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Educational Pathology Modules Utilizing Virtual Slide Technology

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Drazen M. Jukic will apply his 2004 ACIE grant to revolutionize microscopic pathology instruction and, at the same time, advance the medical diagnostic competencies of physicians in training at the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical School. Jukic notes that diagnostic competencies in reviewing and evaluating microscopic tissue slides are essential to many areas of medicine, including dermatology, hematology, urology, and neurology, and they are skills acquired from experience rather than from books. However, he further notes that it can take six years to master the skills necessary to effectively manipulate, view, and assess microscopic tissue slides; and development of these skills mandates not only sufficient access to a single- or double-head microscope but also to appropriate slide study sets from the thousands maintained by the medical school. Furthermore, the current, limited availability and variable quality of microscopes dedicated to instruction and practice restrict access and application for students, residents, and fellows. Jukic’s project, Creation of Education Pathology Modules Utilizing Virtual Slide Technology, Designed for Medical Students, Residents and Fellows, addresses these obstacles in medical education with collaboration and support from the Center for Biomedical Informatics, Department of Pathology and Dermatology, and Internal Medicine and Pathology.

Relatively new “virtual slide” technologies remedy many of the inherent challenges in viewing, sharing, manipulating and preserving traditional microscopic slides. These innovations also provide the flexible access required by physicians in training; ensure the comprehensive, consistent quality and continued integrity of the slides themselves; and guarantee the secure sharing of resources among collaborating physicians. Exploiting these new technologies, the project will develop a searchable, Web-accessible database of annotated, digitized slides. Between 4,000 and 5,500 slides will be reviewed, scanned and placed on a server within the first year and, thereafter, approximately 1,500 will be annotated annually. Annotations associated with instructional units will be developed for virtual slide study sets, and test modules will be created to accompany each set for ongoing educational outcome assessment. Once the database is online, medical students, residents, fellows, and physicians will have virtually unlimited access to review, change magnification, and manipulate the slides dynamically anytime and anywhere.

Each year, approximately 150 medical students in both dermatology and pathology courses will benefit from Jukic’s project. Furthermore, the essentially unlimited availability and expandability of this Web repository will make it a cutting-edge resource for students and professionals alike—not only here at the University of Pittsburgh but throughout the world.


SEPTEMBER 2004

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