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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 11, 2006 | Vol. 36 No. 2
Symposium to Look at How 21st-Century Medical Student Learn

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

From virtual microscopy to virtual lectures, the science and dynamics of teaching medicine have made significant leaps in recent years. This week, a School of Medicine event will seek to take stock of this changing classroom landscape.

On Friday, Sept. 15, the offices of Continuing Medical Education, Undergraduate Medical Education and Graduate Medical Education will co-host the inaugural Research in Medical Education Symposium, an all-day event to be held at the Mt. Washington Conference Center.

Todd Dorman, associate dean and director of the Office of Continuing Medical Education, said that the aim of the symposium, hoped to become an annual event, is to encourage and support those doing research in medical education. Dorman said the event will also seek to generate a "taxonomy" of the types of ongoing projects that Johns Hopkins faculty are involved in and to promote further grant-aided research.

"No one has ever assessed what folks are doing in this area," said Dorman, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine. "We also are hoping to build tighter relationships between the offices of Undergraduate Medical Education, Graduate Medical Education and Continuing Medical Education. Ultimately, we hope that an event like this will help Hopkins become a leader in research in [medical] education and help individual faculty be more promotable."

Maurice Hitchcock, director of the Division of Medical Education at the University of Southern California's School of Medicine, will give the symposium's keynote address and run one of the afternoon workshops. Dorman said that Hitchcock, in addition to being a well-known and respected leader in medical education, is a dynamic speaker.

The symposium will also feature a series of workshops and breakout sessions to foster collegiality and collaborative relationships. The topics of the workshops are "Giving Feedback," presented by Randol Barker, professor of internal medicine, and David Kern, associate professor of internal medicine; "Lessons from Quick-Starter Junior Faculty," presented by Hitchcock; "Redefining Classroom Instruction," presented by Harry Goldberg, assistant dean and director of the School of Medicine's Office of Academic Computing; and "Five of the Most Widely Accepted Methods of Qualitative Research in Education," presented by Eunmi Park, an assistant professor of geriatrics.

Goldberg said that advances in technology — such as virtual microscopy and archived lectures available as MP3 downloads — are significantly altering the way medical students learn.

Virtual microscopy, he said, is having a "sea change" on the way histology is taught. "We instituted this last year in the first-year program and are rolling it out this year in the second. The use of traditional microscopes has been significantly reduced," Goldberg said.

Virtual lectures, he said, have "become a staple resource for students as a method of review and occasionally for first exposure to the content." The lectures are available via a hybrid CD-ROM/Internet system that students can access during a class or remotely. A split screen allows students to view animations of complex processes being discussed by the lecturer, type notes and add bookmarks to an electronic notebook. They also can slow down, speed up or replay portions of the lecture as needed.

Goldberg said that in the future the further use of virtual lectures will permit faculty to spend more time in discussion.

To register for the symposium or for more information, contact


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