In my current position as the Program Director of a Faculty Development Fellowship, we regularly discuss the concept of different learner types. The challenge as a medical educator is how to teach to a variety of different learner types especially if you are giving a medical lecture or other didactic event. The best researched learning types in medical education are those based on the work of David Kolb and his concepts of experiential learning types. His classic four types are: diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating. All of my fellows and residents take a Kolb learning style inventory when they start the program. Probably the most popular learning style theory in common use is based on Neil Fleming’s four sensory modalities of visual, read/write, auditory, and kinesthetic. Many talk about being a “visual” or “auditory” learner especially regarding their tolerance of listening to a lecture vs. “seeing” pictures, images, video as ways to learn. In the advent of medical simulation and adult/active learning, kinesthetic learning has become increasingly popular as many adults must “do” in order to learn.

It is in this educational area of debate, the app Picturing Medicine attempts to assist visual learners. Created by a team of educators and writers/artists, Picturing Medicine is geared towards medical students and residents who appreciate the visual method of learning. The app is divided into 3 themes: syndromes, signs and symptoms, and differential diagnoses. I did not purchase any of the in-app options so my review is based on what comes “free” in the app downloaded from the iTunes store. Clicking on the theme antiphospholipid syndrome brings up an illustration of a woman with other superimposed pictures. You have the option of viewing these “unlabelled” to test yourself or view them with the labels and explanations. If you click on “more info” the app sends you to a summary of the condition in eMedicine/Medscape. Clicking on ARDS under Signs and Symptoms, brings up a picture of lungs, a chest x-ray and a “blue man” who seems to exhaling smoke. The labels give you a brief overview of the condition, though little practical detail for practicing providers. The More Info brings you back to eMedicine for their article on ARDS.

Let’s try out the Picturing Medicine app to see how well it helps this visual learner.

Login to iMedicalApps in order to view the following video review of Picturing Medicine. Registration for iMedicalApps is free.

Evidence based medicine

The app uses “educational evidence” regarding the concept of visual learning and combines that with quality illustrations and a respected evidence reference in eMedicine.

What providers would benefit from this App?

Students, residents, mid-level students, nursing students and any other provider who claims to be a visual learner.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

  • Price
    • $4.79 on Android; Free on iOS with in-app purchases from $1.99 to $8.99.
    • Utilizes Fleming’s visual learner theory.
    • Quality medical illustrations.
    • Ability to view with and without illustration labels to quiz yourself.
    • Links out to eMedicine for more information about each topic.
  • Dislikes
    • Some illustrations and topics seem too “thin” and “basic”.
    • Need internet connection for eMedicine links.
    • Pricing of in-app purchases seems somewhat arbitrary.
  • Overall

    An interesting educational app for medical students, residents and junior learners of allied health fields who desire a visual alternative to learning medical syndromes, signs/symptoms and differential diagnoses. App may be too basic for some, but with the eMedicine integration, learners with a read/write preference can still get their fix.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Unique approach to teaching medical knowledge; illustrations are good quality despite basic UI.

  • Multimedia Usage

    High quality medical illustrations that offer an alternative to reading with good integration with eMedicine.

  • Price

    Reasonably priced, but can get much more expensive with in-app purchases.

  • Real World Applicability

    Could be very helpful for beginners in the medical fields, likely not applicable to anyone above resident level of training.

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 6 running iOS 9.0

  • Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad