The most stilted and uncomfortable part of the MBBS are the communications skills classes. Worse even than the ethics classes.
The twenty-odd students sit around for a three hour session, looking unhappy and uncommunicative and annoyed that it's Friday afternoon and they're learning to be empathetic. Of all classes, you need some kind of dialogue or contribution for the session to have any kind of meaning.
Some of the approaches taken by the facilitators doesn't help. Having had a consistently sympathetic discussion around the social situation of a facially disfigured person, he was keen for us to come up with some less kind judgments to make. It was clearly against the nature of everyone in the group to say unpleasant things... I'm not sure that by stimulating this kind of response the guy was raising an awareness of its inappropriateness. From what I saw, no one would have dreamed of being so insensitive... until the facilitator had egged them on.
He then said: "Please don't react like this when you see a patient like this".
Not a chance of that happening.