Introducing a molecular basis to physiology in undergraduate medical education

Authors : Mukhopadhyay A, Savitha D, Kurpad AV

Publication Year : 2018

Abstract :

Medical professionals in India need to understand the concepts of molecular genetics to stay up-to-date with clinical care as well as to strengthen basic research in the biomedical sciences.

We introduced a modular course on 'Fundamentals in molecular and cellular biology' for first-year medical undergraduate students in the second semester of the first MBBS year in 2015, as part of 'Innovations in teaching physiology' at St John's Medical College. This was a voluntary, add-on course with didactic lectures, hands-on practical classes and a research paper presentation. Evaluation of students' performance in the course took into account their performance in the research paper presentation-based group activity and their attendance for the hands-on practical sessions. Feedback on the content, delivery, evaluation and future improvements of the course was sought from the students.

About 65% of students regularly attended the 10-hour long course. Of the students evaluated for the course, 43% achieved the highest, and 11% achieved the lowest grade assigned. Nearly 72% of the students provided feedback on the course.

This first outing of the modular course on 'Fundamentals in molecular and cellular biology' generated excitement among the students and achieved some learning for them. It also brought to light hidden challenges in conducting such a voluntary course for medical students in India. Our experience with the course will help in designing a better-integrated course for exposure of first-year medical students to advances in molecular biology and its applied aspects as they progress through the MBBS course.