Computer usage in medical schools is becoming increasingly inevitable as time goes by. The enormous and drastic technological revolution that started in late 20th Century and persisted to contemporary times has affected all learning institutions largely, medical schools included.
Majority of researchers agree that computers play major role in medical schools and in future, computer communication network in medical schools might be the centre of interest if the current requirements by medical school curriculum is anything to go by. Most medical schools have made it compulsory for any reporting student to have a computer and this point the place of computer communication network in medical schools now and in the future.
Nevertheless, while most researchers agree on numerous issues concerning this area, there remain few disagreements concerning particular elements of the whole process. This paper reviews different literature materials in this area, citing the controversial elements, weaknesses, strengths, and areas subject to improvement in computer communication network in medical schools.
As aforementioned, there are numerous peer-reviewed studies concerning this area and researchers agree on several issues. According to Ostbye (2006), “computers and computer networks are becoming increasingly recognized as important facilitators of communication among researchers and educators in medicine schools” (p. 43).
This study reveals that use computer communication network in medicine schools is increasingly gaining popularity in a bid to keep pace with the increasing changing trends in contemporary world which has become a global village.
This research revealed that, computer networks are used to access directories and important information like journals contained in Medline, Pub Med and other scholarly sites in the interment. Moreover, through computer communication network, students now transfer computer files or data to lecturers thus making learning easy and interesting.
Ostbye (2006) notes, because of the increasing need to use computer communication network in medicine schools, education stakeholders are organizing more computer conferences to create awareness across the world. In conclusion, Ostbye agrees that, the place of computer communication network in medicine schools is inevitable noting that most medicine schools have fully embraced the use of this technology in their curriculum.
In another research on the same issue, the findings are similar to what Ostbye observed. “Introduction of the new technology has brought significant changes in education especially in medical education which undergone profound changes due to recent technological advancements” (Bulu, 2009). This confirms earlier claims that the recent technological advancements have infiltrated most education systems including medicine schools.
This research particularly cited the huge investments in information and communication technologies (ICT) in medicals schools especially in developed countries. This investment is meant to ameliorate education standards in medicine schools. Most stakeholders agree that ICT is a powerful tool in addressing most education challenges in medicine schools. The role of ICT in medicine schools is so significant that it was cited as one of the objectives in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Study carried in Edinburg University medical school showed, “86 percent of students agreed that computer skills will be beneficial to them in their future career and that 62 percent wanted a structured course in computer use” (Bulu, 2009). This shows how important computer communication network in medicine schools has become. Currently, students do not want to remain in the Stone Age where information flow was restricted to emissaries; no, they want free flow of information accessible at the click of the mouse.
A research carried by Platt, Anderson, and Obenshain in 1999 to determine use of student-centered, computer-mediated communication to enhance the school curriculum indicated increased need and pivotal role played by computer communication in medical schools. “Many medical schools have made computer purchase compulsory for all incoming students” (Platt, Anderson & Obenshain, 1999, p. 757).
The requirement that every incoming student to have a computer, emphasizes on the pivotal role played by computer communication in medicine school. This implies that every medical student in these institutions has access to computer communication. A report from the Department of Biometry in Louisiana State University Medical Center recommended integration of computer communication network in the curriculum of school of medicine.
“Medical students use computers to; manage information support patient care decisions, select treatments, and develop their abilities as life-long learners” (Platt, Anderson & Obenshain, 1999, p. 757). There is probably no other possible and convenient way of achieving this objective other than incorporating computer communication network in the curriculum of medicine schools.
Commenting on the same, Koschmann had earlier suggested in 1995 that, “students should learn about computers, learn through computers, and learn through computers” (Koschmann, 1995, p. 818). This suggestion has happened; students are contemporarily learning with computers as exposited next.
The place of computer communication in medicine schools has shifted from knowing about computers to learning with computers as aforementioned. A paper written by Seghieri, Dussert, Palmari, Berthois, Martin, and Penel in 1997, shows how far computer usage has gone in medicine schools.
These authors designed software to “simulate the calcium signal following hormone or growth factor stimulation in epithelial cells” Seghieri, et al, 1997, p. 1). This is a basic illustration of the direction being taken by computer usage in medical schools.
Computers have become useful tools in studies. Even though ten years ago computer usage in research was solely based in research institutions, this phenomenon is gradually changing and computer usage is finding its way into classrooms and lecture theatres. The future of medicine lies in nano-science and bioinformatics through computer world and the humble beginning of computer communication network in medicine schools forms the basis of this exciting future, notes Koschmann (1995. P. 819).
Finally, a high-level committee formed in 2003 to look into health telematics cited the need to integrate a solid computer communication network in medicine schools.
Even though this committee agreed with the improved utilization of computer communication network in different medicine schools, it cited some shortcomings in the full utilization of the same because medicine schools have failed to produce professionals who can fit in the contemporary ever-changing needs in the field of medicine (High Level Committee on Health, 2003, p. 6).
This study implies that even though the current utilization of computer communication networks in medicine schools is recommendable, there remains a lot to be done to match health needs in society, which underline the reason why medical students are in school.
Analysis of these Literature Reviews
There are several common factors in all these research papers reviewed here. The most outstanding factor is that computer communication network has been extensively applied in medicine schools. Authors of these papers note many medicine schools have made it a requirement for every incoming student to have a computer.
These authors also insinuate that the future of medicine lies in incorporation of computer communication in studies. Currently, computer communication network has made learning fun and easy given the fact that peer-reviewed information is now readily available in the internet. This satiates the urge for more information and provides students with rich source of invaluable information in medicine.
Based on what Koschmann had foreseen in 1995 that students have to learn about, through, and with computers, most researchers agree this has been achieved in contemporary times. More than fifteen years after Koschmann’s observation, students are currently learning not only through computers, but also with computers. Nevertheless, researchers seem to disagree on some issues.
While many researchers do not deny the inevitability of integrating computer communication in medicine school, some differ on the mode of implementation of the same. Platt, Anderson, and Obenshain (1999), note that while most medical schools have made it compulsory for incoming to have a computer, there is no formal training offered to prepare students for meaningful use of these computers (759).
On the other side, other researchers argue that the integration of computer communication in medicine schools is a leap jump towards future medicine with formal training or not. This issue boils down to the objective behind the introduction of such systems in medicine schools.
The biggest question remains whether the introduction of computer communication network in medicine schools is to prepare the platform for future medicine or the future is now.
This draws to attention the observation by the High Level Committee on Health, which noted that the present breed of medical students is not fully armed to meet the ever-changing health needs in society tied to technological advancement. On the other hand, there is the question of challenges facing computer communication network in medicine school.
The biggest problem facing use of computer communication network in medicine schools is the issue of security. “Viruses, worms, and other malicious programs coupled with privacy matters pose the greatest use to computers in the 21st Century” (Boeckeler, 2004). This remains as one of the unresolved challenges in computer communication network in medicine schools and in all other areas of computer use.
Some people have deliberately chosen to harm computer users by spreading malware to interfere with smooth communication over computers. Boeckeler (2004) fears that, “some people are very skilled and patient and it would very difficult to stop them from harming computer and internet users.” The other challenge is the issue of insufficient training to prepare students to use computer communication network in schools.
Finally, research points out that computer prices are still prohibitive and this poses a big challenge to students who come from average families. Nevertheless, there is hope to overcome these challenges with future research set to address some of them like cyber security. Future research has to look into how students could be trained formally to utilize computer communication network to meet the health needs of society.
Computer communication network has been applied extensively in most medicine schools. Researches indicate most medicine schools have made it an admission requirement for any incoming student to have a computer. This implies that; most, if not all students have access to computer communication network in medicine schools. This form of communication allows students to exchange and access invaluable contemporary information over the internet via their computers.
Online information makes learning fun and easy for in most cases students have hunger for information that cannot be satiated by tutors principally. The future of medicine schools lies on efficient use of computer communication to explore areas like nano-science and bioinformatics among others.
Nevertheless, researchers fail to agree on the mode of implementation of this computer communication network in medicine schools with some holding the view that the implementation process is vague. Security and privacy issues in computer usage pose great challenge in computer communication usage; however, future research can address that.
Boeckeler, M. (2004). Overview of Security Issues Facing Computer Users. SANS Institute.
Bulu, M. (2009). Use of Information and Communication Technology by Medical Students: A Survey of VSS Medical College, Burla, India. Retrieved June 10, 2010, From, High Level Committee on Health. (2003). Health Telematics Working Group of the High Level Committee on Health. European Commission; Directorate G – Public Health. Koschmann, T. (1995). Medical Education and Computer Literacy: Learning About, Through, And With Computers. Acad Med. 70(1); 818-21 Ostbye, T. (2006). Computer Communication for International Collaboration in Education In Public Health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 670(2); 49-49 Platt, M., Anderson, W., & Obenshain, S. (1999). Use of Student-Centered, Computer-Mediated Communication To Enhance The Medical School Curriculum. Medical Education. 33(1); 757-761 Seghieri, P., Dussert, C., Palmari, J., Berthois, Y., Martin, P., & Penel, C. (1997). A Minimal Model for Calcium Signal Generated By Tyrosine Kinase and G Protein Linked Receptors; A Stochastic Computer Simulation With CALSIM. International Journal Of Medical Informatics. 46(1); 53-65
High Level Committee on Health. (2003). Health Telematics Working Group of the High Level Committee on Health. European Commission; Directorate G – Public Health.
Koschmann, T. (1995). Medical Education and Computer Literacy: Learning About, Through, And With Computers. Acad Med. 70(1); 818-21
Ostbye, T. (2006). Computer Communication for International Collaboration in Education In Public Health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 670(2); 49-49
Platt, M., Anderson, W., & Obenshain, S. (1999). Use of Student-Centered, Computer-Mediated Communication To Enhance The Medical School Curriculum. Medical Education. 33(1); 757-761
Seghieri, P., Dussert, C., Palmari, J., Berthois, Y., Martin, P., & Penel, C. (1997). A Minimal Model for Calcium Signal Generated By Tyrosine Kinase and G Protein Linked Receptors; A Stochastic Computer Simulation With CALSIM. International Journal Of Medical Informatics. 46(1); 53-65