The Medical Educator’s Resource Guide

John R. Cotter, Ph.D.

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With the academic year about to begin shortly, it is a fitting time to check the status of online resources that are to be used on an established course resource page. Do the web pages still exist on the Internet, and if they do, do the hyperlinks for the web pages still work?

Even if a web page still exists, the Internet address or Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for the web page may be different from the one posted or hyperlinked on the resource page. The reason is that as documents are updated the pathway and/or the resource designation for the web page are often changed. If the address has been changed, it is likely that you will be directed to the web page’s new location. If not, first search for the web page by deleting its resource designation. For instance, the hypothetical address should be shortened to . If deleting the resource designation does not work, try shortening the URL to by deleting the pathname and resource designation. After deleting the resource designation and, if necessary, the resource designation and pathname carefully examine the website for the resource page that you want to locate.

The shortened URL may lead you to the resource page and its new Internet address. This tactic does not always work though and in the event the link cannot be found use a search engine to pin down the new URL. If this does not unearth the URL, it may be that the web page is temporally offline or that the web page was removed from the Internet or hidden from view.

The start of a new school year is also an appropriate time to upgrade a course resource page. Consider expanding the depth of coverage by adding websites that touch on topics that are not included in the websites listed on the course’s resource page. Students can be overwhelmed by being given too much to do, so limit the number of sites by posting only those that students identify as useful and actually use; remove websites that students do not use.

Do not overlook websites that contain information that students might find helpful preparing for examinations. In this issue of the Guide you will find anatomy, histology and pathology websites that have sections for self-testing. As I have pointed out before, students enjoy the opportunity to self-test. This is especially true when the questions are comparable to the ones that they are likely to face on examinations.

If you are aware of a website that has the potential for being used by educators and students of the basic sciences, please consider contributing to the Guide. Once published by the journal, the websites and their reviews will be posted in hyperlink form on the JIAMSE website.

Send all submissions to or use the IAMSE web page at . Please include the URL and a short critique of between 100 and 200 words.

Center of Biostructure. Medical University of Warsaw.

The Department of Anatomy at the Medical University of Warsaw, Poland has put together a fine site for those students needing help in radiological anatomy, gross anatomy and neuroanatomy. In the “Atlas of Radiological Anatomy”, you have access to CT and MRI scans of the thorax, abdominal cavity, knee and head. With the CTs especially, it can be tricky to identify small structures but the web developers have alleviated this problem by outlining hard-to-see features. The amount of detail seen in the images is astonishing; structures such as the azygos vein, carina, thoracic duct, crura of the diaphragm and phrenic nerve are identifiable. As you work your way through the cross sectional images from superior to inferior, textbook anatomical relationships become evident. The most incredible part of this site is the “Atlas of Brain”. It illustrates the human brain and cerebral blood vessels with a level of cleanliness that students of anatomy will appreciate. The “Practical Exams” section is a collection of pin examinations that were given over a period of seven years. The specimens, the various ways that they are prepared, the pins and the corresponding list of terms will acquaint students with the set up of laboratory examinations that are intended to test a student’s ability to identify structures of the brain and body. (Reviewed by Bethany Arber, BS, University at Buffalo).

Ian Maddison’s Radiology Website. London South Bank University.

As the name indicates, this website is primarily dedicated to radiographic aspects of human disease. It is a very useful adjunct in learning and teaching pathology to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The site’s high quality images and succinct legends can be used in discussions of disease entities to provide the clinical- radiological-pathological correlations that are always necessary when trying to impress students with the importance of pathology at the undergraduate level. There is the “George Simon Collection” with details on congenital abnormalities and a “Teaching Docs” section that contains a lot of basic information on a variety of topics including digital imaging, pulmonary radiology, disease coding and study methods. The site also contains 324 cases. The cases are organized as “Teaching Cases” according to abnormality and anatomical area and “Unknowns”. There is also a “Pathology Index” with links to cases listed in the index. The site is very easy to use. Users do not have to provide any personal information and do not need the fastest Internet connection to access the site. Pathologist will find this site is useful for discussions of the clinical and radiological aspects of disease processes. (Reviewed by Anurag Saxena, MD, FRCPC, Program Director, General Pathology Residency Training Program, University of Saskatchewan).

Mechanisms of Human Disease. Loyola University Medical Education Network (LUMEN).

Self-assessment case studies are a very nice feature of this site. They are complete with gross and microscopic images and answers, and can be used in TBL or PBL format. A virtual microscopy section, which covers a wide variety of topics important in organ pathology is another valuable feature of this site. Although, if you are planning to project images to a large audience, the images that cover gastroenterology may need to be touched up for better contrast. The best aspect of this website is its completeness; it has Power Point presentations for all the lectures, specific student assignments, self-assessment case studies, lovely radiographic images, and study aids. Some of the areas are password protected or require special software. This site is well thought out, technologically sophisticated, and a wonderful comprehensive student resource. (Reviewed by Darshana Shah, Ph.D., Department of Pathology, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine).

Microanatomy Web Atlas. University of Texas Medical Branch.

When it comes to obtaining a good understanding of histology, the “Microanatomy Web Atlas” is a very useful tool. The organization of the website is impressive – it is comprehensive and contains clear and understandable slides (images) of the tissues and organs. The strength of this site for students is that it can be used when studying for an examination. Under “Histology Topics”, the descriptions and information that are given alongside the slides are helpful because going into a histology examination, in addition to their appearance, it is necessary to understand the dynamics of tissues and organs. Any problem that one might have identifying cells in the blood and connective tissues will be rectified by the distinctions that are made between the different cell types. A “Study Guide” and “Practice Practical Exam” can be used in preparing for tissue examinations. The slides that are used in the “Practice Exams” are large and the morphology of the slides is unmistakable. More importantly, in addition to simply asking for the identity of a structure, there are questions that touch on related facts. Obtaining the answers to these is simplified because the answer is revealed when the cursor passes over the slide. This makes for easier and faster learning. (Reviewed by Joseph Sleilati, BS, University at Buffalo).

Pathology C601/C602 Slides & Laboratory Units. Indiana University School of Medicine.

This is a user-friendly site with multiple options available as adjuncts for the microscope-based laboratory student. Low, medium, high power images with accompanying text pertaining to topics on general and systemic pathology form the backbone of this site. The low power views effectively orient the user to the macroscopic aspects of specimens that are shown at higher magnifications. The digital qualities of the medium and high power images are acceptable for an electronic format. Each study unit under “Slides” concludes with a quiz that relates clinically correlated cases to the relevant pathology of the unit. Some of the material offered, e.g., the cardiac videos, may not be suitable for the designated level of student learning. They will however be of use to more senior students and can be used as refresher course material for teaching of cardiovascular system. One of the most exciting aspects of this website is the availability of interactive clinical cases that have a live audio-video component as well. The video upload is however rather lengthy and time consuming. Despite this drawback, the emphasis on laboratory investigations, results, disease outcomes and treatment plans makes this an extremely valuable tool for the practice of case scenarios. A quiz is available at the end of each case. As the contents of the site are course specific, some sections of this site are password protected. Sample practice exams are available in the multiple-choice format in both general and systemic pathology. These can be used as teaching tools for students and resource material for teachers. The site also provides links to relevant sites of other universities. (Reviewed by Rani Kanthan, MBBS, MS, FRCS, FRCPC, Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan).

PEIR: Pathology Education Instructional Resource. University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The website is quite comprehensive and fulfills many needs of medical students, residents and faculty. Development of the site was supervised by Dr. Peter Anderson. Although some elements of the site are not available to the public such as the “Gripe Digital Library”, sections of the “Learning Materials” and the specific courses for the University, others are accessible: “PEIR Digital Library” image database and the “Web Guides” for “Pathology Residents and Fellows Resources” and the “Medical Education Resource for Instructional Technology”. The “Basic Medical Pathology” series presents lessons in topics applicable predominantly to General Pathology. The learning experience is excellent and includes a pre-test, mini-lecture, study questions module and a post-test. Upon completion and review, the basic principles of disease are presented in an educationally sound approach. Another very useful approach to learning is the case-based section that includes images and basic information from a group of briefly presented cases. The website is well done and is especially useful for General Pathology. It is less useful for the systemic study of disease. The approach is very helpful for those who use the site. (Reviewed by Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, University at Buffalo).

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Pathology Case Database and Case of the Month.

Case-based educational activities provide a rich environment for undergraduate medical education. However, development of suitable cases can be a challenge especially for non-clinical faculty.

Since pathology is a natural bridge between basic and clinical sciences and pathology faculty have direct access to voluminous case materials, this can become a natural resource for shared cases. Interactive case-based learning in an online forum provides opportunities for medical education whereby students may be immersed in clinically-based scenarios at their own time and pace. The Department of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has facilitated this potential by publishing a public access, online case database which features the ability to review cases by patient history or diagnosis and by pathology subspecialty. Cases in anatomic pathology and clinical pathology are added monthly, thereby expanding the database. Documentation of contributing authors, dates of publication, and pertinent references enhance credibility. Each case exhibits a patient history and diagnosis and may be accompanied by laboratory values, references, and thumbnail images (which are too small to be useful at native size but can be enlarged in a new browser window to facilitate viewing). Numerous cases are available covering a broad range of topics, and the case search engine allows easy querying based upon user-specified case criteria and level of case difficulty. The case discussion forum was offline at the time of review but, if functional, would offer an opportunity for users to interact and accentuate their familiarity with particular disease processes. This case databank provides a useful resource for health professions educators to utilize and/or re-purpose for their own specific instructional activities. (Reviewed by Kristina T.C. Panizzi, MAE and Peter G. Anderson, DVM, PhD, Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham).

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