Spreading Ignorance in Higher Education


I have not been so angry in a very long time.

I can’t even fully express how angry and sad I am.

My Anatomy and Physiology professor, someone who should by all means know better, went and spread some horribly ignorant information to a lecture hall of 330 people.

We have been studying the endocrine system. In his last lecture he discussed the pancreas and diseases related to malfunctions of the pancreas.  He differentiated between type 1 and type 2 and pointed out that type 1 is more rare.

But that’s about as far as his correct information went.

First of all, his lecture slides indicated that ‘some cases of Type 1 are caused by an autoimmune response’. Since when are just some cases autoimmune? Just about every single case of type 1 is autoimmune. The one and only exception that I know of is someone who’s had to have their pancreas removed due to trauma, and that’s very rare.

That didn’t make me too mad.  Maybe it was just me being picky over wording (I told myself). But then he went on.

He said that type 1 is cured by giving insulin.

CURED.

CURED.

Are you flipping kidding me? He actually used the word ‘cured’.

I was so flabbergasted I couldn’t even speak up to correct him in class. I was stunned. I was in shock. How in the heck can someone say insulin is a CURE?

I emailed him this afternoon. I explained how I’ve had Type 1 for 21 years, and if insulin was going to cure me, it wouldn’t take 21 years to happen. I explained how often Type 1 diabetics face so much ignorance about how we treat and manage diabetes; how people often think if we just eat better or exercise more we will be cured. I told him how I don’t want an entire lecture hall full of students who are going into the medical field to potentially think insulin is a CURE….because it isn’t.

I asked him to rescind his statement from today in his next lecture. I asked him to please clarify for the class that insulin is a TREATMENT, which is keeping people with Type 1 alive until a cure can be found.

I have received no response yet. If he doesn’t respond, I may spam my entire class via the email reflector we’re on and explain it.  I would never normally do something like that, but I can’t stand to know that there are probably some people in the class who don’t know anyone with Type 1 and who didn’t read the textbook (which does an excellent job of describing Type 1) and who took what our professor said at face value.

Seriously….we are in major trouble in terms of disseminating accurate information if those educating our future medical professionals can’t even get it right.

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6 thoughts on “Spreading Ignorance in Higher Education

  1. I consider myself lucky that my professors at my local community college have done a pretty good job at explaining type 1 diabetes. I haven’t really felt the need to pipe up, but I’m wondering how things will change when I actually get into nursing school. I think you should definitely send a note to your class explaining briefly about diabetes and let them know they can reach out to you if they have any other questions. It’s completely within your right, I think! Good luck!

  2. I can’t wait to hear the follow-up story to this one …. (and I’m hoping there will be one!).

    Good for you for speaking up — and nothing wrong with doing it outside of class and not interrupting the lecture!

  3. It takes a lot of courage to correct someone, especially your professor! Thanks for working to dispel that myths about type 1. People like you are making the world a better place for kids like my daughter. Please let us know how he responds! 🙂

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