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Revolutionizing Medical Education: Dean's Innovative Teaching Approach Featured in Leading Journal

Posted by Megan Leer
July 08, 2024

Over the past two decades, the education and training of physicians have undergone profound transformations to nurture a new generation of healthcare providers capable of addressing future challenges. At UMHS, our approach to medical education prioritizes lifelong learning, enabling our graduates to meet the ever-changing demands of healthcare and effectively diagnose and treat diseases. As Dean of Basic Sciences, Dr. Shivayogi Bhusnurmath spearheads a pioneering method that places pathology at the core of medical training.

Dr. Bhusnurmath has spent four decades developing curricula at leading medical schools and brings a wealth of medical knowledge, clinical experience, and academic leadership. He has collaborated with global medical educators and the International Academy of Pathology throughout his career, representing over 130 countries and national pathology bodies. This effort led to a comprehensive article in the esteemed journal, advocating for advancements in teaching medical students pathology. Drawing from extensive experience and testing, Dr. Bhusnurmath synthesized insights into a cohesive teaching approach.

"In pathology education, our goal isn't just to create pathologists from medical students," Dr. Bhusnurmath said. "Pathology should serve as the foundation to teach medicine itself."

Traditionally, medical education has focused on imparting knowledge through lectures and textbooks, often overwhelming students with vast amounts of information. However, Dr. Bhusnurmath challenges this norm. In his recent article, Dr. Bhusnurmath said, “The first step is to distinguish between teaching and learning. Many educators are under the impression that they are equivalent. There is indeed a lot of difference.” He argues that the key to producing competent and compassionate doctors lies not just in what is taught, but how it is taught.

Having spent several decades teaching pathology to medical students and postgraduate residents across several countries, Dr. Bhusnurmath has introduced some techniques that make learning exciting and effective for medical students. In the past two decades, these steps have helped to educate thousands of medical students worldwide, with very high rates of long-term success. 

Dr. Bhusnurmath said that pathology forms the cornerstone of medical education by exploring “how the damage occurs, why it occurs and so what it means to the patient.” This leads to guiding effective clinical decision-making. Understanding pathology enables physicians to pinpoint diagnostic approaches, rather than relying solely on costly and potentially unnecessary tests. This approach prioritizes the crucial role of logical and scientific clinical reasoning in medical education.

This foundational shift addresses a critical gap in medical education—preparing students to think critically and apply their knowledge effectively in clinical settings. By integrating real-world clinical scenarios into the curriculum, Dr. Bhusnurmath advocates for active learning over passive absorption of information.

“There are many ways that students can learn,” Dr. Bhusnurmath said. “Factual information can easily be conveyed to the students by sharing documents and PowerPoint files. Then why should they come to a lecture? We have to provide something in the lecture that is not available online. That lies in active participation by the students through questions and answers.”

"One of the core principles we're implementing is active learning," he said. "Students don't just listen; they engage, analyze, and apply their understanding in simulated clinical environments."

For example, the instructor may use clinical scenarios, such as discussing a common example like a breast lump, to engage students actively in lectures. Rather than simply presenting facts through documents, they begin with a story, like that of a 40-year-old woman with a breast lump concerned about cancer. Students are prompted to consider various possibilities and respond using audience polling systems like clickers. Each lecture starts with a scenario posing questions about potential diagnoses, progressively adding clinical details to deepen understanding. 

 

Ceremony - UMHS - White Coat Ceremony - UMHS Auditorium - 18th May, 2024 (263 of 318)

Dr. Bhusnurmath posing with a student at the 2024 White Coat Ceremony.

 

Dr. Bhusnurmath's method incorporates audience response systems during lectures, fostering active student participation in diagnosing clinical cases and providing instant feedback for effective grasp of clinical contexts—an approach that enhances retention, application of knowledge, and the development of essential skills such as clinical reasoning and patient-centered care, diverging significantly from traditional lecture-based learning.

Moreover, Dr. Bhusnurmath emphasizes the importance of prioritizing what students truly need to know. "In a field inundated with information, we must differentiate between must-know, good-to-know, and nice-to-know," he said. This targeted approach ensures that students acquire essential competencies without being overwhelmed by excessive detail.

Beyond teaching methodology, Dr. Bhusnurmath's vision extends to redefining assessment practices. He advocates for rigorous yet fair evaluation methods that accurately measure students' clinical reasoning abilities and application of knowledge.

"Our goal is to produce doctors who are not only knowledgeable but also capable of reducing healthcare costs through efficient diagnosis and treatment," Dr. Bhusnurmath said. "Understanding pathology allows doctors to make informed decisions, minimizing unnecessary tests and procedures."

In collaboration with his team at UMHS, Dr. Bhusnurmath is implementing these innovative strategies across basic science courses. Early results indicate improved student engagement and performance, underscoring the efficacy of active learning methodologies.

As medical education continues to evolve, Dr. Bhusnurmath's pioneering efforts highlight the importance of adapting teaching practices to meet the demands of modern healthcare. By equipping students with robust clinical reasoning skills and a deep understanding of pathology, he is shaping a new generation of doctors poised to make a significant impact in healthcare delivery.

Read his full article here for more insights into Dr. Shiv Bhusnurmath's transformative approach to medical education. 

Posted by Megan Leer

Megan is a Public Relations & Communications Consultant for UMHS. When she's not working with UMHS faculty, students and alumni to promote their expertise through media coverage and special events, she enjoys spending time outdoors in her hometown of San Diego.

Topics: UMHS News

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