A student trained in Community Medicine should develop the ability to inculcate a holistic view of health and medical interventions that primarily focus on a community’s health. In line with the above, the competency-based undergraduate MBBS program has introduced electives to cope with the constraints of expanding knowledge while having a limited study period through experiential learning. The key objectives of electives are to allow the learner to explore, discover, and experience a diverse learning experience and to do research that will stimulate inquiry, self-directed, experiential learning, and lateral thinking.[1-4]
The structure of electives in Community Medicine is built in such a way that the students will be able to choose the learning experience from Community Medicine in both the blocks under Community Outreach experience and research in Block 1 and Urban or Rural community experience in Block 2, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1: -
Block 1 and block 2 learning experience in community medicine
||1. Community outreach experience
|School health programs
|Community outreach for National Health Program
|Maternal and child health outreach
|Participation in faculty research
|Community and epidemiological surveys
||Urban or rural community experience
||Rural community health center
|Primary health center
|Corporation health clinic
|Selected private primary care clinic
aElectives which are not exclusive to Community Medicine alone.
The process of selection and implementation of electives is depicted in Figure 1. Preceptors are facilitators, who will be responsible for the conduct of electives, and they will be allotted a minimal number of students to supervise and guide directly. Before the start of the elective, predefined work, presentation, and writing plan should be finalized by the student and the preceptor. The preceptor acts as a liaison officer and coordinates with external institutions and community clinics wherever applicable. Students can enroll in a new research project or participate in preexisting faculty research projects.
Submission of log book with 75% attendance in both the blocks separately is mandatory for successful completion of elective and to appear in the final MBBS examination. Apart from the entry of daily academic activities in the logbook, the student’s experiences, observations, reflections, and presentations may be added as annexures. Challenges anticipated in elective programs are that students may be allotted under a different stream other than the one they are interested considering the National Medical Commission Norm of six students to be accommodated in each elective, identification of places for certain newer areas such as assisted living and hospice care, framing of time-bound objectives for the same, unavailability of a specialty in relevance to community outreach experience in an institute for which there is high demand among students, and overall safety when posted in rural and urban community health center must be taken care to avoid any untoward events.[1,2] To summarize, an elective program’s success lies in the organizing team’s hands, and the faculty members should be well-oriented about the program, so they can sensitize the students effectively. Overall, electives in Community Medicine must be correctly planned and regularly updated with inputs from stakeholders, because it can potentially improve vocational skills among budding doctors and is a giant leap ahead.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
1. Ramalho AR, Vieira-Marques PM, Magalhães-Alves C, Severo M, Ferreira MA, Falcão-Pires I. Electives in the medical curriculum—An opportunity to achieve students’ satisfaction? BMC Med Educ 2020;20:449
2. Medical Council of IndiaThe module on electives for undergraduate medical education program. 2020. New Delhi: Medical Council of India; 2020. Available from: https://www.nmc.org.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Electives-Module-20-05-2020.pdf. [Last accessed on 26 July 2022]
3. Jain AElectives—Opportunities in Community Medicine. Dr. Animesh Jain March 12, 2021. 2021. [cited August 1, 2022]. Available from: https://www.slideshare.net/dranimeshj/electives-opportunities-in-community-medicine-dr-animesh-jain-12th-mar-2021[Last accessed on 25 July 2022].
4. Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Introducing electives in the undergraduate medical training period: Points to ponder. J Sci Soc 2021;48:52-3