Hands-On Medical Education: Still a Place for Cadaver Training

 From the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Sometimes technology is at its greatest when it works together with the traditional methods. I like baking from scratch, but I love melting chocolate in the microwave. 

 Despite the huge technological advances in simulators and virtual medical conditions, medical students still benefit from the hands-on experience of cadaver training.

 Two neighboring posters presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology this week suggest that both old and new education methods have their places.

courtesy of flickr user uicahs (creative commons)

 In one study conducted at the University of South Florida in Tampa, a virtual medical education program called “Arthur” was used to teach fourth-year medical students about joint pattern recognition in musculoskeletal disorders. Of 64 students who completed a survey after using the program, 35% said it was helpful for learning joint pattern recognition, 43% found it helpful for learning differential diagnoses of rheumatic diseases, and 20% said it was a handy visual aid. But Arthur isn’t perfect. Almost half (48%) of the surveyed students said that they’d like more explanations for the differential diagnoses, which the researchers promised to add in the next version of the program.

 But there is still value in hands-on training for rheums-to-be. In a study led by researchers from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, 43 second- and third-year medical residents took part in teaching module featuring two sessions with cadavers during a month’s time. Students practiced examining knee and shoulder joints and tried out different approaches to injecting the joints.

courtesy of flickr user The University of Adelaide (creative commons)

Although cadaver training was brief, it seems to have made an impact. All 24 students who responded to surveys after the program reported significantly improved confidence in their knowledge of knee and shoulder anatomy and in their ability to inject and examine the knee and shoulder joints.

–Heidi Splete (@hsplete on twitter)


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