Neurophobia

In general, medical students suffer a lot through bad education. Neurology adds to this the very special Neurophobia.

In my quite personal opinion, a lot could be improved if we actually knew what students should do and learn in our hospital. Is it history taking and (neurological) examination? Bedside manners? Basic Neurology? Advanced Neurology? Fascination for the field? The dreadful everyday life of a doctor?

Further confusion comes from the fact that we happily deploy medical students for some tasks (phlebotomy in some hospitals, mini mentals, walking speed measurements, writing discharge letters) that we really don’t like to do ourselves.

The “Junge Neurologen” is an initiative of not so young Neurologists trying to improve education and career options for Neurologists-to-be in Germany. Valuable!

Of course, we cannot simply revolutionize the way our medical education and system works, but there are some messages I’d like to convey:

  • Students are there to learn basic stuff, core skills (history, examination, localization, differential) and bedside manners.
  • They should treat patients (themselves, that is).
  • They should love their time on our ward – what we don’t like, they won’t. What we didn’t like then, won’t be that great today.
  • They should be and feel responsible.
  • They should respect the basic virtues of punctuality, politeness and preparedness – if they don’t, teach them to.
  • You should fetch them from where they are: how far are they? what do they know? what do they want to learn?
  • Don’t show them how bad medicine can be, show them how great it is.
  • Avoid Neurophobia by concentrating on common diseases, on basic skills, normal examination techniques, standard examinations and keep from rare three-eponym-diseases in your differential, weird examination techniques no one can recognize.

References: the only international journal that regularly issues articles on medical education in Neurology is Practical Neurology – here are some pearls: