It is important for all doctors and medical students to have a thorough understanding of microbiology as many will spend a considerable amount of time working to oppose the actions of viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Knowledge of pathogenic organisms and their mode of action allows physicians to select the correct treatment from a dizzying array of medicines.
Allogy interactive have teamed up with McGraw-Hill to release a number of new applications based on Sherris’ Medical Microbiology.
The ones collectively reviewed here are:
- Pathogenic Viruses
- Pathogenic Bacteria
- Pathogenic Parasites
Each of these apps has a consistent user interface and only differ in terms of their content. Opening each app presents the user with a table of contents covering a wide range of content related to the app. Below are three screenshots showing the table of contents for each of the three applications.
There are also options for Selecting a quiz, Coaching, High Yield Facts and Settings.
The content in each of these apps is a great introduction to the world of pathogenic organisms and presents important concepts is concise, easy to understand chunks. Once these concepts have been mastered, the applications offer significantly more depth in information regarding specific pathogens. This includes an introduction to the pathogen, treatment options, clinical correlations and is often accompanied by a clinical case. There are usually questions that test depth of understanding
One of the more interesting components of these apps are the features designed to help you learn and manage the material. It is possible to set the date of your exam in the preferences and then the app will create custom quizzes, track knowledge, performance at a unique rate allowing you to cover all the material in advance of your test.
For this to work the user must log in to the app regularly which may not always tie in with the users learning style. Once you have selected an exam date, then the app will split your time into three sections: Learning, Review and Retain. As each day passes, new questions are ‘unlocked’ on which you can now test yourself. If you find that you are advancing quicker than the application you can manually ‘unlock’ new chapters.
The user interface of the apps was initially confusing, especially when trying to work out how to use the custom quizzes. It is not clear that all the content is always available and it is just the questions that are released on a schedule. Despite this, it is still a good idea and it would be interesting to see how effective it is in a real pressure situation. It is possible to track your learning with a range of graphs and statistics that help you manage your learning effectively.
The High Yield tab initially presents Vocabulary, Correlates and Study Questions although, unfortunately, this section is fairly disappointing. Clicking through the vocabulary section is useful as key words have been defined however (for the bacteria app) the Correlates page is blank and there are only three questions in the ‘Study Questions’ section.
Furthermore, there is no stem present for these three questions meaning that it is almost certainly impossible to answer some of the questions (For an example see the screenshot which shows a question with no stem). This is reflected in each of the apps which all appear to need further development.
- Each app is $4.99 and designed purely for the iPhone or iPod touch.
- Personalized quizzes set to help study and manage learning
- Content is concise and well referenced
- User interface can initially be confusing
- Questions sometimes do not have a stem
- High Yield Tab has limited use
- This collection of apps are useful for students who are learning about pathogens for the first time.
- They are useful to recap key concepts quickly, however, I do not think they could be used as a sole resource while studying microbiology due to the lack of depth.
- Other sections of the applications still need development in order to become a successful study learning resource.