Tools for Pharmacology Education on Display

Colin T. Son


April 23, 2009

Medical education is evolving. Innovative uses of technology are becoming the norm, enabling students and physicians to manage increasingly vast amounts of information. Ohio State University recently gave every one of their medical students an iPod Touch; virtual worlds like Second Life are being used to train healthcare providers through the use of simulation; and the Internet increasingly is being used to put interactive learning tools at medical students' fingertips. Perhaps nowhere is that better on display than at Pharmamotion.

Most young physicians probably can remember a moment of stress or sheer terror leading up to a pharmacology examination during medical school. Of the preclinical content that healthcare professionals must master, pharmacology is some of the toughest. Pharmamotion offers a collection of online lectures, videos, animations, questions, and pharmacology news intended to serve as a resource for the current and future physician.

This amazingly detailed resource is put together by Flavio Guzman, MD, writing from the University of Mendoza in Argentina. In the following interview he talks about his interest in pharmacology and the power of the Internet in medical education. He also calls for others to contribute to online medical education resources.

Pharmamotion hosts Grand Rounds
April 14, 2009

Colin Son: What prompted you to start Pharmamotion? Was it spurred by your own students at the University of Mendoza?

Flavio Guzman: Pharmamotion is a blog that I started as a teaching aid for local students. That was a year ago, and now it receives more than 13,000 visits a month.

Once I was online with Pharmamotion I soon found out that there were educators around the world who had also created great teaching materials. Pharmamotion initially contained animations and materials that I had created for my students, but with so many great resources out there on the Web, I thought I should spend some time gathering them in one place.

One of the things that I like the most about the Web is that it is a dynamic universe. At first the objective of Pharmamotion was a limited one, but thanks to the readers' feedback and demand, the scope has widened now to include slideshows, multiple-choice questions, and drug-therapy news.

Colin Son: Where did your interest in pharmacology and pharmacology education originate?

Flavio Guzman: I first became interested in pharmacology during medical school. At the University that I attended, pharmacology was one big block during the preclinical years. At that time, what got me attracted to pharmacology was its power to integrate physiology, molecular and cell biology, and clinical therapeutics.

Too often I see that for many people, studying pharmacology is almost torture. In my opinion, learning pharmacology is all about strategy. The most important thing is to comprehend core concepts and not to focus on hundreds of drug names by rote learning. That's why I strongly believe that Pharmamotion will help anyone involved in understanding pharmacology and its related disciplines. We should make the best possible use of Web 2.0 tools as a complement to medical textbooks.

Colin Son: You've collected an incredible amount of educational materials on Pharmamotion. Do people submit that material to you or do you find it yourself online?

Flavio Guzman: I have collected most of the material myself, but fortunately, in the last few months, I have received high-quality contributions from around the globe. Now I have enabled an email address just for that purpose: If Medscape readers believe that they have interesting material to share, they should not hesitate to write. I would love to work out a way to get more content up on Pharmamotion.

Colin Son: How do you think the Internet has influenced medical/science education? What do you think the future holds in terms of using the Internet and social media in pharmacology education?

Flavio Guzman: I dare to say that the Internet represents a milestone in medical and science education, and I feel very excited about being part of it. I think multimedia resources like online videos, podcasts, and Second Life will gain prominence in medical and science education.

However, physicians will now have to be trained in dealing with information overload. Finding relevant information on the Web beyond search engines can be complicated and confusing if you don't know what you're doing. We must learn the basics of evidence-based medicine in order to translate knowledge to clinical answers, pursuing the well-being of our patients.

Grand Rounds has long served as an educational resource as well. Every week this health-blog carnival features opinions and educational posts from physicians, nurses, students, patients, and others interested in healthcare. On Tuesday, April 14, Grand Rounds will be at Pharmamotion.