Medicine is not only clinical work but is also concerned with relationships, team work, systems, communication skills, research, publishing, and critical appraisal

The JIPMER study

MCI Guidelines

Competencies required of Medical educators

Competency based curriculum for residents

Theory of multiple intelligences

Multiple intelligences

Questionnaire to calculate multiple intelligence

Ability is defined as the power and skills to do, think, act and make.


The word ‘scholastic’ means “of or concerning schools and teaching”. By implication the word non-scholastic can be taken to mean “not of or concerning schools and teaching”.


We often hear that school or college grades are not all. It is also observed that in real life situations, it is not just the IQ that matters but emotional and spiritual quotient as well. In medical profession- which deals with human touch- these aspects of learning become vital. While it is inherently ingrained in some, most of us need to train to develop these abilities. In general, non-scholastic abilities include those abilities which are not traditionally taught and evaluated in schools. These abilities include attitudes, moral values, leadership, motivation, etc.


Specifically, non-scholastic abilities in the medical profession can be defined as general abilities that are not specific to medicine but these are needed for effective functioning of any caring person. These abilities reflect the later performance of the students as doctors. Hence, this is the concern of curriculum planners or medical educators.


While framing a medical curriculum following learning outcomes have been described by various institutions, bodies and policy makers:

1.      Knowledge

2.      Comprehension

3.      Application

4.      Analysis

5.      Synthesis

6.      Evaluation

7.      Drawing and sketching skills

8.      Ability to handle instruments

9.      Communication skills (Skills in writing and talking) and ability to communicate with peers, teachers, patients and assertiveness)

10.   Social skills (Team work and leadership, discipline, ability to share, confidence or diffidence)

11.   Personal qualities (Regularity, punctuality, hard work and attitude to work, inventiveness, originality and initiative, dependability, Psychological robustness)

12.   Interest

13.   Positive and Scientific attitude

14.   Appreciation

15.   Originality and Creativity

16.   Participation in sports and other extracurricular activities, hobbies, social service activities

17.   Body language/ non-verbal communication

  1. IT skills: Computer, internet


In general a medical graduate is expected to be alert, observant, adaptable, honest and caring.


Similarly the following abilities (both scholastic and non-scholastic) have been identified for residents.


1. History taking

2. Physical examination

3. Diagnostic approach

4. Management approach

5. Procedural skills

6. Record keeping

7. Understanding the basic mechanisms

8. Responsibility and conduct

9. Relationship with patients and their families

10. Relationship with peers and other professionals

11. Self-directed learning


In the above list items 8, 9 and 10 fall under non-scholastic abilities. Responsibility and conduct include punctuality, reliability, dependability, enthusiasm, and reaction under stress, observation of work routines and standards of conduct.  Relationship with patients and their families includes availability during non-working hours, caring approach to patients, giving clear and appropriate information and keeping patients’ family informed and involved. Relationship with peers and other professionals includes collaboration, giving clear / courteous instruction and information, accepting constructive criticism and maintenance of team spirit.


A survey of 25 doctors belonging to different specialties was conducted (by Dr Santosh Kumar, JIPMER) to ascertain the qualities they considered most desirable while choosing their doctors. 24 doctors responded. A total of 147 responses were obtained. Their responses could be grouped into the following pedagogically meaningful groups:


1          Be caring

2          Diagnose and manage health problems

3          Be responsible

4          Be approachable

5          Be affordable

6          Have good reputation

7          Counsel and teach

8          Be patient

9          Be willing and able to manage emergencies

10         Be aware of one’s limitations

11         Solve problems

12         Communicate well


Interestingly only group 2 belongs to scholastic abilities and all other groups belong to non-scholastic abilities. Thus, non-scholastic abilities are as important as scholastic abilities.


The MCI guidelines (1997) stipulate that

·        Undergraduate medical education should be oriented towards health and community as opposed to disease and hospital.

·        The graduate must develop humanistic qualities in discharging professional obligations and be able to function as leader of the health team in urban and rural settings.

·        Students’ training must aim at inculcating scientific temper, logical and scientific reasoning, clarity of expression, and ability to gather and analyze information.

·        The graduate should be able to appreciate the socio-psychological, cultural, economic and environmental factors, affecting health and develop humane attitude towards the patient in discharging one’s professional responsibilities.

·        The student should be able to work as a leading partner in health care teams and acquire proficiency in communication skills.

·        The graduate should have personal characteristics and attitudes required for professional life such as personal integrity, sense of responsibility and dependability and ability to relate to or show concern for other individuals.




Overview of the learning process

Questions posed

Communication skills

Scientific temper

Interpersonal Skills

Emotional Intelligence

Leadership and teamwork


Service Orientation

Assessment of Non-scholastic abilities

Dialogue and discussion by the Chatterati!

Summary Introduction



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