CAMPS (computer-assisted medical problem-solving), created in 1985 by Dr. William Schwartz, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, Medical School, was introduced at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) as part of the Microbiology and Immunology course in 1988. We developed ten cases in Infectious Diseases that are an integral part of the curriculum.
In a CAMPS case, the students take a history, perform a physical examination, and order laboratory tests based on their preliminary differential diagnosis and then decide about therapy and patient disposition. They are periodically quizzed about their actions. An available feature of the simulations is the possibility to ask the students to write a SOAP note. After entering a diagnosis, they receive their grade (based on templates established by experts) with a detailed analysis of their performance and a faculty-prepared summary. The students’ grades are forwarded to the teaching staff. The student is automatically requested to redo the case if the grade is below a given cut-off. At MUSC, CAMPS have been used in the basic science to add clinical context to medical microbiology. At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Schwartz used CAMPS to train students in the Pediatric rotations, requiring that they would write a new case as part of the rotation requirements.
In the past 5 years, a reprogramming of CAMPS was undertaken to adapt CAMPS to platform-independent Web delivery using PHP as scripting language and MySQL as the database engine. WebCAMPS has been extensively tested on a MacOSX server, but should work equally well on a Windows server and on Linux/Unix servers. Case modification and creation of new cases is extremely easy with the WebCAMPS platform, which may be used for simulation purposes in other areas besides microbiology/immunology.
Student feedback surveys have been very positive about WebCAMPS since its inception. In the fall of 2009, 80% of the students filling the course evaluation agreed with WebCAMPS’ effectiveness.