A Power Play in Medical Education

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Maria Clara Marinho de Novaes, a fourth- year medical student from Escola Bahiana de Medicina e Saúde Pública, Salvador-BA, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Paulo Freire, Brazilian educator, and philosopher, in your most famous book, Pedagogy of the oppressed, discussed how primary and secondary education are organized to reproduce the system of domination and submission already existing. As a consequence, for him, at that moment, education’s only purpose was to maintain reality as it was, without transformations.Unfortunately, Freire, without even knowing it, described the structure of Medical Education. Since Medical School, students live in a hierarchy system that turns them into passive learners, letting them become more vulnerable to humiliation and abuse. The reflection of this dynamic is the fact that anxiety, depression, burnout, and even suicide ideation are very common among medical students. For a long time, this was the only reality medical graduates knew.Many factors contributed to changing this perspective. One of them is the growth of medical students’ organizations, such as IFMSA, which has allowed students to reflect on their education and empower them to be part of modifications in the system. A great example of that is the fact that some medical students in Brazil, in order to attend better the LGBTQIAP+ community, fought, in their own medical schools, to have classes about LGBTQIAP+ health and also clinics to attend their particular needs. This process, not only turn medical graduates into protagonists of their own education, but also stimulates them to develop leadership, advocacy, and non-violent communication, skills that are essential while working as a health professional.Another breach of medical students being part of the medical education system is the active learning methodologies. These methods are very popular in medical schools and they’re known for letting the graduate be the center of their own learning by stimulating them to think, discuss, investigate, and create. The most known active methodologies are Problem-based Learning (PBL) and Team-based Learning (TBL). However, there are some topics that, unfortunately, medical students’ participation hasn’t reached yet, such as annual raises in medical tuition. This is a big issue between medical schools and their graduate students and, unfortunately, is one that keeps many students far away from their dream of being health professionals.

In conclusion, medical students have reached a great level of participation in the medical education system, which allows them to improve their education and learning. But, in order to advance in bigger debates, such as medical tuition, students should coordinate themselves around medical students’ organizations in order to get more power of bargain. That way, medical graduates can prevent the return of the structure once described by Freire.

About the author

Maria Clara Marinho de Novaes is a fourth- year medical student from Escola Bahiana de Medicina e Saúde Pública, Salvador-BA, Brazil. Affiliate member to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

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