Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"What Angry Birds Can Tell Us About Educating the Next Generation of Physicians"

In September 2011, Catherine Reinis Lucey, MD, will be joining the UCSF campus as our new Vice Dean of Education in the School of Medicine. Dr. Dave Irby is her predecessor in this position. Dr. Lucey brings with her expertise from the work she has done as the interim dean and vice dean for education at the Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine and associate vice president for health sciences education for the OSU Office of Health Sciences.

Click on image to view video

I recently happened upon a presentation that Dr. Lucey gave as part of AcademiX, an education series sponsored by Apple highlighting mobile technologies in higher education.

She bases her ideas of using mobile technologies in medical education on the example of the popularity of the mobile app Angry Birds. She discusses how to engage medical students through interactive learning on a mobile device.

Below is my summary of her key presentation points:

* In the age of "technology assisted learning", we learn best when at point of need (ie, when treating a patient)

* Utopia of medical education: Create the expert physician

* Deliberate Practice - concept for developing expertise (by K. Anders Ericsson), basis for "Outliers" (book by Malcolm Gladwell)

* Developing expert performance requires:
(1) increasing complex challenges
(2) immediate feedback and coaching
(3) time to practice, fail, practice, improve

* The science and power of motivation:
Having a cycle of challenge -- Allowing time for correction -- Time for reinforcement -- A time rechallenge

* Example: Computer games
(1) engaged user challenged to master skills in each level
(2) the device becomes the coach by allowing/denying passage/progress to next level based on skills learned

Examples of ideas generated at Ohio State University School of Medicine -

(1) "Angry" Mammograms app
-radiology training for reading mammograms
-provides levels of complexity & nuances
- tiered in difficulty
- develops pattern recognition

(2) "Angry" Heart sounds
- auditory learning
- reinforce through repetition, like listening to pop music over and over to learn the melody and lyrics

Goal - to embed mobile devices into medical curriculum to increase efficiency in learning in the process of creating the expert physician.

* Presentation video at
* Presentation slides at
* Dr. Lucey's bio at

Check out previous postings from my blog that relate to gaming apps for medical education topics -


Laura Kimbley said...

This is really cool. This age makes us realize that study and play are never on different sides of the coin called "learning". Game concepts applied to learning makes the studying experience fun and relatively more enjoyable.

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