Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences (KGUMSB) has come up with a new curriculum that will enhance the soft skills of postgraduate (PG) doctors in addition to the clinical skills and knowledge.

KGUMSB started PG courses in 2014 to produce homegrown specialists.

Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) reprimanded three doctors and nurses on November 8 for the death of a patient in Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in April. The new curriculum is not only aimed at enhancing professional skills but also reducing preventable incidents in the health system.

Deputy Dean of KGUMSB, Dr Karma Tenzin, said, “We are working hard to enhance the soft skills of our PG residents in addition to the clinical skills and knowledge. We are doing it through incorporation of new modules in our PG curriculum such as medical humanities and multi-source feedback system.”

The contents of the new curriculum, Dr Karma Tenzin said, would also be taught to all health professionals through workshops with support from the government. He is of the view that while remuneration is only one aspect of issues in the health system, professional development of health workers is crucial.

The KGUMSB plans to make doctors more than mere proficient doctors by giving them critical communication skills.   

Besides providing other skills, PG residents will be trained on how to communicate with and counsel patients and their attendants.

The university is expected to role out the new chapter in the postgraduate studies in KGUMSB from the beginning of the coming year. This will mark a significant shift from the traditional ways of teaching and treatment to the one that attaches importance to better doctor-patient relationship and medical ethics and professionalism.

Strengthening medical ethics is expected to help reduce not only medical errors, but also improve a working environment in the hospital.

Major operating surgery, health professionals say, carries major risks for the first 48 hours. Soft skills also involve breaking bad news to the patient and their family, which according to doctors, require proper training and experience.

A doctor said that the number of patients doctors see in Bhutan was more than what they could handle.

President of KGUMSB, Dr KP Tshering, preferred not to comment on the reprimand handed to the health professionals. He also said that he did not receive any appeal letter from the doctors and nurses who were recently reprimanded.

BMHC’s registrar general, Sonam Dorji, said that his office too did not receive appeal letter from the doctors. “We have communicated our decision to the health professionals and the deceased’s family.”

MB Subba