15 February 2008

Medical Homeschooling: Making It Economical

A medical education at a real medical school can be very expensive. Fortunately, medical educator and surgeon Carla Pugh has devised several economical "virtual patient" devices that will allow homeschool medical students to perform even the most "sensitive" examinations at home.
Her first creation, in 1998, was a “vaginal vault” made of a cardboard toilet-paper roll, Play-Doh and a badminton shuttlecock (a makeshift cervix). She has also constructed a scrotum using two wood balls linked by a rubber band (vas deferens) and suspended in an extra-large condom filled with oil and peanut butter.

She often buys penises at adult “novelty” shops, though they are all erect and circumcised, and sometimes welds on rubber tubing used for synthetic intestines when a foreskin is needed.

...The models need not be particularly high-tech. “A very sophisticated simulator would be too much for a student,” he said. “For simple tasks like a pelvic exam, a simple simulator like Carla’s is actually preferable. You don’t teach a teenager to drive in a million-dollar Ferrari.”

...normal people can be squeamish about touching strangers’ scrotums without it being a life-changing situation. The onus is on doctors. What good is a mechanic who doesn’t like getting greasy? If you have a squeamish doctor, get a new doctor.___Source
Some of you are no doubt wondering why these medical homeschoolers do not simply experiment on themselves, their wives, or their husbands. The fact is, many med student homeschoolers lack a suitable partner at home--and many of those who have significant others at home report that the partners are often reluctant to allow them to work through the sensitive learning curve of the exams.

I know that others of you are saying to yourselves, "why don't homeschool medical students learn to do these exams the same way that licensed dentists do: on their patients who are under anesthesia?" The fact is, many homeschool medical students cannot afford the dental chairs and anesthesia needed for that technique. One reason for doing homeschool medicine in the first place, is that they could not afford a real on-campus medical school.

Physicians who never become comfortable doing sensitive exams are a hazard to their patients. Every symptom can have multiple causes--some serious, some trivial and self-limited. Whether educated in a home medical school, or a large university medical school, it is important that every licensed physician get plenty of practise performing examinations that could potentially make both them and their patient uncomfortable.

Although I personally went to a real medical school, I do not criticise others who choose the home-school route. It is only fair for me to point out, however, that medical homeschools allow graduates to obtain only an HMD degree, and license. This license requires the graduate to restrict his practise of medicine to the home, on family members. But for those with very large extended families, the profession of HMD can still be profitable. Insurance companies do not pay for services rendered by HMDs, however.

H/T Kurzweilai.net


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