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tl;dr - I want to rely on Tutors from other institutes without offending the ones at mine (for not turning to them instead)


I'm studying Undergrad Medicine in South Asia.

The curriculum is pretty interesting, however, there are a few problems I face.

Most of my Tutors/Professors,

  1. Aren't exactly keen on discussing topics/information that isn't explicitly mentioned in our course textbooks (which in turn, is the work of local publishers and is regrettably riddled with poor wording, shoddy formatting and incorrect or outdated info)
  2. Are usually reluctant to provide us with the rationale/intuition, even for stuff that is in our textbooks.
  3. Are usually very busy. So it gives me next to no time to sit down and clear questions with them. (Texting or mailing them is just as difficult)

They're all really nice people and have been very encouraging so far, but for the reasons listed above (exacerbated by a ridiculously rigid education-system), I've found it difficult to grow as a student under them. Changing courses isn't an option I have.

Therefore, I hope to approach (E-mail?) Professors from other institutes with my questions. Assuming they're able to reply reasonably quickly (and satisfactorily), I'll seek to establish regular interactions with them.

However, there's a very real chance that they are in contact with the faculty at my institute (among others); my institute regularly holds Conventions to which faculty-member from other institutes are invited. If my Tutors were to find out that I'm actively turning to people other than themselves for my questions, they're likely to take it as a personal insult.

So on one hand, when I go Tutor-hunting, I need to make it clear in my E-mails that the resources and Tutors at my home-institute are inadequate (regrettably) for my growth as a student, lest they misjudge the gravity of situation. On the other hand, I can't just bluntly tell them "My Tutors and I aren't exactly on the same wavelength" (this is putting it mildly), because should they end up meeting my Tutors and mentioning this, it'll cause irreparable damage to my relationship with them.

I suppose my question ultimately boils down to this:

So when I first approach a Professor from another institute (this is likely to be by E-mail), how exactly do I word my introduction? In a way that won't potentially incriminate me down the road, that is.

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Most important, I question your statement that you need to "make it clear" that you are dissatisfied with your current faculty. That seems like a terrible idea unless you wish to break ties with your current institution.

You can, of course, reach out to people about topics of interest without giving motives beyond your interest in their work and the answers they might give you.

But there may be little incentive for people to give you very much support, as they are busy and have their own responsibilities. But I don't think you improve that incentive, at all, by complaining about your current situation.

If your emails are subject/topic based then word getting back to your current professors should have no consequences. But if you say offensive things, you can expect that people will take offense.

But you might also ask yourself whether you are at the right institution or whether you should be looking for another.

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  • +1 Yep. Now that you mention it, whining about my current institute in the Email isn't exactly the smartest thing to do. I'll give this answer a day or two before I accept it. Thanks! :-) – paracetamol Sep 2 '19 at 15:11
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It sounds like the issue you have is a knowledge or veracity of information issue. If you are being taught incorrect information, it would have serious implications for you when you practice and sit exams.

The issue is how to clear and develop a system to mitigate and manage the issue of incorrect and correct information. I definitely think that formally approaching outside institutions will not solve this problem and also expose you to your current institution. No professor or other group will help you with educational deficits from your own education. The scope and complexity is too broad and demand is too intensive for ongoing discussion.

Are there anyone or other instructor that can support you in your institution even if it is outside their field of practice? Clinicians or invited clinical speakers are usually broad enough to verify and point to relevant resources without implicating themselves too much with your problematic teaching staff. In the clinical world there are always clashes of treatment and diagnostic approaches so this is quite a familiar issue compared to lecturing by non-clinicians.

Are you able to source and afford tutors or instructors privately? There are always online support and education options but unfortunately cost is a big issue. Expanding your collaboration is another way. Medical SE will be happy to clarify your connundrums if you are able to cite sources and the area of doubt with your instructor for example.

Good luck. Learning to deal with the hierarchy is an important part of medicine. Despite being a "science", evidence based medicine can be subverted and ignored by the hierarchy. Learning how to deal with this tension and duality is tough but important.

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