All 20 entries tagged Medical

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May 03, 2010

Twitter for Medical Student Lectures?

Writing about web page

I had a great time at the International Conference on Virtual Patients in London last week. One of the real positives to come out of the web2.0 discussions was how to hear how students can get engaged with elearning technologies. I personally took one idea as being a really helpful one.Twitter in action

The concept of using twitter and the use of hash-tags (like #lecture) to allow students to post up comments on a running board during the process of a teaching session sounded to me really attractive.

I wonder if anyone else is using a similar technique to help teach, and what their experiences have been. It can be a little daunting teaching groups of 150+, and I guess things could get out of hand, but it sounds like quite an engaging thing to get the students to do. I think Ill roll it out the next time I get to teach a few medical students.

There were quite a few other comments from people attending the conference, I hope to put some of them in a more formal form here.

There is also a great clip on YouTube which really summed up the buzz or the vibe that I'd like to create trying to deliver these new things, from a chap from the University of Arizona. It was interesting to hear the opinions of some of his previous peers on his teaching style, he certainly gets my vote for the high quality production and the messages you get from the video.

November 16, 2009

That is the worst drug/ medical device/ MRI scanner.. Can I have one of your cornflakes please?

Writing about web page

I nearly choked on my cornflakes this morning (please don't sue, they were generic cornflakes and the cornflakes were not at fault). This seems to be the order of the day for British libel laws which seem to be putting the UK at the centre of at least one aspect of healthcare.generic cornflakes

The Times writes on 16.11.09:

Scientists and specialists who question medical treatments and alternative therapies are being gagged by firms using Britain’s draconian libel laws.

Researchers who have raised concerns about osteopathy, heart implants and homeopathy have been forced to withdraw or water down scientific papers and websites for fear of being sued.

It seems to me that there is an increasingly fine line between honest criticism of a product, sharing your opinions and an action that can be considered libel in a country where the writer or blogger is not even at fault.

While htis initially has started with celebreties (the Independent reporting here) it now seems that healthcare is fair game too.

In an article that I personally consider deeply worrying, report in more detail about a cardiologist and his dispute following comments made regarding an implantable cardiac device. Whilst people may not agree with any number of medical opinions or research data, does this action then become libellous if a person is giving an honest critique? It gives me concerns for my other blog, given the volume of material that wil end up on there!

Something here has clearly gone very, very wrong.

No cornflakes were harmed during the wiritng of this blog. I do not even like cornflakes. Any suggestion these cornflakes are not british cornflakes will be stringently denied, unless it is proven they are not cornflakes. Cornflakes may be good for your health, they may also be found to be bad for your health. I reccomend only consuming cornflakes after discussion with an appropriate healthcare provider. People who are allergic to corn, flakes, or cornflakes should not eat cornflakes.

November 08, 2009

Medical careers get sexy in the West Midlands….

The BMJ Careers Group and the West Midlands Deanery Lay on the day for trainees

If its not the BMJ Careers group putting  on a glitzy presentation, its another organisation wowing junior doctors up and down the UK with promises of a glittering career in Rheumatology/ genitourinary medicine / some other exciting specility.

Hats off to the deanery who again laid on an excellent careers day for all concerned.

I was pleased to represent my own speciaility at the annual BMA careers evening hosted in Birmingham at the ThinkTank and had a good time chatting to would be medical students and budding practitioners.

Rheumatology was enviously split between the less glamorous specialities of Geriatrics (wHich I think is now termed the more politically correct care of the elderly) and Dermatology. My own efferot on why students should choose rheumatology....

Increasingly each individual speciality is encouraged to wax lyrical about the benefit of studying. In the UK this means recruiting enough (and the best) doctors to your own speciality, something that is becoming increasingly difficult with the perception of an 'easier life' and 'better working conditions' in primary care.

This is something extending into the day to day life of a medical trainee, being required to promote your own speciality, which can only be seen asd a good thing. Expect more fact sheets like the one to the right to be created by trainees up and down the country.

I spoke to one anaesthetics trainee for his view on representing the deanery at the Thinktank:

This can only be good for my CV! I have spoken to quite a few trainees though, and they were all pretty interested, which was nice.

Well it seems that not everyone's intentions was truly alturistic, but as long as the trainees get their advice, who cares?

Anyone who wants to know more about any general medical career in the uk should try heading here to the JCRPTB website at or click the link here.

July 07, 2009

Virtual Patients

Writing about web page

I've been enjoying working with a number of different software packages for virtual patients over the past few

Labrynth is one of a number of educational developments to improve education based on simulated clincal cases

weeks including Labyrinth, vpSim and a number of offerings from a number of organisations.

What I can say is the beauty and speed of whats been evolving really does put these developments into really new areas of research.

The real point is that its not clear exactly how to educate undergraduates, doctors or patients using these forms of software, but  research is now being dedicated towards this area including a European Body eViP, which held the first International Conference dedicated to Virtual patients earlier last month (June 09) in in Krakow.

Numerous e-learning developments are blogged daily by practitioners interested in the Web2.0, and virtual patients really offers the opportunity to practising physicians and educationalists to work together, each generating significant content.

Im looking forward to developing some elearning content here at Warwick for undergraduates. But how is this actually done? A diagram below (created using vpSim from the University of Pittsburgh) will help to explain things. Depending on which system is in use, a series of interconnecting pathways with options for questions/ interventions and branches along with multimedia gives students the opportunity to work their way through different clinical cases.

An example of the pathway followed when creating a vritual patient case

Each of the nodes contains detailed clinical information as well as patient resources.


Obviously there are a number of concerns that go along with generating such content. material published on the world wide web can be copied and is difficult to withdraw once consent for publication has been given. Fortunately detailed consent forms and information given to patients whose clinical images may be used in such cases helps minimise the impact of such problems.


hopefully the open access nature of the Web 2.0 revolution, the creative commons licence and other initiatives will bring virtual patients to an international audience and overall improve the quality of patient care. Important research questions remain to be asked about how these tools can be used to teach doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other allied health care workers.

For more information on eViP, watch a video, from them, embedded below.

June 03, 2009

Powerpoint to Flash which is SCORM Compatible?

Spending the last year working on a number of different elearning projects along with the up keep of a large VLE with >2000 registered users has been complex. The most frustrating aspect of elearning is the difficulty in transferring presented material from a common presentation format used by most teachers (in my experience, PowerPoint) to a web based environment.

Searching the web as I did for "PowerPoint to flash" seemed to be the answer, with the 'flash' platform being well used.


After using a couple of commercial products as a trial, we have come round to using the Ispring model. this allows the user to create a PowerPoint to flash file at the click of a button. without being an expert in IT, this seems to offer the perfect answer, with simple menu driven functions for zip file/ different presentation flash styles, presenters, layers and other models.Ispring

SCORM-Taking things a step further

Being interested in elearning research, what about patterns of use when you're using these sorts of things? SCORM (I believe developed by the US military) seems to be the solution. I gather Ispring now have a tool which is SOCRM friendly to allow users to analyse how students have performed suring custom designed quiz packages.

We're yet to try this version, but it seems to offer a simple solution to a difficult problem.

HTML- you will...

Its still unfortunate that without a simple grasp of HTML, you will still not be able to utilise flash from different sources, no matter how good the software is at creating it. However with the embedded codes that are standard, this isn't too much of a problem.

Problem Solved?

All our problems solved?Maybe maybe not. Anecdotally we have had reports that bits of our flash (not generated through Ispring) do not play on peoples Iphones. This is a disappointment.

We'd like to use the SCORM content with Moodle to try it out.

Overall we give Ispring a 5/5 rating. I hope to put their software to the test further having already presented it at the British Society of Rheumatology.

An example of the free hosting that comes with slideboom (handy if you're using a mega file with video and your university webspace is running low)-a site a bit like youtube for flash- can be seen below. This is the ultra basic, free trial version of Ispring. I intend to publish the more complex players on the blog shortly.

May 05, 2009

"Dr Death" Visits the UK: Weighing up his 'right to speak'

We often get to pass judgement on others based on short stories in the media. Consider the news today. A doctor from Australia has been lecturing today on assisted suicide in Bournemouth, England.  I thought I'd utilise my simple ABCDE approach of ethics and see where my own morals lie in the case, as presented to me by the media in various guises on the way home from work today.

Consider the reporting of Dr Paul Nitschke's arrival in the United Kingdom today. My own perspectives from the media taken from an interview on BBC radio 4 was as follows.

  • He's a doctor (but what sort?- internal medicine? anaesthetics? Doctor of music?)
  • He's here speaking in the UK on assisted suicide (which remains illegal in the United Kingdom)
  • He's an eloquent speaker
  • On the surface the arguments he puts forward seem to be rational with an explanation
  • He was detained by the UK immigration authorities and then released.
  • He apparently appraises forms of assisted suicide, and provides information on them to members of the public
  • He has been much criticised
  • He presents the activities he's undertaking in the UK as legal

I know nothing more of the man other than from this brief summary. So can I still apply the ethics? Yes, as I in common with other people will initially form an opinion  based on the available evidence


B= Beneficence

C= Consent/ Confidentiality

D= Do no harm

E= Equality

Based on my assessment of the media on his arrival I asked myself two questions. In my opinion

  1. Should he be refused entry to the UK?
  2. Should he be allowed to lecture in the UK?



Consent/ Confidentiality

Do No Harm


Should he have been refused entry to the UK




No (Possibly)


Should he be allowed to lecture to the general public in the UK


No (possibly)


No (possibly)


This argument could be replayed with any number of questions. Look at the issues in bold, which I consider up for debate on the web.

Entry to the UK: I don't think this should be refused based on his opinions from the interview however this depends and is inextricably linked to my second question. This therefore becomes a bit of a 'cop out' however it reveals that this is not the central issue. This is made clear when Nitschke himself who said on the BBC:

In terms of keeping your borders closed so we can have a free and open debate thats a bit of an oxymoron

Conclusion: I think he should be allowed to enter the UK based on the evidence I've heard.

To take the second point, should he be allowed to lecture: the fact that this is such a sensitive and emotive medical, psychological and social issue, the best way forward is probably not to have an unregulated speaker who may (unintentionally) have an adverse effect on a patient or individuals decision to harm himself without due cause.

But... Will we be having the debate if he doesn't first begin to make a stand? Possibly, but not I think probably. It certainly is a topic which needs discussion, but the ethical arguments are in this instance a minefield. So on the grounds of beneficence and Do no harm, my opinion from the basis of what I have heard is that he should not be allowed to lecture to the general public in the UK.

Now the research: Searching the web this evening brings me to a number of links.

  • Sky news covering the story along with other various media outlets (The Times, The Independent to name a few).The BBC also covers the story and an audio interview can be heard online here.

I think I'll let you draw you're own conclusions, but I'd be more interested to hear people's views on these sorts of ethical issues that get discussed in a 3 minute slot on the radio. Please post comments if you

  1. disagree with the above
  2. have any thoughts on a simple one minute ethical approach like the one above
  3. have strong opinions on anything thats discussed here.

Remember this is the viewpoint on discussing a persons right to speak based on a media interview, nothing more.

April 15, 2009

Teaching the Teachers?: US vs the UK (andTwitter? )

I'm set to interview medical students from the US and the UK to try and identify differences in attitudes, beliefs and assessment systems from perspectives from each side of the Atlantic.

Im quite excited about htis for a number of reasons. It will hopefully back up research that I'm currently carrying out at warwick into the attitudes of medical students to teaching the teachers. This is run from a site I've set up specifically  for NHS research. This study (foillowing ethical approval) is ongoing.

Although we have >1000 registered students to my sister medical education site, the majority are from the UK. More importantly, the first US based student to be interviewed does not come from this fraternity, but in fact via my twitter page , after following my comments on medical education there.

There's been alot of discussion on Twitter on the WB site from a number of different perspectives, I think this is where it really gets interesting. No sign of linkedin here!

I have a reason to be a fan of international medical students, as I owe a lot of the success of Medical Educator to the free, unsolicited assistance of a number fo the Web2.0 personalities.

I really am a fan of Twitter and have made some useful acquaintances from Finland, Bulgaria, and the US, probably most importantly Berci Mesco, who runs a blog (google page rank of 7/10, which is on a par with some universities (Warwicks intranet page rank is currently 7/10) about medical education and has featured in  Nature Medicine and a number of other high profile interviews (mine not included). As a 'friend' i cite him for a major exposure of our own site- having featured us for no reason.

If any medical students would like to feature in the article (from Warwick or other universities in the UK or Europe), please email me at

Dies anyone else feel that theres any point in doing this, or is it just me? Id love to survey medical student's in the US with the same questions, and I believe the best chance of finding a contact in the US is either through Twitter, or my blog here.

March 22, 2009

Google street view comes to Warwick?

IMagine my surprise when I found out that no, my parents street is not on google streetview and no, neither is Warwick Medical School.


I wasn't surprised to hear the reports on BBC about infringement of peoples privacy, e.g. being snapped coming out of a sex shop in Soho probably wouldn't go down too well.

Nevertheless, plaudits to Google for having the balls for coming up with such a comprehensive package.

And how many advertisers are fitted onto the main page?

Count them

1. Tate

2. Fancy a pint? (encouraging underage drinking?)

3. Visit Britain ( fair enough)

4. Mayor of London (Boris do you have nothing better to spent the capitals hard earned cash on? Better save some for Barclay's)

5. Find a Property (I guess they need all the help they can get in these times, maybe they should ask Boris)

Wait till they come to Warwick...

March 17, 2009

Streaming video for your website: practical points

I run a Website through a web hosting company which is said to offer "unlimited bandwidth". The bottom line is however that this essentially is meaningless! To host large medical examination videos (i.e. 80megabytes plus) without a dedicated server to 750 plus users is virtually impossible.

Having now negotiated new hosting, our customers will  hopefully be much happier, however it does seem to be a bit misleading as a non IT professional when you look at whats on offer from some hosting firms. However, apart from the download issue, our hosting providers have been first class, and initially ewe did not specifically ask about video hosting.

Not withstanding our wonderful VLE (see Robert OToole's site for his perspectives!), having high quality video material is essential.

You can watch a video here, which was that was first hosted on YouTube.

Now our speeds are pretty similar to that found on YouTube.

My Masters in Medical Education is continuing apace and I hope to be able to accredit some of the experiential learning from the site towards my future qualifications.

At the site, on the quesitons and videos and also on our blog our videos now run quite seamlessly. Hopefully when we encourage feedback from our use base, we'll be able to concentrate more on the content than providing a high quality service.

If you have any comments I'd love to hear them.

February 19, 2009

Do UK medical Schools have a problem with Racism?

The Telegraph are today reporting on the story that Virginia Jibowu,  a medical student from Kings College London was subject to racist bullying. They have reported the following on their website.

Virginia Jibowu claims she was ostracised by students in an "institutionally racist" environment at London's King's College medical school.

The 25-year-old alleges that fellow students refused to shop, eat or share a shower-room with her in their accommodation.

The issue looks set to run into the courts. I hope to poll medical students on their thoughts on the issue at my sister site Medical Educator.

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