Sunday, July 5, 2009

Need for postgraduate education in homeopathy

Every growing branch of knowledge needs both vertical and horizontal growth. Horizontal growth denotes extensive learning at every level. Vertical growth denotes an in-depth study involving subject specialisation. This vertical growth symbolises the postgraduate education. Homeopathy too as a branch of knowledge has to organise education at postgraduate level.

Postgraduate education in general aims at generating human resources who can be counted as experts in the field, advanced knowledge that could improve significance of the discipline and skills that could enhance practical use of the discipline. Thus the major need for any postgraduate study is awareness that there is a scope for improvement in that discipline. This knowledge improvement could be in the understanding the basics of the discipline or in improving the applicability of the discipline. Such an improvement is brought about by a procedure of enquiry, observation and interpretation, which are collectively called as research. Thus, research is a systematic process based on logical principles, of evolving new knowledge and skills to solve problems or improve the existing problem solving skills. Postgraduate education in homeopathy is a relatively recent phenomenon that is aimed at improving the state and status of homeopathic practice and education. As in any course, the purpose of postgraduate education in homeopathy should aim at elevating the basic and applied knowledge and skills of homeopathy.

Need for postgraduate education in homeopathy is two-fold –

î To advance knowledge and skills for professional performance, and

î To produce human resources who can support academic structure.

Need and modus operandii of research for advancement of professional knowledge and skills is explained under the heading Relevance of research in homeopathy, later in the same chapter. The need to have competent human resources to support academic homeopathic structure has to be objectively discussed to organise the postgraduate education.

Subjects for study in homeopathic undergraduate course can be conveniently classified as –

î Pre-clinical

î Para-clinical

î Clinical

> General clinical

> Applied homeopathic

î Homeopathic.

Pre-clinical subjects include Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry. Para-clinical subjects include Pathology, Microbiology, Community Medicine and Forensic Medicine. Clinical subjects include Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology. These clinical subjects have a purely clinical component that helps in learning the evolution, presentation, assessment and management of clinical conditions and a parallel homeopathic component for understanding evolution, assessment and management of the same conditions from homeopathic perspective. This point of view is drawn from homeopathic disciplines like its Philosophy and Materia Medica. The purely homeopathic subjects include Homeopathic Pharmacy, Homeopathic Philosophy including Organon of Medicine & theory of Chronic Diseases, Homeopathic Materia Medica and Homeopathic Repertory.

Pre-clinical subjects help the learner to know about normal parameters of health, i.e., how a human body is structured and how does it function. It is advantageous to include Psychology to know how normal human body behaves. Para-clinical subjects help the learner to understand how human body shifts to disease state, what are the possible causes for the shift, how to plan health promotion and disease prevention schedule and what are the legal and ethical implications of homeopathic practice. Such knowledge has to be gained from homeopathic perspective.

Thus, there is a need to develop human resources who can facilitate learning of human health and disease from homeopathic orientation. This is where postgraduate courses for homeopathic teachers in these subjects assume importance. The Homoeopathy Central Council (Minimum Standards of Education) Amendment 2002 makes it mandatory for all homeopathically qualified teachers to have postgraduate qualification i. e. MD (Hom), both for entry level and promotions. Postgraduate courses in homeopathic and some clinical disciplines are now available to supply this requirement. However, teachers in pre- and para-clinical subjects will suffer professionally unless remedial measures are provided for their academic and professional advancement.

One option is to allow any homeopathic postgraduate qualification like MD (Hom) either in Materia Medica, Homeopathic Philosophy, Repertory, Medicine, Paediatrics, Psychiatry or Pharmacy as an accepted qualification to gain entry and promotions for any pre- para-clinical subject. Thus we may have the bizarre instance of MD (Hom) in repertory becoming a teacher in Anatomy; that speaks for the vision of academic planners in homeopathy.

The other option is to include postgraduate programs like MSc (Anatomy), MSc (Physiology), MSc (Biochemistry), MSc (Psychology), MSc (Pathology), MSc (Medical Microbiology), Master of Public Health, etc in The Homoeopathy Central Council (Minimum Standards of Education) Amendment, so that a BHMS graduate can pursue these courses to gain academically relevant knowledge and skills and grow professionally in these departments of homeopathic institute. BHMS qualified person with postgraduate qualification in relevant pre- and para-clinical discipline would be in a better academic state to teach and train homeopathic students in those subjects.

The third option is to design a post graduation program for these subjects in a way that it takes into consideration course content from homeopathic perspective. For example, Pathology is taught not just for histopathological content, but also their pathodynamics from core concepts of homeopathy. Such a curriculum may be structured on the principles of Educational Science and Technology, so that the teachers not only gain mastery over content but also competency in a wide range of curricular components like lesson planning, applying appropriate teaching – learning methods and media, and relevant evaluation techniques to make learning not only more meaningful but also enjoyable.

Postgraduate education in clinical and homeopathic disciplines also needs a review for academic competence. There has to be a dispassionate SWOT analysis of existing courses and openness and willingness to bring about changes if necessary to improve the academic stock of homeopathy.

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