There are loads of survival guides out there to help medical students adapt well to university life but which ones should you be taking notice of? I’ve put together a list of my top 6 must reads - I hope you find them useful.
1. BMJ’s Guide for Tomorrow's Doctors
If you don’t read anything else, read this. It covers everything from the pros and cons of using the library to essential medical websites (check out number 6 on the list :D).
2. Money Matters
Ok, this isn’t the most exciting topic but definitely a stress you could do without. The Money Saving Expert gives some great advice on how to make money and manage your finances.
This guide includes 4 simple but essential study tips relevant throughout your years at university.
4. Dos and Don’ts
Some great advice from Dundee University here on the dos and don’ts of surviving medical school.
5. Advice to Junior Doctors
Karin shares some of her hospital experiences and gives advice to junior doctors.
6. Looking after yourself
To get the most out of university it’s important that you look after yourself. The NHS provide some great tips from eating healthily on a budget to managing stress during exam time.
If you know of any other useful survival guides or would like to create your own please send them across to me email@example.com.
A recent review by World Bank Group has highlighted the enthusiasm for digitalising text books in Africa. Education officials seeking to acquire digital teaching and learning material have come to realise that it is actually quite a challenging and complex process. The procurement processes in comparison to acquiring traditional textbooks is proving to be less cost effective.
Currently in Africa a few countries have been ambitious in wanting to roll out digital textbooks, referred to as 'teaching and learning resources and materials presented in electronic and digital formats'.
Michael Truanco (Sr. ICT & Education Specialist) for World Bank, makes a clear point about the increasing consideration of the use of free content. Where free content is being used, this means the acquisition of the content is free. But is it really free?
The costs associated with piloting small projects in order to introduce digital teaching and learning materials as a way to learn what the related costs are. There are three categories to consider, the costs related to content, the device related costs and ecosystem related cost.
Michael highlights the costs related to content which are directly related to the acquisition of content. Although post acquisition - there are other costs to consider, including vetting (for accuracy), contextualising, embedding, classifying and distribution.
Device -related costs and other costs which are related includes the end user device which digital teaching materials are viewed on, accompanied with the technical infrastructure. Further costs to consider include the repair and maintenance, replacement, upgrade and security. In order for a device to function efficiently the baseline of electricity needs to be considered. These are the direct related costs to the device, as well as costs associated to the ecosystem.
The article does not seek to dampen the initiative of digitalising content but rather highlight the need to consider the finer details in finances, which is a fundamental element within the process of this great initiative.
Previous initiatives include the World Bank in Latin America and Africa which sought to provide 'teacher generated content'. The initiative is an excellent one but the reality of digitalising textbook initiatives in Africa may need, further refining in terms of economics and overall financial costings.
The question to really ask is whether digitalising textbooks in Africa will have a greater accessibility and outcome than traditional printed format? However, as discussed to achieve this, it will come at a price? But, does the costs outweigh the outcomes?
Irrespective of the costs the overall outcome and benefit of digitalising text book initiative in Africa will have a much greater overall impact. Children and adults will be able to access mass content and learning materials in a much more accessible way. Thus, leading to a more effective and positive learning environment.
To read more on this topic please feel free to click on the article by Michael Truanco of World Bank (see link below).
Well I think they do. In 2012 I attended the #digidoc2012 conference in London. This was a conference aimed at bringing clinicians and technology enthusiasts together to learn how better to use technology to help in a clinical setting. Part of the day included tutorials and lectures, but my favourite part was the ‘hack’ session. In groups, we pitched ideas about potential apps which could be created to help different groups i.e. clinicians, patients, providers etc. From this session the initial concept of PhotoConsent was formed.
Medical photography in a hospital setting can be relatively straight forward. A clinician can call up the medical photography department, get them to sort out the forms and details, patient consented, picture taken...done. The main issue with this is the time taken to access the medical photography department.
Medical photography in a moderately acute setting or primary care is considerably less straight forward. Issues on how you document the consent, what methods used (verbal or written) and how this is stored need to be considered. There exists some guidance on the matter (see Good Medical Practice: Making and using visual and audio recordings of patients), however actual practice is variable. The added issue of social media and the ease of which images can now be shared can add to the confusion.
The solution - PhotoConsent:
I am involved in several on-line forums and governance groups. With seeing interactions about patient images in social media and various online clinical groups, I felt a more complete solution was needed which gave better protection and governance for both patients and clinicians. Following the #digidoc12 conference (https://thedigitaldoc.co.uk/), I met some innovative colleagues including Ed Wallit (@podmedicsed). We took this brainstormed idea further and now we have a finished product- PhotoConsent app.
PhotoConsent is a new application designed to help you as a clinician to safely and easily take photos of a patient and then obtain the relevant consent for that photo quickly and efficiently. It is currently available on iOS.
How does it work?
Upon opening the app you can take a photo from the home screen. Once you have confirmed you have the best possible image, you and the patient are shown the consent options. Using PhotoConsent you can choose to obtain consent to use the photo for assessment, second opinion or referral, educational use or publication. In real time with the patient you can then select each consent option to explore in more detail to allow informed consent. This consent can then be digitally signed and emailed to the patient instantly. The image and consent can then be used by the clinician in accordance with GMC guidance. This can be via the app, email or via the online portal: PhotoConsent.co.uk. What makes PhotoConsent unique is that the consent is digitally secure in the metadata of the image. So proof of consent is always with the image.
Why should I use PhotoConsent?
It is important if taking a medical image of a patient, that consent is obtained and recorded. Written consent is considered the best option. PhotoConsent allows you to take consent with the patient in real-time, forward the patient a copy of the consent so they can stay informed, and be safe in the knowledge that consent is secure within the image metadata. All this is possible through your own iOS device making it convenient and effective for all involved.
What is next for PhotoConsent?
The first release of PhotoConsent is out, but there can always be progression. In the future I hope to bring the app to the Android platform to make it more accessible to a wider audience. We are also working on expanding the app to include consent for non-medical use. We have a few other ideas but time will tell if these are possible.
About the owner:
Dr Hussain Gandhi (@drgandalf52) is a GP and GP trainer working in the Nottingham area. He is a RCGP First5 lead, Treasurer of RCGP Vale of Trent faculty, co-author of The New GPs Handbook, owner of PhotoConsent and egplearning.co.uk – an e-learning portal; and a member of Tiko’s GP group on Facebook (@TheVoiceofTGG).
All Images taken via PhotoConsent.
Computerised presentations are a part of every medical student's / junior doctor's life. Sometimes we give them, often we sleep through them and occasionally we even listen to them. They are the backbone of medical education besides traditional bed-side teaching, having rapidly replaced the now extinct OHR (Over Head Projector) acetate-sheet presentations of years gone-by.
The problem is that Doctors and medical students often struggle with creating and presenting coherent slides. This is most probably due to the general apathy most have for actually talking in front of an audience, or because those asked to present are often taken unawares, and therefore have little time to prepare. In these times of avolition or last-minute hurriedness, people often reach out for the industry standard of presentation production: PowerPoint.
PowerPoint is the most commonly used tool for making presentations because it is simple to use and comes with a whole load of free templates. Unfortunately, most of these templates look disgusting. If a template doesn't look disgusting, then it is most certainly overused and you run the risk of having a presentation that looks identical to the student before you at the weekly seminar teaching - a scenario that can be easily likened to turning up to a lecture wearing exactly the same clothes as another person in the room, which would just be awkward. Another problem with PowerPoint is the phenomenon of 'Death By Powerpoint,' which refers to the general boredom and apathy experienced by those who have received way too much information in way too short a space of time via a series of over-cramped, poorly stylised slides.
But why on earth do you care?
People should care about 'Death By Powerpoint' because if your presentations cause people to zone out, then you are not getting your message across. And if you aren't getting your message across then you. are. not. presenting. at. all. (take a moment to reflect on that particularly Zen statement).
Let me explain using a metaphor, if I am a sales person and I present my talk with well-designed slides, in an enthusiastic and well-rehersed manner to an appropriate audience I will make more sales than if I present using poorly designed slides at the last minute. Similarly, in Medicine if I present well designed, aesthetic slides I am more likely to convey accurate information to my colleagues that may very well be retained and enjoyed by all involved.
Of course, this blog assumes a degree of presentation-related Altruism. The recommendations I am about to make require you to 'step out of the mould' and say 'no' to poor presentations. They require you to forgive others for the presentations they have inflicted on you in the past. You will 'lead by example'.
Unfortunately I am not capable (or qualified) to make you an excellent designer, nor can I give you the motivation to feel as passionately about design aesthetics as i do when all you've got to do is slam some slides together for your monthly journal club. But what I can do is present to you a series of resources that might tempt you away from the horrific PowerPoint templates that currently infest medical student seminars and young doctors presentations.
If you really couldn't care less, then I suggest using Prezi, a website where you can make quite eccentric looking presentations rapidly and for free. The only problem is that Prezi became cliched even before its debut and you risk inflicting travel sickness on your poor audience, what with all the funky zooming in and out of slides that occurs during a typical Prezi presentation (you will know what I mean if you've ever seen one).
So, without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for making your presentations look smoother and more polished... Irrespective of whether the contents of your talk are any good.
Step One: Typography
Get yourself a good font. Typography is really important, when you speak to someone you use a variety of tones and gestures to convey the meaning of the words you are using. Fonts are effectively the printed version of your tone and gestures. Good font choice can help give 'umph' to a particular point in your presentation and help give character to what you are saying. Of course, it's important to remain professional so 'Wingbats' might not be your first choice, but anything that you could envisage on a nice business card is probably a good shout. Fonts are usually something you have to pay for if you want anything beyond the set given to you when you download Microsoft Word (for example). However, there are whole hosts of free fonts available from sites like [dafont])(http://www.dafont.com). The key is to be willing to trawl through these sites to find fonts that are actually useful! Beware those fancy fonts unless you know your audience can take it!
If you are stuck on choosing a font, which is a common complaint, then maybe this flow diagram will help!
Oh yeah, and never ever use Comic Sans. Ever.
Step Two: Colour
A good font isn't going to get you very far on its own. You need a solid colour scheme to bring your presentation alive. It seems blunt to say, but some people are not very good at picking colours that go well with one another. This is well evidenced in PowerPoint presentations where the yellow-text-on-blue-background is far too common. I mean yeah, in theory blue and yellow 'compliment' each other, but thats where the relationship between blue and yellow should stay... in theory. Luckily there are some useful colour palette websites available out there, which will match colours for you...
Step Three: Structure
After you've picked a sensible font and a suitable colour scheme, it's time to think about the structure or layout of your slides. It's absolutely crucial that you avoid putting too much information on your slides even if you are giving an academic presentation. An overloaded slide is about as useful as a dead cat. At this point, some of you may be tempted to resort to those dodgy PowerPoint default templates but there is another way! There are sites out there that have some pretty fresh templates you can use and they are completely free! They are sure to add a bit of spice to your slide's aesthetic.
There will probably be a separate tutorial on this in the future, but basic principles apply. As a general rule stick to Left Alignment *and avoid *Central Alignment like the plague.
Step Four: Imagery
Images help to spice up a presentation, but try and keep them related to the topic. Google Images is a great resource but remember that most images will be a low resolution and will be poorly suited to being shown blown up full-size on a presentation screen. Low resolution images are a presentation killer and should be avoided at all costs.
For high-quality images try sites like Flikr or ShutterStock.
Step Five: Consider Software
The interface of Powerpoint does not lend itself well to having images dropped in and played with to make nice looking layouts. I would recommend Adobe Photoshop for this kind of work, but not everyone will have access to such expensive software. Cheap alternatives include Photoshop Elements amongst others.
Once you have created slides in Photoshop it is quick and easy to save them as JPEG files and drag and drop them into PowePoint. Perhaps that can be a tutorial for another time...
Step 5: Additional Stuff
Presentations typically lack significance, structure, simplicity and rehearsal. Always check over your presentation and ask 'is this significant to my audience?' Always structure your presentation in a logical manner and (it is recommended you) include a contents slide and summary slide to tie things together. Keep your verbal commentary simple and keep the slides themselves even more simple than that. Simplicity is crucial. Once you have produced your beautiful slides with wonderful content you will want to practice them. Practice, Practice, Practice. Rehearsing even just once can make a good presentation even better.
This blog entry has covered some basic points on how to improve your medical presentations and has given a series of useful online resources. Putting effort into designing a presentation takes time and motivation, for those without these vital ingredients we recommend Prezi (whilst it is still relatively new and fresh). Perhaps the rest of you will only use these tips for the occasional important presentation. However, I hope that soon after you start approaching presentations with a little more respect for their importance and potential, you too will find a desire to produce high-quality, aesthetically pleasing talks.
LARF - Mood: damn tired and feeling guilty that I just wrote this blog instead of revising haematology notes.
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