so important if we are to have medical graduates for the future and remain competitive. Making learning more effective and efficient using technology is no longer a choice. Medical schools must evolve. Curriculums must evolve. Infrastructure must evolve. Medical lecturers and professors must evolve. And finally, the students must evolve to survive.

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