I have been following the blog of Anne Cunningham, who is a GP and clinical lecturer in Wales, UK. Although we work in different health professions, we face identical issues in education.
Anne recently talked in her post "Students learning from the patient's online voice" about how medical students could learn from patients. And of course, the issue is just as relevant to any health student.
Students learn from the narratives of the patients they meet face-to-face in practice. This is central to medical education. It seems that their could be many valuable opportunities for students to learn from the patients online as well.
She cited the example of a student who wanted to know about cholestatis in pregnancy and the only place Anne could find qualitative information was in an open discussion board. Anne went on to ask if people thought there was any problem with students accessing information from sources such as online forums?
Networking with health consumers
I agree that the opportunities for learning from health consumer and patients online is by and large unexplored. When you consider how much health information is shared on the Internet, the potential for students to learn from patients is immense. I really love Anne's idea of utilising resources like forums to educate her students. And what I would like to do is take things a step further and think how we can actively facilitate networking with health consumers that enhances learning for both groups. And I'm still mulling over quite how you go about it.
How do you think we can tap into the wealth of knowledge that health consumers have? How can networked learning benefit both health students and consumers? What are the risks and benefits? Would you want to network with a medical or midwifery student, and how would you be prepared to do it?
Image: 'Woman in the Wheelchair' neovain