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Dalhousie grad creates new way of teaching millennial med student

Website inspired by students scrolling social media in class

Dr. Sanjay Sharma, a retina specialist and professor at Queen’s University, recently launched a website designed for medical school students and practicing physicians to learn the basics of clinical medicine.

Two years in the making, contains over 100 teaching modules. “The lessons are available anytime you want to consume it, anywhere on any platform,” says Sharma, a Dalhousie graduate from the class of  ’87.

Sharma met with various student focus groups to review content, finally settling on each module consisting of a two-minute whiteboard animation, a 1,000 word summary and a 15 minute lecture.

The content is based on the learning objectives that have been created by the Medical Council of Canada.

Nearly 200 award-winning professors from North American medical schools contributed to the site, and they have another 100 modules planned for the near future.

And, it’s all free.

Hundreds of students and faculty members were interviewed on what content they’d like to see on the site. officially launched on Sept. 20, but has been running for five weeks to get feedback on usability. During that time, students from over 50 universities registered.

So, how did Sharma get the idea?

“It’s sort of a funny story,” he says. Sharma recalls there was one particular day he noticed his students quickly tuning out of a lecture on acute visual loss, scrolling through Facebook and Instagram instead.

That same day, he went home to find his son had created an impressive painting, thanks to a YouTube tutorial. This is when he realized that there had to be a better way to reach the millennial student.

“It became pretty clear to me that the next generation fundamentally learned differently from others before it, and to reach them the current system had to be redesigned,” he says. “Why are we adhering to a system, one that is based on the one hour didactic lecture, that was developed decades ago?”

Sharma says he thinks there are three key benefits to the site: top-notch teachers, an engaging audio-visual format and always-accessible material targeted for everyone.

“In many medical schools, there is a human resource crisis,” he says. “Many physicians are becoming overwhelmed with patient care, largely driven by the increased demand as the baby boom generation ages. Given this, it is becoming harder to get high-quality clinicians who have the time to teach.”

This is where becomes even more useful.

Sharma says he sees a future where students will learn core material through platforms like, and lectures will be redefined to be more discussion-based, with added value.

“I think that anyone at Dal who is also considering a career in a health-related discipline, including medicine, should have a look at,” he says.

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Alexandra Conway

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