KLE INITIATIVES TOWARDS QUALITY EDUCATION IN AYURVEDA
Teaching in medical sciences especially clinical subjects is very typical. When comes to Ayurveda teaching it is unique. Several factors need to be considered in respect to Ayurveda teaching: Paucity of knowledge transmission from the original authors to present generation; this gap is being filled with the help of allopathic subjects. This led to both clarity as well as confusion. Further lack of text books lead to diversified teaching that again added confusion. Lack of objectivity in syllabus as well as teachers lead to burdening of the students with information that do not have any practical application.
On the other side, the students with different background having habituated to different type of teaching methods and terminologies are joining Ayurveda education and there is big mismatch between their expectation, perception and actual teaching & training. There is a need to bridge up this gap. With this background we have deliberated upon and this paved us to several reforms and initiations in our teaching and training systems.
Establishment of Department of Ayurveda Medical Education (DAME): DAME was established for revision of curriculum & to develop and implement various innovative teaching methodologies. To implement teaching reforms a structured platform is essential. With this idea DAME has been established with three cells within it viz. curriculum design and development cell, teaching technology & training cell and feedback & evaluation cell. We have been able to integrate functionally these three cells and develop mechanism of bringing outcome based curriculum. To my knowledge KAHER’s BMK Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya is the only institute having established such a department. DAME helped us to overcome several such problems mentioned earlier. We have been able to enrich our curriculum with newer and emerging topics and able to revise curriculum for every three years.
We moved from teacher centric time tables/teaching schedules to student centric teaching schedules. To elaborate: it is in routine practice that the syllabus will be divided among the teachers present in the department and each teacher starts teaching separate topics as per his/her convenience. In a week if there are four teachers, four topics start simultaneously. Likewise by the end of a week as many number of teachers so many topics may be dealt. This is easy for the teachers, but it is difficult for the students to follow so many topics. To overcome this issue we brought unitised schedule system where in each topic is divided into units and are announced in sequential order. Any teacher at any time has to follow the sequential order that has been announced in advance. This method provides anticipation of students to priorly mentioned topics. Thus in professional year inspite of many subject and staff, a known topic of subject will be scheduled and dealt. The feedback of the students is very good and the syllabus is being completed comfortably.
After successful implementation of unitised teaching schedules, we thought of integrating the departments horizontally and vertically for teaching Ayurveda subjects. For example: Basti topic for final professional Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), starting from anatomy of rectum up to management of complications all concerned departments get involved in teaching. Department of Basic Principles deals with derivation of terminologies etc. Rachana department teaches anatomy of rectum with respect to basti procedure, department of Kriya teaches physiological aspects of rectum, Roganidana department on various pathological conditions of rectum and related imaging and interpretation, Dravyaguna department on pharmacotherapeutic aspects of drugs indicated for basti, Bhaishajyakalpana department on preparation & quality aspects of basti, Shalya department on basti fitness, Kayachikitsa department on basti application in various clinical conditions and Panchakarma department on administrative aspects as well as management of complications. These special topics will be scheduled whole day for five to six days, the same topic will be dealt w.r.t both theory and practical. Thus theory and demonstration/hands on experience go simultaneously. Further all advanced and innovative teaching methodologies are included at appropriate places, for example didactic lectures, group discussions, demonstrations, hands on experience, problem based learning, role play, communication skills etc. The module also includes structured assessment. This becomes completely objective oriented and aligns theory and practical skills that are required for clinical practice. The students well appreciated these modules and we are observing the effect of this type of training during the internship.
Education with entertainment is another method of teaching that enables people get educated without stress. This type of education system was very much prevalent in ancient India. We have experimented and succeeded in introducing edutainment in Ayurveda education. For example in Rachana sharira while teaching different body movements like flexion, extension, pronation, supination etc. apart from defining and demonstrating, the movements are incorporated into physical education exercises and practiced in the playground. The students enjoyed and could easily demonstrate the anatomical movements. Similarly pick and act, mock court sessions, dumb charades etc. activities are introduced in integrated modular teaching as well as at appropriate places of teaching and training.
Involvement of students while on hands on experience at the time of integrated module implementation made us think of activity based/project based learning. As an initial step we thought of giving project ‘Development of Pharmacy’ as a single project for complete batch of students. After returning from educational tour where students had a chance to visit standard pharma industry, students were grouped under various groups say for example, regulatory issues, human resource, financial management, civil works, equipment, raw material management, quality issues, marketing etc. and all groups to coordinate core committee. To our surprise all the teams worked with good coordination and prepared a good project. In my opinion we may not be able to provide that much understanding by regular teaching. Now it is tough time for teachers to find suitable projects every year.
In anatomy dissection once any part is dissected it is difficult to repeat the same. To overcome this problem, we introduced e-dissection before going for actual dissection. Students used to practice layer wise dissection repeatedly till they get a clear idea and then go for actual dissection. This exercise helped in repeated practices as well as guided dissection.
Medical science is a practical science. In general our time tables are framed with practical classes of two hours. There are some practicals which require more time, especially Bhaishajyakalpana practicals. Identifying these lacunae, we came out with lengthy practical day. In a month one fixed day say for example every third Saturday is allotted only for department of Rasashastra & Bhaishajyakalpana. The department identified what are the practical classes that require more time and schedule. We have selected Saturday with the reason that even if it requires more time, then it is continued to Sunday. With this small exercise we have been able to provide maximum exposure within the stipulated hours of teaching.
Samhita are the integral part of Ayurveda education and are non-separable in Ayurveda education. Knowledge of Sanskrit is a pre-requisite for the study of samhita. Though Sanskrit is taught in first BAMS, students are hardly able to utilise this training in samhita pathana. The root cause analysis of this problem let us understand that, the examples given in Sanskrit teaching are something different and not related to Samhita at all. On trial basis we planned for integration of Sanskrit and samhita pathana. In this exercise, Sanskrit teacher explained Sanskrit with examples from samhita, Then students applied the same principles in a given chapter of samhita under the guidance of sanskrit teacher as well as teacher of basic principles. This resulted in satisfactory inclination of students towards samhita.
The living conditions and the spectrum of diseases between urban and rural population is entirely different. It is essential to expose the students to both these aspects. National Service Scheme (NSS) special camp is one of the activities where in students are supposed to stay in a village and involve in NSS activity. We thought of merging NSS special camp and exposing the students to rural health status. After deliberations we prepared health survey proforma incorporating living conditions such as area, ventilation, sanitation, hygiene etc. and the health status of the individuals living in the house in terms of prakriti, nutrition, food habits, personal hygiene and the disease conditions they are suffering from. The students were trained for survey methods, interview techniques and to advice accordingly. This exercise enabled students to get exposed to real living conditions. Without compromising the main objective of NSS special camp, we were able to implement this exercise efficiently. Now it is a regular program of Swasthvritta department.
Before commencement of each profession/year students are trained/fine-tuned for patient care approaches through induction programmes, wherein activity based sessions on communication, etiquettes, professional approach imbibing current approaches with the traditional practises are taught. Students are trained in adhering to SOPs and best practises for example fitness for nasya procedure. Few of the Algorithmic and integrative approaches are also brought into practise. Proactive approach in Pharmacovigilance  is advocated. It is widely observed that research,  out of the box thinking and cross talk with other disciplines of science is lacking among the students. Hence students are encouraged to bring novel ideas/ solutions/projects. They are exposed to other disciplines like engineering institutes, pharma industry, pioneering institutes through out of the campus postings. Few of their suggestions/out comes are incorporated into education/best practises.
The advanced learners, if opportunity given, can acquire additional knowledge and skills. Further there are certain topics that can be elaborated into useful courses. For example prakriti, single drug therapy, pharmaceutics etc. Considering these issues our DAME came out with choice based credit courses. These courses can be completed concurrently with main course. There are three choice based credit courses at each professional BAMS. Students can choose any one course and can complete. By the end of the course one can have four additional certificates and respective competencies.
These are certain innovations/initiations successfully implemented by KLE in respect to Ayurveda education. It is quite common to hear from the teachers of Ayurveda that ‘present generation of students are not interested in studies especially in Ayurveda’. In my observation, experience and opinion it is the institutes and the faculty that can bring a change. If the facilities are adequate and the teaching and training is with full of knowledge and skill that is useful for their livelihood, then students will definitely attend and follow. This is our humble effort to enlighten the institutes and faculty for meaningful change that can revolutionise Ayurveda education there by Ayurveda practice.
Dr. B. Srinivasa Prasad MD Ph.D
Department of Panchakarma,
Shri B M K Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya,
KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research (Deemed-to-be-University)
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How to cite this article: Prasad B S. KLE Initiatives Towards Quality Education In Ayurveda. Indian J Ayurveda Res 2018;1:1-3