Sunday, March 29, 2015

Timelines to represent the history of medicine

"Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it"

Understanding the history is critical to comprehending the current status of any political situation.  Thus one cannot even being to come to grips with the situation in the Middle East or in Nigeria without knowing how we got here.

The same holds true for medicine.  Using history helps teach our students about various complex  therapies like antibiotics, anti-lipid medications etc.

Thus whenever there is a situation what is difficult to grasp, studying the history of how we got here helps to understand it.  The fact that >90 years after the discovery of insulin by Banting and Bates this critical medication is still not available off patent is almost unbelievable.

An article in the NEJM highlights this by tracing the history of the various forms of insulin to clarify the current situation.

A timeline makes this easier to follow.  Making the timeline took less than 5 min on a free tool called Dipity.  It allows for addition of images or video and can be shared to encourage discussion.
Explore the timeline embedded below by clicking on blurbs or zooming in and out.

Getting students to work collaboratively to create timelines of major therapeutic advances in key areas of medicine can help them build a deeper understanding of the subject.  It can help them identify potential areas for research and quickly digest newer advances as they occur, by recognizing their place in history.

We know that we learn by doing, and thus, we should encourage students to create these timelines rather than just view timelines created by others.

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