One Snake or Two? Exploring Medical Symbols Among Medical Students

Kehinde Kanmodi, Adebayo Oladimeji, Ayomikun Adesina Miracle, Francis Fagbule Omotayo, Emerenini Franklin

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Abstract Background: Symbols play a very crucial role in the culture of a society, and the medical society is not an exception to this. In the world of Orthodox medicine, the Rod of Asclepius is regarded as the true symbol of medicine. However, there exists to be an issue of interchange of the correct medical symbol (i.e. Rod of Asclepius) with another similar symbol (i.e. the Caduceus). This study aims to explore medical students’ knowledge and opinion on the appropriate symbol of medicine. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional survey of 84 medical students at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University (UDU), North-West Nigeria. Study tool was a paper questionnaire. The collected data were analyzed using the Epi info 7 Software. Results: The mean (±SD) age of the participants was 23.7 (±3.4) years, 72.6% were males, and 73.8% were in their 4 th year. Only 59.5% had interest in non-medical literature. Also, only 6.0% had doctors as their parents. The majority (88.1%) of the participants erroneously identified the Caduceus symbol as the most appropriate symbol of medicine. Furthermore, only 45.2% indicated that the Rod of Asclepius and the Caduceus symbols originated from ancient Greece. Virtually all (97.6%) the participants opined that the Caduceus symbol is the most popular symbol of Medicine. Finally, the majority (73.8%) of the participants recommended that a course on the History of Medicine should be added to the medical curriculum of their school. Conclusion: This study found that the majority of the surveyed medical students did not know much about the historically correct medical symbol. This shows the need for awareness creation on the true symbol of medicine among medical students, and even the public-at-large.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78 - 87
JournalActa Medica Martiniana
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


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