Family Medicine Study Guide: “Teaching Outside the Box”

Family Medicine Study Guide

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to the days of pen and paper, backpacks filled with heavy textbooks and early morning lectures strictly presented on slides. Students have changed. Their needs have changed. And we, as teachers must change too. 

Learning is now in a constant state of flux. With a simple click, students have access to countless presentations with highly decorated speakers, entertaining videos, and innumerable teaching materials to complement their learning experience. No wonder students are no longer satisfied with traditional learning methods. They have accessed another world having tasted what is different and they like it. Students don’t want to simply ingest information that is presented to them, they want something unique and enjoyable. They want experiences to help them comprehend, give them feedback, and that show the relevance in their educational journey. And in this fast paced world, they want it using portable, effective tools that they can access on their own time. Education has become an “all you can eat buffet” and we as teachers must now compete to serve up a unique, yet nutritious meal of educational “tid bits”. 

With this approach in mind, the Family Medicine Study Guide app was launched in 2017. Its simple philosophy: effective teaching must involve active and experiential learning which can be achieved outside the confines of the regular classroom. The app adopts a “learn on the go” methodology and teaches students using a direct to consumer approach. Using various teaching methods on a unique educational platform increases user accessibility, enhances knowledge, and improves overall health literacy. Within the app, these modalities include short answer management problems, clinical pearls, rapid fire questions, quick pics of dermatology, crash courses, mini podcasts and mini exams. These educational formats were written by physicians, for physicians, and offer real world clinical scenarios with tips and tricks to remember key clinical information, a focus on improving dermatological skills, practising spontaneous recall and enhancing the ability to commit to answers.

The Family Medicine Study Guide was the first dedicated primary care app of its kind in Canada. To date, it has had over 15,000 downloads in over 105 countries, and has been the focus of a multi-centre, double blind national research study between Western and McGill Universities on spaced education. It has also been the recipient of numerous innovation, educational and research grants. The Family Medicine Study Guide is unique in that it not only provides a forum for students and residents to prepare for future exams, but it offers continuing education for physicians and allied health professionals. The app offers up to 5 Mainpro+ Credits that are available to access at anytime that is convenient for the user. With its updated guidelines and best practices, seasoned physicians can also use it as a reference tool for their own medical practice.

From the beginning, this charitable educational project has been branded as a “Learn & Give Back” initiative. This motto is based on the belief that family physicians and allied health professionals strengthen our local communities, that we can have an impact on an international level, and that we all have a responsibility in this world to assist those less fortunate and in need. Consequently, the Family Medicine Study Guide was created as a non-profit project. One hundred percent of the app’s profits are donated to various charities around the world. To date, donations have been made to support access to childhood education in Tanzania, as well as supporting families in India. Its primary partnership is with Save a Family Plan : A Canadian-based non-profit that assists impoverished families in India to become strong, self-sufficient and empowered through developing their own businesses and learning life skills. As of January 1, 2022, the Family Medicine Study Guide has donated $63,361, supporting 55 families or 179 individuals in India and Africa, which translates into 2940 months of financial support.

In the last five years, Family Medicine Study Guide has become one of the top rated medical apps in Canada. This confirms not only its value to users, but that more than ever there is a need for educational methods that are original and “outside of the box” for the evolving learner. The educational life cycle may be turning a chapter on the past but the new chapter that awaits is full of innovative possibilities. The buffet is open. So grab a plate, get creative and dive-in.