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Education

Organizers Plan Online Medical School 170

Posted by michael
from the patient-died-you-must-reload-a-saved-game dept.
slashdot_commentator writes "Job has you down? Thinking of starting a second career? How about finally getting that medical degree you've been putting off? A group of more than 50 schools in 16 countries are working to create an online medical school, in part to combat the "brain drain" that occurs when medical students go abroad for their education but do not return later. ... Organizers said that because degrees would be granted by individual participating schools, all of which are accredited, students should not have to worry about accreditation problems."
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Organizers Plan Online Medical School

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  • "Hi, everybody! I am Dr. Nick!" Not really, but he did/does say this:

    "No one is too smart that they have to go to med school in the Carribean or for that matter on the internet."

    Which raises some interesting questions about board certification if you ask me.
  • by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:52PM (#4428313) Journal
    I can just see it now - people get the symptoms, then tab over to google and make a lightning-fast diagnosis.

    The idea,s a bit sick (pun intended)

  • Been Done (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mwalker (66677) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:52PM (#4428318) Homepage
    As I recall, right in the middle of the dot-com boom Microsoft started an online, collaborative center for Medical education by buying out a bunch of sites. It was called the "MSN Healing Zone" and didn't last for very long...

    • I wouldn't assume that any endeavor would fail just because MS has botched it in the past.

      -jcr
    • Re:Been Done (Score:2, Insightful)

      Oh ya, the Healing Zone. As I recall when that started to lose cash, Microsoft totally burn-bagged it, shut the whole thing down, sold the domain name, sent everybody home... nothing left but Aeron chairs and flourescent lights in under a week. Truly an American story.
  • Good idea, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alen (225700) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:53PM (#4428321)
    University of Phoenix along with a few other schools already have online programs for undergrad and graduate degrees.



    The classroom part of this can be done online. But what about the labs and the on the job training? Many hospitals are teaching hospitals where the medical students work alongside doctors.

    • Re:Good idea, but... (Score:3, Informative)

      by cloudmaster (10662)
      Hooray for moderating questions that are plainly answered in the article as "insightful". The moderator(s) and poster *both* neglected to read it. Sigh.

      For the benefit of all the other readers who *also* won't read it... :)

      The program initially is set up with about 70% online learning and about 30% clinical experience. That clinical time is spent at a hospital or participating school. After the first couple of years, the emphasis shifts to clinical study, with 70% of the time now being spent in clinical rotations and 30% online learning.

      Oh, on a side note, Franklin university has some very nice online programs that are real, regionally accredited programs. I'm finishing my last CS course there while I work full-time, and have generally been pleased with the system in comparison to the other schools I'd previously attended. http://alliance.franklin.edu/ for info.
  • Dr. Nic (Score:4, Funny)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wroughtNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:53PM (#4428328) Homepage Journal
    "Did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical School too?"
  • by lobos (88359) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:53PM (#4428329)
    I'm so excited to have you as a patient. I never had to cut anything open in med school and this is my first chance!
  • Bad idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:54PM (#4428332) Journal
    Online schools deprive you of needed experience and interaction -- and that's particularly bad for the field of medicine, which requires LOTS of hands-on experience. Even worse than cassette tape courses at colleges, online degrees in general are a joke that the vast, vast majority of people flunk out of or quit.

    The idea is a total waste of money -- there is no way that the brain drain will stop until for-profit Healthcare corporations quit hiring so many H1B doctors for wages that are much lower than doctors here yet are still higher than those in the third world; that goes for just about every other erudite profession, as well.
    • Re:Bad idea (Score:4, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:03PM (#4428384) Journal
      Online schools deprive you of needed experience and interaction

      Pssst, Bob! I accedently screwed up really big on a patient, but she does not respond to the reboot command. How do I start over?
    • Re:Bad idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frank of Earth (126705) <frank AT fperkins DOT com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:20PM (#4428479) Homepage Journal
      Did you even read the article?

      During the first two years of the curriculum, about 70 percent of the students' time would be taken up by distance learning, and the remainder by working in a community setting like a clinic or hospital. After that, the proportions would shift to about 30 percent computer-based learning and 70 percent working in a practice setting.

      I don't know what's worse, the post or the idiots that modded it up.
      • Why ask? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mekkab (133181)
        When you know the answer is "NO"!

        The inevitable answer is that this will open up the medical degree experience for many- some will do nothing with it and some will flourish and become star doctors.

        Bringing up an idea without any research or (even better) empirical results on slashdot is giving the professional naysayers far too much grist for the mill.

        I'm sure if you said "What if we started a global network! And have it initially funded by the government..." on the 1950's version of slashdot all those schmucks would have said "What, and call it the internet? hah! It'll never work!"
      • heh

        Listen, that didn't get modded up for its content... Have another look at the nick and then follow the link beside it pointing to a jpg...

        A classic case of (alleged) form over function :)
      • I think you have confused reading an article (talking the talk) with actual life experience (walking the walk). I agree with the post. Real life experience suggests to me that on-line education requires a commitment and self-discipline that is exceedingly higher than those found in full-time time programs. Working full-time while doing on-line education requires a real passion for either the subject or success. In my experience, most of those that do succeed in on-line education are very positive, motivated people. A real "cut-above" unlike folk that get a kick out of negative posts that only seem designed to boost the ego of the poster.

        (whatever)
    • Was your post inteded to as a troll ?

      "Online schools deprive you of needed experience and interaction"

      Most online or distance education courses ive seen have a mandatory block period where physical attendance is required to complete prac's

      "The idea is a total waste of money"

      The cost of attending and running an online course should be (havent seen figures) a small fraction of the cost of traditional uni's.

      A traditional uni has heaps of people turn up to lectures to watch and listen to some old guy read a few pages out of a text book.
      Reading is a pre-requisit to entry to university, WTF cant students read the textbook by themselves, and why cant they read it via a web browser.

      Comminications is essential to learning, but you only need it when you need assistance... thats what tutorial sessions are for, no reason they cant be done over the net.

      University should be about learning, not just a factory that takes a raw material (people) and prepares them (as graduates) for consumption by industry.

    • Re:Bad idea (Score:3, Insightful)

      by puck01 (207782)
      I think most people are missing the point. First, if you read the article, you'd know that the plan is for students to learn 'book work' and lecture material online, but to work in local hospitals and clinics to gain experience.

      The thing most people people seem to be missing is, this isn't designed for developed western countries. The idea is for underdeveopled contries with a lack of well educated health care professionals. One major goal of this program is to keep talented young minds in their own country. The idea is, if they learn there, they will be more likely to stay there. This is a real problem for many counties. As a med student in the US i come across a number of foreign medical students and residents that are training here in the US. Not a single one of them has any intention of returning home once they've completed training.

      Now I'm not saying this plan is without flaws. I'm not sure the training would be adequate, at least compared to that in the US. However, I could see how in some regards their on the job training could be superior than that in the US. Without all the lawyers to deal with, doctors in their counties would probably be more willing to let students do procedures.

      In any case, if the organizers can develope a feasible method to track how much experience their students get, this could be great for underserved nations.

      puck
    • While its a potential problem to doctors, they are not quite as vulnerable to H1B as IT workers. Most states have grueling certification requirements (called state boards) that will weed out the less qualified. Also, I recall there are a few more hoops the H1B doctor has to hop through in order to practice in this country. You can thank the AMA for that; something which the IT industry desperately needs for its workers.
  • Just don't let it turn into another University of Phoenix...
    • Curious, what's wrong with UoP? I have a couple of friends who are considering it as a way to complete their degree while working. I've considered it, too, but never seem to find the time.
      • by apropos (12176)
        There's nothing wrong with the University of Phoenix that isn't wrong with other schools. The only folks who hate it are those who tried and failed. I've done both traditional college (for 3 yrs) and UoP, and I'll take UoP any day.

        I learned more and I was challenged a hell of a lot more. At UoP I actually learned to communicate with people (horror of horrors!). After all, a good part of your grade depends on how well you can communicate and work with a learning team.

        After nearly two years of writing around 6 or 7 papers every five weeks, I find myself panicking and looking around for material to research and write a paper on. Blog time! Yes, somehow open source, Buddhism and B-school can make for a blog - at least it's not the strangest one out there.

        Some folks just can't hack that. And BTW - I made it through my entire Bachelor's degree without ever firing up any of the MS Office suite. I used Open Office all the way, even back when it was still fairly beta. Their #$!$ website works only with IE though. They know me by name on their complaint line by now.

        My favorite part was in statistics because of the Math thingy in OOo. I could make those formulas look absolutely beautiful.

        Well, there *was* MS Project... but I did do a presentation on sourceforge during that class just to make myself feel better. I sold it as "the future of collaborative project management". I got extra points. :-)

  • I wonder if they'll have a problem convincing local hospitals and medical centers to let students who learned all they know online work for them. It might work, and well, but I can forsee a lot of resistance to this at first.
  • No way... (Score:2, Funny)

    by SoCalChris (573049)
    Not a chance that I would go see a doctor who got their degree online.
    • Re:No way... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pahroza (24427)
      And how are you going to know ? Do you ask every doctor you've ever seen where they got their doctorate ? I don't know many people that do, or even question their doctor's ability. I've been to a few that I wouldn't go back to, but not because I doubted their ability, rather that I didn't feel they were 'right' for me. if someone is good at bullshitting they'll get their doctorate one way or another. Just because someone went to an online school doesn't make them worse than someone who managed to make their way through med school with their only motivation being financial gain.
      • by SoCalChris (573049)
        Every doctor I've gone to has his diploma hanging on the wall. If his diploma even resembles a printout of a web page, I'm outta there! :)
  • operation (Score:5, Funny)

    by rc27 (601744) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:58PM (#4428355)
    For gross anatomy, everyone will be mailed their own copy of the Operation! board game. These guys will be very good at diagnosing and fixing charlie horses and wrenched knees.
    • by pulski (126566)
      For the cost of medical school, they had better at least include the batteries and maybe a spare rubber band.
    • I'm an Othopaedic surg resident. Some of the residency interviews have a manual skills section where they've used the operation board game, or have guys(not too many women in ortho!) build weird little models with the erector sets in insanely short times.
      A lot of dental schools also have a manual skills section of the interview - getting to those out of the way places in the back of the mouth takes some fine dexterity....
      Anyway Orthopedics is a lot of fun we get to play with cool power tools and build weird erector set like models like these [ortho-u.net]
  • Hmmm.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @05:58PM (#4428357) Journal
    Mental image pops to mind:
    The scene: A tense operating room. The patient lies on the table, cut open from stem to stern. The nurses watch intently as the doctor begins to cut...

    Doctor: Now, lesse, I just snip this here and... -=gush spout pour=- whoops! It never did that before!
    Nurse: Doctor! You've severed the artery! Quickly, do something!
    Doctor: No, no, it's no problem. Just hit F5 for me, would you?
    Nurse: ??!??
    Doctor: Now, someone else open me up a new window so I can check the online medical help, and we'll be just fine.
    Nurse: &%*#%^!^@#!!!
    Patient: Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

    C'est fin.

  • Medical School is a great deal like Law School - memorization and understanding of the relevent background material. People who are saying "they don't get hands on live patients" misunderstand what medschool *IS*.

    Only after medschool, when you are an intern, do you get to work with patients, and only with the supervision of a resident. No character on ER (except for some one-episode people who are trying to figure out what rotation to join) are med students. Rather, they are all interns or residents.

    I hope this helps in your evaluation of the feasability of this program (MHO - somewhat feasable, but may lack hands-on cadaver work.)
    • This isn't true. I just spent the last 5 years watching my wife and all her friends go from taking the MCATs to becoming interns. First year is alot of studying, but you do the whole cadavar thing. But in first year, and even more so in second year, you learn the physical exam and patient interviewing. They do rotations all 3rd and 4th year, including doing a sub-internship as a 4th year where yes, you are even playing the role of an intern. And BTW - there are med students on ER, though no longer including Lucy since she departed the show the hard way.
      • While you and several others brought up the relavant point that there *is* (and *must* be) hands on training in medical school, you seem to have fallen into the tv trap:

        ER the tv show is NOT representative of an actual ER. How do I know this? First off, it's tv = sensationalism/drama/keep viewers interested. Second, I've done a fair amount of volunteering in hospitals (on my way to getting into medical school).

        If you take a look at the MSAR(Medical school admissions requirements book: the bible for applicants) you can read the 4 yr curriculum of any medical school.
    • by Bowling Moses (591924) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:12PM (#4428435) Journal
      I disagree. I have a friend who is starting out at med school, and the very first week they had her and her classmates assigned to a doctor to accompany him/her on their rounds and to get them started up taking blood pressure, reading charts, real basic stuff. What they were *really* supposed to be learning was how to act around patients with tact and confidence. Lets face it; if the Dr. acts like a schmuck when you come in for whatever, you're not going to trust them. Also, like you mentioned there is nothing quite like working on a cadaver--when I was an undergrad I had to dissect quite a few organisms to understand physiology and the computer simulations while good are not as good as the real thing. Plus if you're working on a cadaver, it hammers home that you're going to be working on *people* like no computer simulation ever could. As for the wrote memorization biochemistry for med students or whatnot, I don't know about you but my lecture/memorization courses were *always* accompanied by labs to help you understand the material in context. These online degrees are generally inferior and I sure as hell don't want my doctor to have been "educated" in one.
    • by BWJones (18351) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:13PM (#4428438) Homepage Journal
      Actually, as one who completed the first two years of medical school and then progressed to a Ph.D. program (don't know if I will go back), I can tell you that there is a tremendous amount of first hand experience that needs to occur and cannot be duplicated in a virtual environment. Many schools are now starting to integrate some pateint exposure to medical students in the first two years for instance. As for other "tangible" experiences, I only have to cite gross anatomy. This class absolutely must be taken by medical students and there is no virtual substitute for actually physically taking a body apart and learning where cavities are and how things fit together. For instance, where does blood pool when you have an internal bleed? How do the sinuses in the head relate to other structures? etc...etc...etc... This is possible to learn from an "academic" sense, but honestly, there is no substitute. Additionally, most gross anatomy classes are the first opportunity medical students get to touch bodies, and believe it or not, respect for the human body, and the sacrifice the donors made is something else that is an important experience.

      As for the intern bit, yes, most physicians learn most from the first post graduate year, but you ABSOLUTELY do touch patients before your internship. You get to intubate, learn how to ascultate heart and breath sounds, interview patients assist with surgeries, set broken bones, suture wounds etc...etc...etc... all in your third and fourth years of medical school. Typically under the supervision of attending and senior residents of course.

      I would be truly scared of anyone who did not have that experience before starting an intership and residency.

    • I don't know how things are in the States, but in South Africa, med students start learning anatomy (on cadavers) and some surgery from the second year of the six year program. Yes, there is a lot of cramming to do, but at least from my experience, there is a ton of hands-on stuff that gets done as well.
    • Wrong. After your comment about the show ER, I suspect a troll, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

      I am in my 4th year of medical school. Yes, the first two years is mostly book work that involves memorization and the introduction of a number of concepts. Even then, however, clinical experience is intergrated into lectures.

      After that, medical school turns into mostly working on the floors and with your own patients. For example, I just worked in a real ER. I saw my own patients, made a differential, ordered labs, and did my own procedures. Of course, this was all done under the supervision of an attending physician.

      I've also done a sub-internship on the floors, where again I have my own patients, write my own orders and do most of the work...with supervision.

      Currently, I'm in the intensive care unit. Same drill. My entire 3rd years was much like this. What you are saying is emphatically not true. Now, not all hospitals that have residents also have medical students because the hospital may not have a medical school afficliated with them. Perhaps this is the cause of your misunderstanding.

      As long as this virtual program can guarentee the type of experience we get in a real medical school, then I say go for it. This is a big 'IF' however.

      puck
    • Not actually true. All AAMC accredited med schools require hands-on clinical patient contact for 3rd and 4th years, most schools introduce it in the 2nd year, and a good number even start in 1st year. 3rd and 4th year are when you do your clerkships (more commonly called "rotations")--the scope of your responsibilities tend to depend on the site you're at. It can be as inane as simply following a resident physician around, or it can be as demanding as actually completely managing the patient, requiring an attending physician only to sign the prescriptions and the chart.

      Right now I am doing my Emergency Medicine rotation at Cook County Hospital right now (which serves as the facade for E.R. the show; the insides are radically different to say the least) and while all the people in white coats may be performing like physicians, a good number of us are just 3rd and 4th year med students.

      To actually become a physician requires a lot more than just reading out of books. For one thing, a good chunk of what you need to know isn't even written in books yet--some things only exist in the minds of clinicians, and for another thing, as many of my preceptors are wont to say, patients don't really read the textbooks, and for another thing there's no way to learn procedures without actually doing them.
    • There are several curriculum structures in place for US medical schools (can't speak to the ones outside the US). Most schools subscribe to the traditional path where basic sciences are taught in the first two years, and clinical medicine in the last two years.

      There is a less-common curriculum where clinical medicine is mixed in all along the way, with no division between basic science and clinical. I don't think anyone has demonstrated the superiority of one path over another... but I digress.

      Becoming a doctor is much, much more than just taking in the material (which, BTW, is so vast that doctors specialize to be deeply educated about one thing, rather than superficially knowlegable about many things).

      There is a process by which one BECOMES a doctor, far more than just the facts. There is a medical community, philosophy, a work ethic, a merciless (and pathological) schedule, and a whole way of interacting with other people and the world. It is difficult to explain, and you don't see the change while you are going through it. It's only in looking back that you can appreciate the changes that a career in medicine imposes.

      This curriculum might work... but ONLY for a few of the basic sciences. Another poster already made the point... you MUST have hands-on... The wacky "no cadaver/no animal lab" people are fooling themselves... there is NO substitute for using your hands. Think I'm full of it? ask any surgeon. Mechanical skills are learned by doing, not by looking at a screen (try learing to type while never touching a keyboard).
  • The goal is to counteract the "brain drain" of students from developing countries who, having left to pursue a medical education, often don't return.

    The key here is the developing countries bit. Is that Ethiopian kid gonna log into AOHell and get his doctorate? I think not.

  • by rossz (67331) <ogre@geek b i k e r.net> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:01PM (#4428372) Homepage Journal
    Just say you are studying to become a gynecologist.
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:15PM (#4428455) Journal
      Excuse for porn: Just say you are studying to become a gynecologist.

      Can't wait to see your face when they assign you to where the biggest demand is: Geriatric Gynecology.
    • Because after seeing STIs, uterine tissues, botched abortions, prolapsed uteri, fistulae, dumb knocked-up chicks of all variations and tubal ligations all day, you'll be SO GLAD to get home and whack off to some normal girlies.

      Right? Hahaha.

    • At my old university, the med students take a subject in first year called "human sexuality" or some such, and, as part of such, there's a screening of a film just to make sure that the students have some idea of what they're talking about.

      Funnily enough, each year that particular lecture is filled to capacity with people who dress and sound a lot more like engineers than med students :)

  • IANAD, but I'm married to one. And having seen her go through Harvard Med, all I can say is that what she learned that was bookish or memorized was only a small part of her education. And I don't mean things as obvious as surgery, which you really don't learn as a med student anyway. Here is a short list of things you don't learn studying a screen: clinical judgement, the physical exam (how does a healthy liver feel?), reading films and slides, not to mention patient interaction in order to get as close-to-accurate info as possible. Pretty quick in med school, you start working wiht patients, and just getting comfortable and good at the interview, exam, and writing a good note about it is not easy.
    If you can put it online to learn it, you can also go online to look it up. I want a doctor who has the skills, perceptions, and judgement you get by doing.
  • by Snafoo (38566) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:04PM (#4428388) Homepage
    As a net.admin forced to spend most of his time with windoze boxen, I'd be tempted to simply power-cycle the patients. Is this correct medical procedure?

    Oh wait: it [pbs.org] is [nitcentral.com]

    • He had an irregular heartbeat and their solution was to stop his heart, then use a defribulator to kick him back into gear. (It worked)

      Scary. I can't imagine being the first patient to volunteer for that one.
      • They completely stop the heart of anyone who's getting bypass surgery. A little hard to work on something that's not only a moving target, but squirting at you when you attempt to connect the bypass if it were still beating.
  • Halfway there. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shook (75517) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:08PM (#4428409)
    Whether it scares you or not, my medical school can be mostly attended online, as well.

    All the lectures are recorded in RealAudio, and most of the lecturers show slides in PowerPoint (available for download). The ones that use standard overheads put the handouts in our mailboxes. The students pool together to make transcripts of the lectures, which are very high quality. Tests are online.

    The upshot of this is about half of the class rarely attends lectures. Some students NEVER attend the lectures, live 2 hours away, and drive in once a week for the clinical stuff in the hospitals. Just today, a review lecture had an attendance of 14 people out of 160. (I was there because I had to record the RealAudio)

    This is just for the first two "basic science" years. Years 3 and 4 are in the hospital wards, getting hands-on experience. Obviously, that can't be done over the web.

    I've found that in med school, there is more of an attitude that the students are in charge, and an acknowledgement that people learn in different ways. The faculty will generally go out of their way to make sure you can get all the material. The students are motivated enough to learn on their own. If they learn best by skipping class, the faculty is OK with this.
    • Re:Halfway there. (Score:3, Informative)

      by aswang (92825)
      Heh, maybe this ultimately proves that the basic sciences aren't as useful as clinical, hands-on experience. While my med school is the same--I have plenty of classmates who never went to lecture their M1 and M2 years--you can fail an entire rotation by just missing one day at the hospital or clinic unless you have a really, really good reason.
    • I agree with you ... I help teach part of med school basic science and the course leader says that he thinks that the students are "wasting their time" sitting in on lectures, figuring that they could master the material on their own in a much more efficient way.
    • If they learn best by skipping class, the faculty is OK with this.

      Whenever i skipped class we'd do something interesting with computers in the dorms (or smoke pot and drink beer. Or both. (As in drink and code, not both pot and beer ;-) ))

      Better than attending class and learning stuff I already knew like "What is a variable". There should be an aptitude test, but colleges just want your $$$. :-\
  • by artemis67 (93453) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:10PM (#4428418)
    Act now, and we'll mail you a cadaver -- FREE -- with your enrollment!
  • by ThundaGaiden (615019) <reaper66@hotmail.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:11PM (#4428429)
    Really cool scheme very much like the paperless college ideas that have been floating around

    I don't think that the idea is to let more people study medecine , more along the lines of everyone who is studing it and will be studying it, will be using the same resources

    ie. I'm studing in Athens and decide to move to London to study then I'll be using the same material as long as I go to a university that is part of the group and I would have to worry about having used diff. text books and such

    Standardisation

    Oh well that's just my take
    • Standardisation

      But is Standardization really a good thing. Isn't product differentiation what different schools are supposed to be about. You'll see curricula based largely upon a critical board-type exam, but aside from that.. that's where the interests (and perhaps the quality) of the professor come into play.

      If you think about what you're really paying for at a prestigious university (not why people enroll, but the cost), a large part of it is the research (subsidized by taxpayers of course). So, naturally, a professor at the forefront of a field (at least in his own mind) will usually have you use his book and teach the class differently than someone who doesn't do active research in that area (or at all).

    • I'm studing in Athens and decide to move to London to study then I'll be using the same material as long as I go to a university that is part of the group and I would have to worry about having used diff. text books and such
      When universities first got started in Europe in the Middle Ages, they worked a lot like this. They were standardized on the same language (Latin), and basically used the same books (Greek and Latin texts). The lecture format for instruction also dates back to medieval European universities: because books were rare (since they were all scribed by hand), teachers would read them out loud to students. Despite the fact that books are widely available (thank you, Mr. Gutenberg!), the lecture format lives on today, and some professors still read from the textbooks verbatim...

      If you're interested in the history of higher education, as I am, you can read about it in greater detail in Samuel Eliot Morison's The Founding of Harvard College.
  • I'll sign up - just for the interesting conversations with the FEDEX driver then they deliver the cadaver to my home every few months...

    "You know there is a dead body in here, right?"
  • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:15PM (#4428452) Journal
    "Brings a whole new meaning to "Blue Screen of Death", no?

    Great, that's all I need; my doctor slips up while I'm on the operating table and he spends the next 5 minutes making motions with his hand as if to hit the "back" button on a web browser.

    me: "Something wrong, Doc?"
    doctor: "No.. at least... I don't think so. It's just that I've never seen a real live patient before; at least not I. R. L."

    "Damn, nurse... brain surgery is sooo much easier when you can use two hands!"

    nurse: "Doctor! Doctor! Have you ever had experience with this kind of disease?!
    doctor: "Of course I have! Level 34, just before I grabbed the RailGun."

    wife: "Doctor, is my husband... going to die?"
    doctor: "Nah, if it gets too bad, I'll just pull the plug on the router and it'll look like we lost the connection. Then I'll try again."
    *doctor smiles while the wife wonders what the hell he's talking about*

  • by strictnein (318940) <strictfoo-slashdot&yahoo,com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:17PM (#4428464) Homepage Journal
    I've been using Microsoft Flight Sim since it first came out!

    That makes me a pilot!
  • Is it just me, or could someone who knows what he's doing cheat on tests, or whatever there using online? Even if it wasn't altering the scores, it probably wouldn't be that hard to give yourself extra time on a timed test/exam.
  • Costly (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frank of Earth (126705) <frank AT fperkins DOT com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:18PM (#4428468) Homepage Journal
    Initial financing for the project, amounting to $140,000, came from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

    $24,917 * 7 = ~175k

    Which, ironically, is about the cost of the tuition for the 7 years of med school for only one student. If they get two students, they will already be doubling their money ;-)

    HowTo become a doctor [howstuffworks.com]
  • I've tried this.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Crocuta (556505) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:19PM (#4428471)
    I've taken two courses online in the past couple of years. Both were pretty miserable.

    The general way an online course works is through the extensive use of message boards which allow the students to interact with each other. Real time chat and whiteboard software are also used. Supporters claim that the experience equals that of a real classroom, but my first hand experience is that it does not. Several days ago, I was discussing online classes with a former instructor of mine. His wife teaches some online courses and she contends that her online students are getting perhaps 60% of the education they could receive in a physical classroom - and this is from an instructor who in my experience truly cares about her students.

    The first course I took was Intro to Philosophy. The instructor would post a weekly lecture and assign all the typical reading required in a Phil 100 class. Then you had lists of questions to answer and post to the board where everyone else was supposed to respond to your answers, and you responded to theirs. Then you responded to their responses, etc, etc, etc. One day I got tied up and couldn't log on for almost 36 hours - there were nearly two hundred new messages waiting. I ended up dropping the course after the second week because the sheer amount of material combined with math and chemistry courses was overwhelming.

    This summer, I took and completed a humanities course entitled _Survey of World Literature_. The class received absolutely no input from the instructor other than the weekly lecture. The only time the instructor made her presence known was to answer direct questions posted in a special ask the instructor board (usually of the I forgot to do an assignment can I please turn it in late whine.) Wildly inaccurate and misguided posts from students went unchallenged by the faculty member in charge. I suspect that the instructor may not have even read the individual postings, but I can't prove it.

    Online courses may be very good for people of a particular personality - one who is very self driven, who isn't really into the face-to-face interaction of a classroom setting. In general however, I just don't feel like the technology has reached a point where the education delivered is of the same caliber.

    Crocuta
    • I think good questions are more important than bad or large numbers of answers? Perhaps more especially in Philosophy it's necessary to have a working hypothesis 'in mind' whilst culling relevant material. The PC and the net have fundamentally changed forever the idea that someone new to a subject can hope to peruse the revlevant material simply because the amount of data is overwhelming. The Guttenberg revolution is an ancient era and polymaths like Goethe may be a thing of the past simply because of the amount of material Information Techonology makes available. It's interesting the article spoke to 'developing nations'. There is now a double divide between the developed world and the developing world. There is the divide of literacy and now the divide of Information Technology. It'll be interesting if the Information Technology can be made to help in lessening illiteracy or if the one will act to deepen the divide. There is too computer illiteracy to consider and this with the physical barrier of ownership of the hardware exacerbates the problem.
  • I'm regestering with the nic "Hannibal Lector"
  • I'm sure your doctor got his MD at Devry!!!

    Could be worse, he could of used to be an MCSE!!!
  • I go to the one source that has all the answers: Ask Jeeves [ask.com]
  • All the "Dr. Nick" type comments miss one essential truth about non-online medical training, and that is:

    Q: What do they call the person who graduates bottom of their medical class?

    A: Doctor.

    I, for one, think any new well-researched, diagnosis-focused, detailed and systematic way of partially training doctors (read the fsking article!) is to be welcomed.

  • Oh wait..the house calls would be by a virtual doctor... Never Mind!
  • ONly the first two years of med school are in classrooms.

    The second two years are clinical/hands-on, all in the field in mini-internships. How do you do the clinical stuff on-line?
  • Hi! I'm a Doctor! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zapatero (68511)

    Excuse me while I chime in here. I'm not a real
    doctor but I play one on IM. Clients often ask me: "Doctor, why is it that I feel bad." And I chuckle and I say, "Listen to me SuckMe93, I've had lots of patients like you: People that just don't feel good. I've seen them come and I've seen them go. But in the end it all works out. It's like the skaters say: 'It's all good.'"

    Now my point is, we're all doctors aren't we? I mean we take a little, we give a little. We wake up, we feel good. We sleep, and then we swim in the sea of life and we heal.

    Thanks for listening,

    - The Doctor.
  • by T-Kir (597145)

    Ahh, will the students still have the opportunity to watch an autopsy? I remember a Quincy episode when he was due to teach a class of med students, but needed to do some investigating and couldn't get out of the class... and then made the entire class all pass out/throw up within minutes!

    I have a friend doing a Medical related degree at Edinburgh (not sure precisely which kind), and she said their compulsory module on autopsies wasn't initially fun (half the class didn't stay conscious long enough). But they are taught hands on experience from the very beginning.

    Given the state of the British NHS (overworked, underfunded yadda yadda), I'm not sure how much it will affect the 'brain drain' in that they still could end up going overseas anyway.

  • Where do I get these textbooks?
  • So what would you do if an unforseen problem arises? Like say the patient goes into cardiac arrest?

    Oh don't worry, I just reboot the system and start over.
  • Will this all mean that I'll be getting more spam asking me to get my "U N I V E R S I T Y D I P L O M A"? Cuz that's something I really need more of. Next thing you know, they'll come out with a book Learn Cardiology in 21 Days. I know I'm going to go out and buy one the day they come out. Something to sit on the shelf so I can pull it down in case I cut my finger off or something...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My Med school after anatomy (12 weeks) you can do the rest pf the 1st 2 basic science years via independent study (no lectures, just go take exams once in a while). But years 3 and 4 you are on rotation at the hospital. So basically you're just saving 1 + 12wks / 42 wks = 1.72 years.
  • by Invicta{HOG} (38763) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @09:20PM (#4429303)
    I will be a doctor in 6 months, graduating from an American university. I feel that this idea is just going in the wrong direction. The first two years are pretty much the same all over the country. Just basic science with some clinical exposure.

    What's unfortunate is that the students will still be getting the most important part of their training in their home environments. The clinical years are where the majority of applicable skills are learned. The quality of residents, attending physicians, and individual departments help determine how much exposure students get to the cutting edge of modern medicine.

    These students might get a better pre-clinical education than they would have. However, they run the risk of adopting all the bad habits of American medicine (focus on pathology, not the patient) without the benefits of its strengths (appropriate application in a compassionate setting).

    In short, the best and brightest from other countries will still leave their home countries...

    (And just in response to other comments, medical students have much of the same experiences and training as interns and residents just without the actual responsibility)

    Invicta{HOG}
  • What about training normal people in developing countries? I understand its great to have more doctors, but what about training the local Grandma/Shaman/Elder in basic medicine? Could be a great help in lots of developing nations that would never get proper medical treatment otherwise.

    Something like this, maybe put on to handheld computers and given out to the locals could go a long way towards elevating their medical standards. Granted its not like they'll be able to perform surgery, but for 90% of the 'first aid' incidents they'll be much better off.
  • The "from the ....-dept." line reminded me of an old game... does anyone else remember Life and Death? (I think that was the name, but I could be wrong.) It was for either an Amiga, or circa 286 PC...

    It was pretty terrible, but had you performing surgery on people and such... I dunno, it was kind of amusing for awhile, though(especially for the sadistic... I remember they would throw you out of the OR after abour 3 or 4 wrong incisions... also fun was forgetting the anastetic.)

    Anyone else remember that one? (and while we're at it with old Amiga games, how about.. "Weird Dreams" was it? I think that was the name... That was a cool game... with the giant cotton candy machine and all.)
    Screw it, no point in trying to make this sound on-topic:)
    • IIRC, it was around the 386/486 days... you had to be able to diagnose problems as well, and the book (large) had alot of information on how to diagnose paitents in the game... very fun, but I never got very far in it..
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know quite a bit about online education... I think it's a good thing. People seem to be taking very reactionary views, without much knowledge about the subject (totally out-of-character for /.).

    I'm studying at Columbia University through their online system [columbia.edu]. Lectures are viewed via Windows Media Player, along with still images (indexed by time against the ASF stream). Professors are available via phone/e-mail and I sometimes go to their offices.

    I've just completed a degree in Genetics and am working towards my MSEE. Overall, I think online education is great. Without it, there's no way I could make the commute in to NYC a few times a week to attend class[es], and still hold down a full-time job.

    I've certainly benefitted from this. I have had a number of papers published since I started (they are in leukemia diagnosis techniques and gene ontology discovery). I also have a few patents (I know, I'm evil...).

    Now, maybe I'm not the typical student. When I got my BS (in astrophysics), I rarely attended classes. I may just learn well on my own, but I can assure you that people can do it.

    If, as they say, you are really just doing your classroom portion of the program online, there's nothing wrong with that at all.

    It's very convenient. Isn't that what technology is for?
  • "Hello everybody!"
    "Hi Doctor Nick!"
  • I can't wait 'til I'm lying on the doctor's table when I hear "You've Got Mail!'

    Then of course, I would have to kill myself honorably.
  • (I am posting pretty late on this article, hopefully some moderators may catch it yet, and place it so it can be seen).

    I am a final year in medical school. I spend a lot of my time on various medical education internet services.

    This already goes on. A better title would have been: 'Some medical schools agree to pool their resources and decide to share their online course materials'. As a matter of fact, the licensing exam in the USA is a 8 or 9 hour computer-based multiple choice test, and the students prepare for it by taking practice computer tests online.

    Schools vary in their clinical vs. didactic education, but really, alot of the first 2 years of medical school getting up to speed on what the tissues are, the groups of microbes, basic genetic prinicples, major biochemical pathways.
    Yes their are some students that don't go to class at all for the first 2 years when all they are doing there is listening to teachers talk. Only 5% of learners are primarily auditory, and yet the lecture is primarily talk. I feel students should be allowed to pursue the path that gets the best results for them: if they can learn all their microbiology at home by spending 18 hour days, instead of wasting time in travel on a bus, then sitting to a teacher talk, they should be allowed to do so. The results at the end are what matters. All students are required to pass a licensing examination--if people think that the licensing examination somehow allows incompetent doctors through, then the exam should be changed.

    Online threaded conversations allow a good archive of question and answer for learning: things like physio aren't going to change much, and nice to have access to the prior students questions and answers from previous years.

    The ancillary skill of becoming computer-savvy is required for a doctor starting out now. There is an avalanche of new information to sift though online, and proper gathering techniques and critical assessment is required. One should be familiar with tech aids at the point of care if they can reduce errors (eg a PDA of drugs which can compare interactions of all 7 drugs that an elderly patient is on, to see if it causing a side effect). The latest journal articles are best found with PubMed online, if one hasn't learned the sklll of good data mining, their knowledge will fade from the cutting edge quick enough.

    There is different subsets of learners. Some members of a group will have excellent communication in a live group at the start, others may feel more at ease asking/answering questions in a virtual group, and building their confidence, so that hitting the live group becomes easier.

    For simulations, they make a good adjunct to the real thing. It provides a introduction to a proper case of a disease which may difficult to see in the med school's hospital. For example, Lyme disease is important to recognize on a patient, but most med students in Ireland will never see one. However, Irish citizens do to USA, get it, come back, and the result is tragic after the disease has progressed undiagnosed by the first line doctors who have never seen someone before with the classic signs.

    Visiting conferences in medical education, there is a lot of schools in 2nd world countries that now have computers and a half-way decent internet connection, but there isn't enough money to fund creation of well-made high-tech content to use. Hence, willingness of the richer universities to help the developing ones in knowledge is a welcomed trend.
  • Developing countries have "brain drain" because their economies have not grown to the extent of developed countries.

    Under pressure from the IMF/WB, many developing countries have significantly expanded their educational systems. Unfortunately, many studies have indicated that the expansion of education has had little average effect on increasing economic growth. Education is only useful if there is a demand for you with your education in your economy. If the only jobs are working in fields, you are better off working in the fields and earning money rather than wasting time in class. If there are no jobs for college educated in your country, you will either have wasted your education, or you try to go to another country where there are jobs for your college education. I'm not saying that education is unimportant for growth, because it is since sustainable long-term growth comes from investment in technology, but it is not sufficient for growth.

    The requirements for economic growth is a stable monetary system, low government corruption, democracy, limited regulation (including business, labor, and trade controls), low budget deficits, privatization (including land), respect for property rights, and non-negative real interest rates. And then education can help.

    Another issue is while "brain drain" is bad in one sense, there is a tremendous amount of money flowing back into developing countries from expatriots. El Salvador, for instance, gets 1/7th of its GDP from expatriot remissions. India also gets a large amount as well. Studies do indicate that remissions do not fully offset growth losses due to "brain drain," but at least they make up for some of the loss.

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

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