Adapted from a talk by Dr. Rajan Sankaran at LIGA – Delhi, 2016. He presented a holistic approach which will help revolutionize the outlook of homoeopathic education and training.
(Editor’s Note: You can watch the video of this talk on YouTube. See link at the end of this article)
We are all aware of the problems that surround homoeopathic education and training. In this article, I will enumerate them. The interesting part however, is the solution to these problems. This singular solution is not something that we are only dreaming of, but it has in fact been our reality over the past five years. The model we have created has proved to be highly successful, and continues to reach many parts around the world redefining homeopathic training.
My core belief is that what homoeopathy, as a system really needs, are good homoeopaths. A good homeopath is someone you can trust with your own health. I believe that good education, especially first-rate training, is mandatory for creating fine homeopaths.
I have taught in the OPD (Outpatient Department) at Mumbadevi Hospital, Irla, Mumbai over the past 30 years and I have also lectured at more than 500 seminars globally since 1983. Besides, I have also been an associate professor in the Repertory department at C.M.P Homoeopathic College, Mumbai for the past 25 years. With a group of doctors from HRC (Homoeopathic Research and Charities), including my colleagues Dr. Jayesh Shah, Dr. Sujit Chatterjee, we have invited and organized teaching seminars with renowned homeopaths like George Vithoulkas, Sehgal, the Kolkatta Group, Roger and Nancy Morrison, Misha Norland, Heiner Frei, Sunirmal Sarkar and countless others as speakers. Since 1983, we have had students, local and international approaching us to learn our methods. I am also the founding member of WISH (World Institute of Sensation Homoeopaths), an association of more than 70 international homoeopaths.
For the past five years, I have been the Head of ‘the other song’ clinic and academy, where we conduct a variety of courses from a basic level to the post-graduate level, affiliated with the MUHS (Maharashtra University of Health Sciences). I teach at the academy almost on a daily basis through live cases. This is the reality that I was referring to earlier on. Now, we will address the areas of concern as well as the solution of how to improve homeopathic education and training.
The first step is to attract students towards homoeopathy, but the question is how do we attract them?
How do we make homoeopathy more attractive so that students are more inclined to consider enrolling in a homeopathic college? All around the world, there are not enough students in homoeopathic colleges and those who are enrolled in the college are not serious about practicing homoeopathy. This is the first issue. What are the reasons for this? Here are some reasons:
The FIRST is that we are not publicizing our results in a systematic and unified manner. There are no websites or other places where people can see the results of our treatment. Here the solution would be creating a unified platform of publicity where the testimonials and the results of ALL homeopaths are published, no matter which school they belong to. Every homeopath has a few remarkably treated cases, however they are not found on a singular website or a hub.
The SECOND reason why we cannot fill our classrooms is that many do not see homoeopathy as a mode of livelihood, which can help them earn good money. This perception needs to be changed. It is true that many practices do not go anywhere. The solution for this is multifold and we will address it when we come to the issues that students and graduates face.
The THIRD reason is the lack of scientific research that supports homoeopathy. Because of this, people with a scientific mindset do not want to opt for homoeopathy. They don’t see the evidence and therefore steer clear of it. In the USA, homoeopathy is under vigorous attack for the lack of scientific evidence. My son who is at Yale University is embarrassed to tell his colleagues that his parents are homoeopaths and in order to have some respectability, he just tells them, “They deal in drugs!” This lack of scientific evidence is a global issue as far as homoeopathy is concerned.
The FOURTH reason is that a large number of young graduates who desire to practice lack confidence in their abilities to set up a successful practice. So many times, out of no choice (as they also need to support their families) many of them end up practicing allopathy or drift away into other fields. The issue of lack of confidence can be addressed by inspiring the students and young graduates, educating them on the recent advances and tools in homoeopathy and by imparting intensive clinical training to graduates by expert homeopaths, which is a must for homoeopathic practice. Some individuals in India also seek admission into homeopathic colleges as a backdoor entry into medical practice.
Problems facing students enrolled in homoeopathic colleges:
The faith of the students in homoeopathy is usually minimal or completely absent. This is especially true for the Indian scenario and is absent in the West as only those interested in homoeopathy will pursue it in the first place.
We do not get the cream of the crop of students. We are often scraping the bottom of the barrel. Those who did not get into MBBS, Dentistry, Cosmetics …become homeopaths! Some girls simply get into homeopathic colleges just to get the title – Dr., as it ushers in better marriage prospects. This is the harsh reality which we face. These people never intend to practice homoeopathy in the first place. So, what should we do with them?
The quality of homoeopathic education needs revision, where equal emphasis should be laid on clinical application and training alongside formal theory education. There are very few opportunities for the budding homoeopaths to interact with experienced senior homoeopaths, due to which the upcoming generation of homoeopaths lacks the necessary inspiration. To put it simply, they lack the role models! When you see Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan, you want to be like them. …but in some homeopathic schools, they do not see or hear about these role models. There is thus a disconnect between colleges and practitioners.
The lack of exposure to contemporary advances is also a plaguing issue. Some college students are learning Kent’s Repertory exclusively, whereas the contemporary ideas and software have taken homoeopathy to the next level. The number of remedies has gone from 300 to 4000. Every day, new remedies are being proved, but are students aware of these?! There are several methodologies (including Jan Scholten’s, Massimo’s, Sensation, Banerjee’s) and softwares (Mac Rep and Radar) that the students are not aware of. These developments and methodologies would enhance and inspire the students, allowing homoeopathy to become more focused.
The relative absence of specialized teachers is another problem area. Homoeopathy like any other science has many departments, subjects, and areas of expertise and there are specialists in each department. The same is the case in allopathy– there is cardiology, surgery, oncology etc. and you cannot expect all of the experts to be present in every college. To quote a few examples of homoeopathic experts, there is Heiner Frei from Switzerland who exclusively uses Boenninghausen’s approach, Bhanu Desai in India who mostly uses Boger-Boenninghausen’s method, Sunirmal Sarkar who excels at treating pathological cases. Thus there are various experts on so many topics like LM potency, Case Taking, Repertory, Materia Medica, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Oncology and skin conditions and they are found in all corners of the world. Making use of modern methodology, homoeopaths like Scholten, Massimo and Becker have invented their specific and individual approaches in homoeopathy. These doctors are not found everywhere.
The problem is that students are not exposed to the experts and their respected expertise, due to which they lack both information and inspiration. One of the solutions for this of course, is technology. Realistically, you cannot get everyone together, but having a central library of lectures and talks will help resolve this problem by transmitting them to students and homeopathic practitioners of all levels. Homoeopaths can then be exposed to the highest quality of practitioners from every area across the world.
Here, I will introduce the project – HOPE, which is already been initiated at the other song academy. HOPE means Homoeopathy Online Portal for Education and we are hoping that it will help to enhance homeopathic education and training of students and practitioners around the world.
The relative lack of clinical training is one of the key issues responsible for not making successful practitioners out of students. We all know that the practice of homoeopathy is an art which includes mastering the art of case taking, art of analysis, art of eliciting peculiar symptoms, art of repertorization and matching the symptoms with materia medica, the art of applying new techniques (miasms, kingdom), the art of follow-up, the art of counseling the patient and the art of practice itself.
Clinical training means ACTUALLY TRAINING IN THE CLINIC (where the action is happening)! We have OPDs that the students sit in, but these OPDs often have problems. They are crowded, there are too many students standing around, patients do not have privacy to express, case taking is not possible in depth and there is lack of time in every way to do the case and explain its analysis. The OPD is a good beginning where some foundation can be laid. However, for extensive and thorough training, there have to be extensions of this tool, in the form of specialized training centres.
Students should be well-equipped with knowledge and training, but practice is a different ballgame entirely and they should be equally prepared for that too. Practicing homoeopathy not only involves technical skills and scientific knowledge about the system, but also many other soft skill sets, such as understanding of human nature, presenting yourself properly, communication, ethics, patient care, counseling, incorporating other disciplines which are holistic into practice (such as diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, art, music), and creating awareness in the patients about homoeopathy and follow-ups. Along with these areas, which help development of a person as a physician, the students also need training in the logistics and economics of running a clinic before they set up their practice. If this is missing, then success in practice is compromised.
We have to focus on the development of the physician as a human and a human as a physician. This is a subtle yet critical aspect, especially for holistic healing practitioners, like homeopaths. It involves a certain spiritual orientation.
Another area of concern is CONFUSION among students. Homeopathy as we all know is a very individualized form of medicine. We individualize the patient, but the practitioners are also individualized and speak in different voices, often creating confusion among the students. Some say pathology is important, some say only mind is important, some speak of sensation and others of miasm. There are different methodologies of practice that are in great contrast to one another. Each one claims exclusivity and unlimited success. Sometimes we are in the habit of putting down other methods. Students who listen to various teachers get very confused. For this, there are two solutions:
- Bringing all the schools together, and beginning a dialogue to understand each other
- Acknowledging that all methodologies are valid, all have their scope and limitations, and that specific methodologies suit certain cases better.
A student must learn all of this in an integrated matter – to see the whole first and then learning to see where and how each methodology fits into that whole. The true success of different methodologies lies in the student understanding that they all are different approaches which lead to the same conclusion. For this we need an integrated teaching facility. Here I would like to mention this quote:
“Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
Have oft-times no connection,
Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men,
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.”
– William Cowper
All of this knowledge becomes confusion, unless things are fitted into their place. For this we need dialogue, sharing, and we need to bring all ideas on one platform. the other song – International Academy of Advanced Homoeopathy is one such example of an open platform where we have attempted to integrate various methodologies leading to an automatic exchange of knowledge.
There is often a lack of teacher-orientation courses. Teachers need to be constantly upgraded and updated. They need to be reoriented about the latest advances. This is happening but not in an organized and systematic manner.
Often a homeopathic student is not aware of diagnostic, pharmacological and clinical aspects. So a re-orientation from the student’s end is important. Possible solutions include having more specialty clinics, where homeopaths and allopaths work together. This is a very favourable scenario for homoeopathy as a system, especially from a research point of view. This concept of holistic health clinics not only promotes learning among the students, but also helps the patient to avail of an integrated therapy, comprising of the best modalities of holistic care. These kinds of setups, which serve as centres of excellence along with their satellite branches help create many job opportunities for young homoeopaths.
Mentorship programs will help take our science to another level. Mentorship is invaluable, especially for beginners when they seek support for their difficult cases. The right kind of support and advice can successfully guide them during their “make or break” time.
Role of India in Improving Standards of Homoeopathy Globally
Now that we have addressed all of the problematic areas in homeopathic education and training, let me discuss the topic of how can India help? What can India do for homoeopathy worldwide? Here is a three-step formula that can help us improve the education system and clinical training of homeopathic students all around the world.
Indian homeopaths see the maximum amount of patients, ailing from a wide spectrum of diseases. Due to public popularity and government recognition of homoeopathy, as our Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi desires, India has tremendous potential to be a Global Hub for Homoeopathy, making it a place where all homoeopaths from around the world come to for a systematic, clinical-based training. The latest methodologies in homoeopathic practice come from India. We need to be the ones to inspire and lead all homoeopaths around the world.
The thing that I have found most effective (and what has inspired me also), as a young homeopath, is being shown the results. I witnessed this from a very young age with my father, who was a homeopath. I had seen many acutes and many other intense, pathological cases being treated successfully. Because of this, my faith in homoeopathy was unshakable even in my early days. So, we must show students positive results in order to boost their confidence and faith in the system.
Secondly, students must be exposed to homoeopaths who are naturally inspiring. The messages that come across when students see these individuals are:
- Homoeopathy works
- Homoeopathy works on definite principles (namely holism, individualization and similia)
- It is reproducible
Finally, students must learn that homoeopathy is interesting, exciting, a great opportunity for success and a means for livelihood. But how can all of this happen?
I have found that Mega Seminars, where there is an audience of 800-1200 people, are very inspiring especially if there is a senior homoeopath who is demonstrating successful cases from his practice. The same thing can also be done online, but it is much more effective if it is done in person. Recently, Dr. Desarda organized a seminar in Aurangabad, which was attended by 900 participants including students and teachers of 10 colleges in the vicinity. The seminar was just for a day, but I felt that the seed of homoeopathy was planted deep in a lot of those young minds.
Just seeing someone speak on the subject with confidence, showing cases with good results and illustrating concepts of homoeopathy, is enough to inspire the students. Even if 10 out of 900 students at these seminars get inspired, it is worth it. I believe that students should be inspired right from the first year of college to the post-graduate level, through these big seminars. These types of practitioners, who have the ability to inspire, are generally very busy. Therefore colleges need to organize big, mega seminars which many students can attend. These will be more organized and will also value the time of the practitioner.
We have lots of these teachers here in India, but unfortunately, many times, the students never see them. The solution here is to conduct regular motivational lectures for undergraduate students by demonstration of thoroughly documented successful cases treated by Homoeopathy.
After inspiration, the next most important stage is information. We need to keep our budding homeopaths informed as there are two critical steps that allow for the best homeopathic education. First, one must master the fundamentals of Organon, Materia Medica and Repertory. The next step is to expose students to various contemporary approaches like the Sensation method, ICR method, the Sehgal method, Predictive Homeopathy and Banerjee’s protocols, to broaden their horizon. To supplement the students’ college studies, we need to introduce lectures with specific topics or on a specific subject with a clinical base. These concepts need to be illustrated over and over again, through the use of video cases, so students can see the practical application of learnt knowledge.
Only when you see the knowledge being practically put to use, will it sink deeply into one’s being. We must start building a bridge to mend the gap between college education and practice in order to facilitate efficient homeopathic education. I remember one case of Vithoulkas, where he asked the patient if she ever got angry. She said yes. But then after a big pause, she said, “When someone contradicts me, I want to kill, kill, kill.” This made the rubric of Mercury come alive for me, and I have never forgotten it. This type of clinical-based learning allows students to remember symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Furthermore, when speaking about the importance of informing students, I want to emphasize that we must begin illustrating the concepts learnt in college through cases (video or live) and lectures. We also must bring in contemporary advances –including software, provings, methodologies, repertories, materia medica. This can be done through books, webinars and through a library of lectures. We have started the creation of this portal (HOPE) which colleges can borrow for a small fee and play for their students from time to time. Special seminars, e.g. Pathology series, Psychiatry Series can be organized from time to time. We have successfully used this model for 4-5 years with remarkable results. This can be replicated and applied on a much larger scale.
After the students are inspired and informed, they must be instructed. This area involves vigorous clinical training. Ideally, cases should be shown through a live-relay, followed by a discussion, analysis and remedy prescription with the senior practitioner. This should be done for at least 6 months or more to allow for suitable understanding and training.
Implementation of 3-I model
How do we implement the “three-I” model comprising of INSPIRE, INFORM, INSTRUCT? How do we tackle all problems and attacks that homoeopathy and its education system are facing?
This brings me to the interesting part – the singular solution I had mentioned very early on. We must develop a Centre (or centres) of Excellence that act as a hub for homoeopathic information and education, funded and supported by the government. This centre should have a running clinic, and the facility to relay live cases to auditorium or classroom through audio-visual facilities. In this way, students are able to comfortably follow the case, using their laptops and other tools. Following the case-taking, the students can discuss with the senior teacher and then see the follow-ups of the cases later on, enabling a complete practical training. Thus, they learn the art of homoeopathy and also learn how to deal with patients in a real set-up, as OPD is not exactly a clinic setup.
This learning has to be systematic and long-term. This is the way that I learned homoeopathy. When I was a student I went to Dr. Phatak, Dr. Jugal Kishore, Dr. Kanjilal, and many others, and the majority of my learning was in their clinics.
I was studying with Dr. Chakravarti when a woman came to the clinic and told us, “I am sure my husband is having an affair.” He asked me, “What is the symptom?” I said, “Suspicious.” He said, “No, it is a fixed idea. She is absolutely sure that he is having an affair.” On this, Thuja was prescribed. When I looked up Thuja in the materia medica I found something interesting: “Irritable, jealous, quarrelsome towards husband or mother.” Dr. Chakravarti artfully read into the expression of the patient as well as the concept of fixed ideas, and came up with Thuja for her. This case taught me the art of actually listening to the patient.
Another case that comes to mind is the famous Conium case of Dr. Phatak. The patient came with a huge parotid tumor that was quite painful. When he tried to examine the patient, he said it was much too painful and when he touched it himself, it was hard. Dr. Phatak asked which side the patient preferred to lie on, and he explained that lying on the affected side was the best and most comfortable. Dr. Phatak was puzzled and asked, “I thought it was painful to touch, how do you manage to lie on the painful side?” The patient explained that he was lying on his side, but he was allowing the part to hang and not touch the pillow. He was given Conium. As we know, this medicine is for hard tumors of the glands, better by hanging. These are a few situations which emphasize the fact that the art is learnt only through real-life clinical situations and a long-term training.
Over 35 years of practice, I have had 17-18 assistants who apprenticed with me for 2 to 4 years each. Out of these, 9 of them are teaching internationally and have a great practice (without any homeopathic inheritance in their family). They have flourishing practices and are doing good work. I am now proud to have some of them as colleagues in the other song academy because I also learn from them. For the past 5 years, the other song – International Academy of Advanced Homoeopathy (TOS) has been a universal platform that welcomes all approaches in homoeopathy.
the other song has designed a step-by-step training programs to cater to students of all levels as well as busy practitioners, ranging from basic, advanced, masters, university-approved courses, and training in specialized subjects. The academy provides comprehensive clinical training through the state-of-the-art facility facilitating live transmission of cases, bridging the gap between theory and practice.
TOS (the other song) also has a facility to provide a relay of live cases and lectures, along with a possibility of two-way communication, so students all over India can receive the benefit. There is also a teachers training program and a variety of international courses, where a portion of the training is online, and the practicum is done in India itself. The other song academy also hosts a meeting of leaders of all schools in Mumbai once a month.
If we replicate this model we can achieve the following:
- Create the opportunity for individuals to go out into the world and inspire others to practice and take up homoeopathy
- Allow for the collection of cases from various practitioners, with testimonials from patients, all of which can be posted online.
- Create an open-house and wide platform, allowing experts to teach the subjects of their expertise. These can be recorded and used in various academies and colleges
- Host various lectures on specialties like pathology, oncology, pediatrics, psychiatry
- Emphasize clinical-based training
- Include a holistic health clinic, where students see that the application of holistic modalities such as homoeopathy, are not isolated and work best when integrated with other holistic healing modalities and lifestyle changes.
- Include specialty clinics – where the homeopaths alongside allopaths create a platform for research
- Host patient education and awareness seminars that act to inspire the patient, make them better patients and more in tune with homeopathic case-taking and philosophy
- Conduct teachers training courses which teach methodologies (techniques and art of teaching) by experts in the field of public speaking and presentation and by senior homeopathic teachers. The content training for these courses is also vital.
- Create a hub of education for countries all over the world. TOS has videos that are sent to various parts of the world and the students also come to the academy for intensive clinical training.
- Development of a centre that acts as a mother-centre for other satellite centres (Ex. Prana in Pune)
- Include inspiring mentorship programs and provision for supervision during case-taking by senior doctors which builds confidence and facilitates systematic training
- Conduct specialized or customized courses for international homeopathic students and practitioners.
The practitioners generally do not want to relinquish their practice, so we have even created CCAH (Certificate Course in Advanced Homoeopathy) /FCAH (Fellowship Course in Advanced Homoeopathy) courses at TOS, where the practitioners attend courses for 3 days every fortnight, watch live cases and learn through interaction with seasoned homoeopaths. They are taught how to apply learning from these lessons in an integrated manner. Thus they learn the fine art of practice and application of other alternative healing disciplines when necessary.
TOS being situated in the heart of the city makes it easy to draw patients and students. The clinic and academy are on separate floors, where we transmit the live-cases done many practitioners in the clinic to the academy, always focusing on the principles of homoeopathic practice – individuality and holism. The best results have always been from our 6-month training course and the feedback has always demonstrated a huge shift in participant’s confidence, skill and understanding. There are basic courses for interns, which are very inspiring and these courses are offered free of cost.
At TOS, there is a multi-tiered system to train students and graduates that helps to facilitate the best homeopathic education and training program.
- College lectures
- Foundation course for students
III. Basic course for students, interns and beginners
IIII. 6 month masters course in homoeopathy for practitioners
- Certificate course in advanced homoeopathy for practitioners
- Fellowship course in advanced homoeopathy for practitioners
VII. Teacher training courses
All in all, I have delineated the areas of concern and the problem areas of homeopathic education and training as well as the simple solutions for each. The creation of centres (based on the TOS model) with government support is crucial in taking homeopathic education to another level. These centres are the answer to the creation of good homeopaths, taking in homeopathic graduates and refining them to be the very best.
In my understanding, if among the thousands of students who graduate, 10 homeopaths are exposed to this type of training, homoeopathy all over the world will soon witness a huge refined shift. Homeopathy has sustained many attacks, and yet refuses to die simply because we have good practitioners who have excellent results to show. We need to keep this up by creating a new generation of good homoeopaths, and this is very much possible by training at these centres of excellence.
The huge funds that the government has earmarked for the development of homoeopathy and AYUSH, as well as the wealth of resources we have in terms of great practitioners and good administrators, should all come together to help achieve this goal. I write with desperate hope that these suggestions of mine will not merely remain words, but will see action. As the Head of the institute, on behalf of the other song I pledge my complete commitment to cooperating and guiding any initiative from any source in this direction.
Editor’s Note: You can watch the video of this talk on YouTube :
About the other song:
About ‘the other song: International Academy of Advanced Homoeopathy’: ‘the other song’ is a world class premier medical centre which puts good health and well being at the core of an academic culture dedicated to complete patient care. Situated in Mumbai, this institute is one of a kind, where a team of 35 doctors headed by Dr. Rajan Sankaran (the pioneer of the Sensation Approach in Homoeopathy) come together and practice Homoeopathy. At the Academy, the students and practitioners are trained in advanced Homoeopathic practices, using new methodologies in combination with the traditional approaches, all with the use of state-of-the-art technologies. The Academy is also a meeting point for different schools of thought in Homoeopathy, where renowned homoeopaths – national and international are invited to share their knowledge and experience, so that there is a constant flow of ideas on a common platform.