Perspective From Global Medical Students
By: Akshay Sanghi
I conducted a focus group interview with first-year and second-year medical students at Jhalawar Medical College in Rajasthan, India. It was the day before Shivaratri, a Hindu holiday, and students described their excitement about vacation from school. Some students were traveling to celebrate with their families, and others were planning to sleep in and catch up on studying for their state board exam. It sounded like a holiday at Stanford Medical School.
Jhalawar students take similar courses to Stanford students, and they face the same obstacles. We struggle to memorize the enormous lists of medical facts and visualize the internal structures of human anatomy. However, Stanford students’ education is distinguished because we have opportunity to utilize many vetted digital resources. We rewatch lecture videos at 2x speed with our annotated lecture pdfs, and we complement anatomy dissection with The Anatomage Table, a 3D-life-size-interactive system. When I asked Jhalawar students what resource they turn to, they said “[we] search YouTube and see which [video] is appropriate. Often we judge it based on the number of views it has.”
Information exchange between Stanford and Jhalawar could resolve some of the disparities. Digital MEdIC has built a repository of digital content from the Stanford curriculum, and this repository is being shared with partners such as Jhalawar. Digital MEdIC exchanges our videos and content for information about the global medical student’s perspective. In my visit to Jhalawar, I learnt that every student is connected to the internet via their cell phones, but students hesitate to use online content because it is often not from reputable sources. Students express great interest in vetted resources that they could annotate and review at home. Based on conversations with other partner institutions across India and Africa, students express the sentiment that they need access to content that is accessible outside the classroom. I believe that collaborations between worldwide medical colleges and Stanford could transform medical education. The ultimate goal would be to create global medical education such that a medical student anywhere in the world would have access to high-quality digital content.
Jhalawar students mainly use resources that prepare them for their state exams as the exams are valued as much as the USMLE exams. Thus, in order to truly address the gaps in their educational experience, our content would have to teach to these exams. Thus, information exchange between schools is essential to create global medical education. We need to find the common ground between our repository of digital content and Rajasthan’s medical school curriculum. I suspect that there will be significant overlap, and students will benefit from Stanford’s comprehensive repository. In this day and age, every medical student should have the opportunity to learn from digital content.
Akshay Sanghi is a fourth year MD/PhD student in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University, and a student ambassador for the Digital MEdIC program. He is pursuing a PhD in the space of genomic-technology development to address clinical problems such as vaccine efficacy. He is especially interested in biomedical research that has global impact. In addition, as a part of his pursuit to create equity in healthcare, he participates in Digital MEdIC. As an ambassador, Akshay focuses on strategy and development to increase access to high-quality, freely accessible medical education content.