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Dr. Marcela Saeb's Blog

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Dermatopathology: From textbooks to experience-based learning


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I have been asking myself if there are other ways to learn dermatopathology and recognize histological patterns than just listening to a professor or expert discuss a topic, or going to tedious lectures in which 30 or more minutes of intense concentration are necessary. As a consequence, I have been looking other options such as experience-based learning.

Experience is a noun or verb which was first used in the 14th century, and derives from the latin word experientia, which by definition is “the act of trying, the direct observation or participation of an event to get or obtain knowledge, which produces a superior understanding or mastery” (1).

Experience-based learning has it’s foundation in a process that involves three actions:

• Reflection
• Evaluation
• Reconstructing events.

In dermatopathology this includes identification and recognition of histopathological patterns. Experience-based learning requires intelligence, and the use of all our senses to interpret such knowledge obtained. The process is divided in three steps:

• Designing or planning the correct setting. In dermatopathology this is the recognition of histopathological patterns
• Use of previous knowledge either through books or from instructors, teachers or experts with whom the student can discuss or deliberate
• Assessment of the results which will evaluate and apply to the information obtained

Such experience-based learning should have the goal of achieving enough knowledge to appreciate and give an understanding of pattern recognition. But is it enough to obtain the knowledge through just one of our senses, or should we have more senses involved in this activity?

I have been searching for other ways of learning and found that through digital images on a touch screen, pathologists utilize not only visual experience but also tactile senses (kinectic memory) (2). This obviously might change the impact of learning because involvement of different senses could add to our experience. Pathologists would no longer be visual thinkers, but also kinectic ones. And just for completeness of the experience, might music with voice description also be included?

Learning dermatopathology would no longer be a classroom or forum event but rather a self experience-based learning phenomenon that would impact memory in a better way and consequently improve our knowledge because self engagement would be crucial.

Marcela Saeb Lima MD



Reference
1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POZfWqmUSMo&feature=share
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Dr. Phillip McKee

Posted

Marcela, this is fabulous, I am fascinated by the video and keep watching it. Music is essential. Unfortunately I am currently hooked on Gorecki's 3rd symphony and so I will be crying all the way through signout! The only problem is that I cannot see myself ever getting beyond the first few cases. I would get so engrossed in playing with the image that I might even forget my smoking break. Just imagine that!!
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Mark A. Hurt MD

Posted

Dear Marcela,

This is fascinating technology, and I think it would work for daily sign-out provided that a single slide is sufficient for establishing the diagnosis. In my practice, which is not unusual in this respect, I may have to recut small specimens to deplete all the tissues in the block. At 200 GB per specimen, this is a massive amount of storage, much less the time involved in scanning the slides. Do you have additional insights into how to use this technology in a practice setting?
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