More Realistic Way in Teaching Medical Students Do Physical Examination of Normal Breasts
Last September 23, 2011, I was assigned to conduct a practical session on physical examination of the normal breasts to a group of 11 Year Level III University of the Philippines College of Medicine.
For the past 7 years, the Department of Surgery, to which I belong, has been the department in the College assigned to conduct this subject to a class of about 160 students. The 160 students would be divided into about 16 groups with 16 faculty-facilitators. As faculty, we would teach the students how to do physical examination of the human breasts.
Because of lack of human subjects for the practicum, we would use “breast models” (see picture below). This year, I decided I should have a more effective way of teaching the medical students assigned to me, that is, to have more realistic breast models for the students to inspect and palpate. I could look for actual patients in the ward of the Philippine General Hospital. However, the most that I could get is one patient for my group. With 11 students inspecting and palpating one female patient’s breasts, chances are, I would have a hard time getting an informed consent.
So, I considered and decided on the following:
1. There were 5 male and 6 female students in my group. Including me, the number became 6 males and 6 females.
2. I requested the males in the group to be subjects for the physical examination (inspection and palpation) by the female students. Initially there was hesitancy among the male students. With some convincing from their female classmates and me (I was serving as the role model), in the end they agreed.
3. As a role model and as a subject, I stripped waist up for a female medical student to do inspection and palpation on my breasts (see still pictures and videos).
4. The siliconized “breast models” were also used as before to teach the students on how to identify breast masses.
At the end of the day, I personally felt happy thinking I made some improvement, if not innovation, in the teaching of this subject this year. I hope the students were satisfied too.
I like to share this innovation and approximating realia in medical teaching to my colleagues in the health profession education. For whatever it’s worth.