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194 - New Educational Tools for Understanding Complexity in Medical Science

from PART V - CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 May 2010

Grace Huang
Affiliation:
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Michael J. Parker
Affiliation:
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
James Gordon
Affiliation:
Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
William C. Aird
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
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Summary

The factors that have caused the endothelium to be an under-recognized and underemphasized organ system are the same reasons that make it a challenging topic for students and teachers alike. The endothelial cell (EC) is hidden from view, seen only by microscopy rather than at the gross anatomical level. Because it participates in all vascular structures, it is often regarded as part of other organs, rather than as a distinct entity. Its distribution throughout the body results in interactions that are multiple and complex, which means that it cannot be discussed without a prior understanding of other organ systems. The endothelium is not readily evaluated by specific diagnostic tests, and at the cognitive level, the endothelium may not evoke a specific mental image as would the heart, for instance. To fully understand the complexity of endothelial biomedicine, new educational tools may be useful in complementing traditional teaching approaches.

Technological advances in the past few decades have had dramatic consequences on how the biomedical sciences are being taught. Educators can now harness the power of technology to manage enormous amounts of information and to deliver content in a manner that promotes high-level, experiential learning. Medical simulation is one area that is revolutionizing medical education. Broadly defined, medical simulation refers to the controlled reproduction of physiologic or clinical environments. For our purposes, we will consider it to be “a model of some phenomenon or activity that users learn about through interaction with the simulation” (1). In the most effective educational simulations, learner-driven exploration and experience lead to enhanced understanding of complex phenomena.

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Endothelial Biomedicine , pp. 1799 - 1806
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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