The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), through the efforts of a group of dermatology educators, has created an online medical student core curriculum. These learning modules and videos were designed to meet the needs of learners and educators who may or may not have access to a core dermatologic curriculum. This educator’s guide describes the format and content of these modules and recommends some ways to incorporate them into clinical instruction.
The goals and objectives of this curriculum were focused by two previously published needs assessment studies. They were reviewed by work group members and educational experts.
The online curriculum encompasses a broad range of dermatologic topics, but the format for each module is consistent and contains these components:
- Goals and objectives.
- Module instructions.
- Questions and answers.
- Take-home points.
For every dermatologic condition, the module presents information in several ways, thereby broadening the scope of a student's learning. These content areas include:
- Links to the Dermatologic Glossary, which defines key terms.
- Clinical evaluation.
- Sample cases (fictional cased-based on typical presentations).
- Basic elements of treatment.
- When to refer to a dermatologist.
Educators using these online modules have the option of integrating them into an ongoing dermatologic curriculum at their institutions, or using them as the major didactic component of exposure to topics in dermatology. This curriculum has been designed as a resource for students to use during their clinical rotations.
The clinical cases reinforce recognition of common skin conditions that students are likely to see in the clinical or inpatient setting, as well as important, but uncommon, skin conditions that students may not encounter during their rotations. The modules also discuss first-line treatment approaches for various dermatologic conditions, with an emphasis on commonly prescribed medications and their indications for use. Because of the inherent subjectivity of patient care, the content in this curriculum has been peer-reviewed by dermatologists from across the United States and reflects current treatment practices nationwide. A comprehensive list of references can be found at the end of each module.
The online modules facilitate both lecture-style learning and independent study, depending on the needs of the educator. The modules were designed for students to review independently, at their own pace. Because each module typically takes less than 30 minutes to complete, modules can be assigned for students to review after seeing a particular condition in clinic. The modules were designed for independent study, but they also work well in a lecture format for large groups.
Multiple instructional videos about dermatologic procedures have been created. Links to these are embedded within the modules and also are accessible from the curriculum's main Web page.
Clinical images and information are repeated throughout this curriculum. This repetition of elements was purposefully included to reinforce concepts found in certain disease scenarios. Case-based questions were liberally incorporated to help students test their knowledge and to familiarize them with dermatology-based questions that may appear on board or self-exams. The take-home points at the end of each module direct the students to the important core principles emphasized in that module.
Although students may complete the modules in any order, it is recommended that they start with the introductory modules. These modules allow them to describe findings from a skin exam and understand the basic pathophysiology of common skin diseases, as well as the appropriate treatment strategies. Students should review these on the first day of their clerkship. The introductory modules include:
- The skin exam
- Basic science
- Dermatologic therapies
The online curriculum can be approached as a supplement to a two- or four-week clerkship. For this purpose, the recommended order of modules for a two- or four-week curriculum
is included as part of this educator’s guide. The modules are organized this way in the navigation on the left.
Educators should save time by setting clear expectations about the rotation on the first day. Students should be directed to the curriculum goals and objectives and instructed on how to review the modules.
Educators are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the goals and objectives, as well as with individual modules. Knowing the content and structure of the modules will help direct students’ learning. Individual educators will likely have “pearls” to share that are not included in the modules, and this enhances the overall learning experience.
When students encounter a particular condition in the clinic, the educator can cross-reference the disease to the appropriate learning module (see below). It is helpful to make a quick assessment of how much the student already knows about the subject and tailor his or her study accordingly with learning prescriptions.