IY Speaker Spotlight: Robert Camp - School of Medicine / by Mike Garcia

Dr. Robert Camp, of the Yale School of Medicine, focuses on, “promoting the role of pathology as a central component in the teaching of medical students.” While the nature of pathology is seen as antiquated to some in the medical profession, leading to the thought that it should be abandoned in modern medical training, Dr. Camp disagrees. He believes this learning still plays a central role in the education of medical students and enhances their abilities as physicians.

There is a unique difference in teaching pathology versus other areas of medicine. As Dr. Camp describes, “Today, much of medical education is based on linear learning -- students memorize facts and review standard case studies in a predetermined fashion. Students learn to associate patient symptoms with a corresponding diagnosis and ultimately the underlying pathology. Pathology, by contrast, teaches medicine in reverse. We encourage students to compare and contrast the pathology of different diseases across a variety of modalities (e.g., microscope slides, whole organs, x-rays, epidemiological maps, molecular diagnostic techniques) and, ultimately, help them learn to recognize patterns and render diagnoses based on what they see.”

However, Dr. Camp found that the traditional method of teaching students in pathology was ineffective. Historically, it has been taught through microscope observations of tissue slides and students describing what they saw to a professor. Technology advanced this format to images displayed on projector screens and PowerPoint presentations. Unfortunately, this practice changed the learning experience significantly and caused students to focus on a screen over interacting with their professors.

Years ago, Dr. Camp explored different methods to improve pathology education at Yale. Knowing that there must be another piece of technology to promote student-professor interaction he developed an interactive, web-based module for teaching pathology. This new method utilizes the student's iPad and the school's computers. Dr. Camp has found his new tools facilitates, “a ‘back to the future’ approach to medical education. They expose students to visual content and encourage interactions among themselves and with the professor. My hope is that I can bring this new way of teaching to more and more students in the years ahead.”