Prescribing errors by junior physicians have received a lot of attention recently. Proper training in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics is important to promote the rational use of medicines. AIMU has recently included the ability to use medicines rationally as a competency for the MD program. The small group learning sessions in pharmacology have the objective of introducing students to common medicine use problems, making them aware of pharmaceutical promotion and educating them to use medicines rationally.
Seven small group learning sessions are conducted in pharmacology. The first session is on social issues in use of medicines. Cost of medicines, disease mongering, access to essential medicines, patient demand for injections, aggressive pharmaceutical promotion are addressed. The second session is on ‘Understanding and responding to pharmaceutical promotion’. Students become aware of disease mongering in greater detail and are introduced to various methods of pharmaceutical promotion. They also analyze drug advertisements and promotional material using the WHO Ethical criteria for medicinal drug promotion. The third session is on prescription writing. During the four, fifth and seventh session students are introduced to the personal drug selection process as detailed in the WHO publication ‘Guide to good prescribing’. Students select P-drugs for the diseases of bronchial asthma, enteric fever and diabetes mellitus, verify the suitability of their selected P-drugs for individual patients and write prescriptions. Students also learn to counsel a simulated patient regarding the proper use of medicines and management of the condition. During the sixth session students explore the effects of various drugs on the dog blood pressure, rabbit eye, and frog heart using software programs.
Students are assessed in these areas during the small group exams in pharmacology. They analyze a social issue (in use of medicine) scenario, critically analyze a drug advertisement/promotional material and complete the P-drug selection process. Their counseling skills are assessed at an objective structured practical examination (OSPE) station.