Resuscitation of the ways we learn

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Dear readers: When I was in medical school, teaching methods were still pretty much old-fashioned: huge text books (mostly handed down through 2 – 3

Books are still necessary - but now there's more to them

Books are still necessary – but now there’s more to them

generations of students) with sporadic updates, typically dry lectures and practical exercises with an occasional power point clumsily executed as the most tech we would get – and then after a while you would take your exam and the cycle would repeat itself.

This landscape is drastically different nowadays even though it’s only been about a decade since the first smart phones had been rolled out and even less than that time since the Google, Facebook, the App store, iPhone, iPad and what not.

The ways physicians are being trained today incorporate more and more of these novel technologies and create deeply interconnected and interactive environments – we learn more easily and have more access to information and can constantly test ourselves with up-to-date facts and cases.

The Resuscitation

A colleague has recently recommended me to try and test a new app, a medical simulator built for mobile platforms (i.e. iPhone and iPad), which provides us with large variety of clinical cases to process from admission to discharge and with everything in between.

App's working environment with options

App’s working environment with options

The app’s name is the Resuscitation, it’s free to download from the App store and I was astounded to discover its versatility, realistic feel and the amount of useful feed back it provided.

If we speak about innovative ways to train both new and seasoned physicians as well as to provide an “access” to real cases to other interested professionals and even patients wanting to know more about what all physicians need to consider while treating a patient, this is the perfect app to showcase all that.

Now on to the short review:

Once you pick a case (randomly assigned or from a list) the app simulates a real environment in which you go through patient’s history and do the examination – the app helps by reminding you of all the stages and segments of an examination and you can also track your progress by seeing your score for all the things you’ve done correctly, incorrectly, unnecessarily or neutrally.

This scoring goes on for everything you do with the patient.

After the exam you may order different tests and procedures (like a variety of blood works, ultra sounds, X rays, MRIs, consultations, other tests, medication etc.), place a type of I.V. line you deem necessary, consider your working/differential diagnosis, check and review the results and based on all that choose to admit (and admit how and for what) or discharge the patient.

One thing however, which could improve in future updates is that currently the app does not provide any reference values for tests’ results so it can be difficult at times to readily navigate through all the different numbers, especially for some less common tests – this is particularly so for students or young/less experienced physicians.

Once you’re done and you’ve decided on your final diagnosis and type of admission the app gives you your scores and breaks it all down for your review.

That part I loved the most for it provided such a useful and relevant feed back on what I’ve done well and what I’ve missed and why was all that relevant to the case in point.

In the breakdown you get the correct diagnosis, correct disposition (type of admission), differential diagnoses with explanations on why were these possibly relevant to consider on admission, critical actions that had to be taken and why, bonus actions that would reflect a really thorough thinking and Dr. House style approach, potentially harmful actions if any and why would they be harmful as well as any unnecessary actions you may have performed.

At the end, you receive a short case discussion and you may replay the case, e-mail authors on that case or post your scores online and view comments from other people.

Here you have an app that dissects one’s medical knowledge and points out to potential gaps or areas for improvement while allowing a direct contact with the authors and an exchange with an entire community of practice.
This looks to me as a modern approach to education in medicine, which will certainly see its further evolution as a successful way to provide and share knowledge.

Even if you are not a medical student or a physician you may wish to try this one, just to see the direction new forms of training are headed and try a bit of medical experience yourself.

Yours in health,

Dr. Mo