Medical Imaging is the creating of images of the human body or its parts in their respective functions with an aim of examining and diagnosing diseases and conditions. The discipline integrates radiology, medical thermographs, endoscopy, medical photography as well as microscopy. Medical imaging along with associated technology has improved the process of delivering health care to patients not only in Germany but also in the whole world. It has increased the speed as well as the accuracy of diagnosis giving billions of patients chance to survive. However, this has come with some costs. This improvement has also come with new ways of teaching basic sciences in medical schools. This paper describes the various impacts of medical imaging on Germany’s culture and society in regards to education.
Picture archiving coupled with improved communication systems has made body images readily available to medical students making it easier to integrate this discipline in the medical curriculum. This expanded the use of imaging, in all medicine related schools in Germany. Information technology has advanced medical imaging through proper display, storage and transfer of the images which is not only useful to the doctors but also to the medical students.
Though it remains out of debate whether to teach anatomy in medical schools, the method of teaching and learning has raised a lot of discussions in Germany. For example, the use of cadavers for dissection has been criticized by many as costly, time-consuming as well as highly risky. Some medical schools have done away with this old method of teaching and instead they have sought alternatives which include the use of diagnostic images. Humphrey G.M. 2005 said that mastering all the facts of anatomy is indispensable in the practice of surgery, as well as appreciation of physiology. He pointed out that learning of these facts in a correct manner enhances the habit of always being attentive as well as accurate since they are closely associated. The new methods lead to students being prone to forget the knowledge they strained to acquire.
Learning for medical students gets so simplified with imaging. While this has helped them understand the field better at a lower cost and effort, it is argued that it makes students lazy. The fact that one can access these images from the internet and other archives have made students take anatomy for granted and they no longer work as hard as it used to be. Most professionals who oppose the use of medical imaging in schools have sited: anatomy will lose its relevance and medical schools will breed lazy doctors, who cannot undertake surgeries with the required level of confidence. They have praised the use of cadavers by saying that it instilled experience in medical students.
Although medical imaging has reduced the risk of using cadavers in the learning process, it has it is associated with its own risks too. It involves the use of strong and extremely dangerous rays whose effects can last for an unusually long time. Given the fact that students can be more vulnerable due to their lack of experience, caution could be put in place to prevent unwanted exposure. The equipments should also be reinforced properly to ensure that no leakages will occur.
Medicine should promote more practice than theory. Adopting medical imaging promotes theoretical learning, which is not acceptable as students should learn and gain competence in surgery too. It is undisputed that medical imaging has offered numerous clinical and educational possibilities; such that one could wonder whether, there is any need for cadaveric dissection for teaching and learning of anatomy. However, many professionals agree that cadaveric dissection has so many benefits that cannot be found in any models or medical images. This is because some images may be so complex that they cannot be displayed with medical images even the three dimensional ones. In addition, cadaver dissection gives students the feeling of the tissues as well as the courage to deal real problems of treating a patient like death. This exceptional characteristic of dissection cannot be found in medical images.
For a very long time, medical knowledge used to be obtained in laboratories and the skill would require extreme caution and keenness to be acquired. In that case, the students will retain it for the rest of their lives unlike these days where the increasing complexity with which radiology can diagnose the human body coupled with information technology availability, makes the knowledge of anatomy easier to acquire and thus easier to forget. The learning and teaching of medical students has been transformed completely in the whole world. However, the society at large has everything to rejoice since medical imaging has saved the lives of many through faster and accurate diagnosis. This has saved doctors the problem of having to conduct unnecessary operations to diagnose diseases.