Sunday, June 2, 2013

Horses Teach Medical Students how to Behave!

My thoughts on this unusual interaction: While the horses certainly may help medical students to act more appropriately, I'm not sure they are the best replacement for humans.  For veterinarian students, this is without question a great option.  But for regular medical students, this disregards the language that must be used to comfort patients, which I strongly think is one of the most difficult parts of modern medicine.  Perhaps this activity is well suited, however, for improving one's presence in the room, touch and tone of voice.  These factors might be more easily neglected than others, but clearly, they do not make up the whole story.  Therefore, I think it is ok to practice this activity for a little while, but it should not be the medical students' main focus.  Perhaps more human-like animals, such as pigs, dogs, or monkeys, would be more appropriate as they better simulate humans.  Should medical students do the same thing with these animals?  Feel free to comment.

Open up, say 'neigh': Horses help teach med students

May 6, 2013 at 11:34 AM ET
Video: For America’s next generation of doctors, bedside manner can fall by the wayside in the first few years of medical school. But one doctor in Arizona is hoping to change that by offering a first-of-its-kind class using horses to instill compassion. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.
For the next generation of doctors to develop a better bedside manner, it’s important to spend some time in a stable.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Allan Hamilton of the University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson, is using his ranch for a first-of-its-kind class to help train first year medical students, bringing the humans in close contact with large flighty four-legged patients who can’t talk and who can be highly -- and violently -- reactive to doctors who aren’t attuned to their patients’ body language.
At his first “lecture,” Hamilton shows this year’s class how to safely approach a horse. He slowly walks up to one of his horses, running his hand over the animal’s body as he moves around it.
“I put my arm around him like this so the whole time, even when I go through his blind spot, he knows exactly where I am,” Hamilton tells the students and NBC chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
The slow, careful contact with the animal is not only for self-protection -- the reaction of a startled horse can range from bolting away to spinning and kicking out at something it perceives as a threat -- but also as comfort and reassurance.
The idea for the course began when Hamilton caught himself approaching a patient too abruptly and without the right amount of sensitivity.

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