Computer Skills Among Medical Learners: A survey at King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah
Department of Histopathology, King Abdul Aziz University Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
We conducted a survey at King Abdul Aziz University to assess computer and
Internet related activities, needs, and attitudes of our medical students
towards computer assisted medical learning. Methods:
A questionnaire containing 16 questions was distributed among medical
students. The question form was prepared to assess the computer skills among
students and their involvement in computer and Internet assisted medical and
clinical learning activities. Each question was followed by a four or five
points containing Likert-type multiple choice answer. Results:
A total of 303 medical member of the university filled the forms. Among them
majorities were medical students constituting 247 (81.5%), 10 (3.3%) were
interns, 9 (3%) residents and 36 (11.9%) were senior residents. 55% of the
responders were male and 45% were females. The most important points with
their brief responses are: Computer skills: 6.3% Not aware; 93.7% Aware.
Purpose of using computer: Personal 62.5%; Professional 15%; Academic 21.9%.
Software(s) used: MS office 9.4%; MS Office and Internet 31.3%; MS Office,
Internet and any medical software 37%; No software 21%. Connecting to Internet
or Email: Not at all 18 %; Rarely 18%; Once a week 15%; Every alternate day
25%; Daily 12.5%; Multiple times a day 9.4%. Use of Internet for medical
learning: Not at all 22%; Very rarely 22%; Some times 41%; Regularly 15%.
Computers and Internet can improve studies and professional skills: No not at
all 6%; Yes, to some extent 41%; Yes, too much 53%. Conclusion:
The use of modern computer and Internet technology will result in more
effective medical education. Expansion of computer-assisted learning requires
careful strategic planning, resource sharing, staff incentives, and active
promotion of multidisciplinary working and effective quality control.
Keywords: Computer skills among medical students, computer
assisted learning, Continuous medical education CME.
It is becoming ‘a truth universally
acknowledged’ that the medical education of medical students and doctors
will be enhanced through the use of computer assisted learning1.
Access to the wide range of online information and options must
surely make learning more exciting, effective, and likely to be
technologies can support a wide range of learning activities, which engage
students in a continuous collaborative process of building and
reshaping understanding. Computer assisted learning is now to be widely
anticipated. Now individual lecturers and departments are already beginning to
introduce a wide range of computer based applications, sometimes in a
haphazard way. Planned and coordinated development is better than
indiscriminate expansion1. It is convenient and flexible and
courses supported by computer assisted learning applications may require fewer
face-to-face lectures and seminars and place fewer geographical and temporal
constraints on staff and students. Students at distance and less benefited
areas like peripheral hospitals or primary care centers may benefit in
particular. The unique presentational benefits of computer presentation are
particularly suited to subjects that are visually intensive, detail oriented,
and difficult to conceptualize, such as complex biochemical processes or
microscopic images2. Furthermore, ‘virtual’ cases
may reduce the need to use animal or human tissue in learning. Use of computer
and Internet for medical learning has made learning a more personalized
learning. Each learner can progress at his or her preferred pace. They can
repeat, interrupt, and resume at will, which may have particular advantages
for weaker students. It is more economical if properly utilized. Once an
application has been set up, the incremental cost of offering it to additional
students is relatively small1.
lot of such surveys have been published in literature from West by large
universities and most medical organizations in an attempt to assess the use of
computer and needs for doctors3-5.
Although our survey is on smaller scale, but it will help to give us
some idea about this important issue among our medical students and to improve
our learning facilities more effectively.
A sixteen questions-containing
multiple-choice questioner was distributed among medical learners (students,
interns and residents). The question form was prepared to assess the computer
skills among students and their involvement in computer and Internet assisted
medical and clinical learning activities. All 16 questions were related to
computer or Internet use and needs. Each question was followed by a four or
five points containing Likert-type multiple choice answer format (usually four
or five point scale). A mention about the confidentiality of the data was
expressed in the question forms. A total of 303 medical members from the
university filled the question forms. These 303 question forms were analyzed
by SPSS statistical software.
A total of 303 medical members of the
university filled the question forms. Among them majority were medical
students constituting 247 (81.5%), while 10 (3.3%) were interns, 9 (3%)
residents and 36 (11.9%) were senior residents. 55% of the responders were
male and 45% females.
Answers with the
questions are mentioned below number wise: [1: What is your present status
(position) in hospital? (Medical student 81.5%); (residents 3.3%); (general
physicians 3%); (Consultants 11.9%)]. [2: What is your approximate age?
(10–19= 0%); (20–30= 90.8%); (30–40= 5.9%); (40–50= 3%)].
[3: How will you rate your computer skills? (6.3% Not aware at all);
(43.8 Beginner); (46.9% Average); (3.1% Expert)]. [4: Do you have computer at
your residence? (Do not have computer 18.8%); (Have computer at home 71.9%);
(Have at home and clinic 6.3%); (Have only at clinic 3.1%)]. [5: How many
times do you sit on your computer? (Not at all 3%); (Rarely by chance 31.3%);
(Once a week 12.5%); (every alternate day 28.1%); (Daily 15.6%); (Multiple
times a day 9.4%)]. [6: For what purpose do you use your computer? (Personal
62.5%); (Professional 15%); (Academic and education 21.9%)]. [7: Which
software/s do you use? (Only daily use MS office applications 9.4%); (MS
Office and Internet 31.3%); (MS Office, Internet and any medical software
37%); (No software 21%)]. [8: How many times do you connect to Internet or
Email? (Not at all 18 %); (Rarely by chance 18%); (Once a week 15%); (Every
alternate day 25%); (Daily 12.5%); (Multiple times a day 9.4%)] [9: Do you use
Internet or Email for any medical purpose? (No, only personal use 37%); (Yes,
Medical and personal use 63%)]. [10: Do you use Internet for your studies
and/or clinical learning? (Not at all 22%); (Very rarely 22%); (Some times but
not regularly 41%); (Regularly 15%)]. [11: Do you think it is necessary to
learn high computer skills during medical education? (Yes, must 93.4%); (No,
not necessary 0%); (no answer 6.3%)]. [12: On which computer subject do you
especially like to increase your computer skill and knowledge? (General
computer skills 12.5%); (Hospital medical record and administrative
applications 3%); (Internet related skills 6.3%); (All of the above 78.1%)].
[13: What are your concerns about Internet? (No idea and no concerns 25%);
(About security and viruses 15%); (About accuracy of information 31%); (About
confidentiality 3%); (Time consuming and lack of time 25%)].
[14: Do you think computers and Internet can improve your studies and
professional skills? (No not at all 6%); (Yes, to some extent 41%); (Yes, too
much 53%)]. [15: Since how long you have acquired basic computer skills?
(Since my school period 27.7%); (Within last one year 9.6%); (Within last five
years 52.5%)]. [16: What is your gender? (1: male 55%); (female 45%)].
have penetrated into every nook and corner of medicine. Internet is
explosively developing as information superhighway that has provided huge
amount of information on fingertips. It is now becoming a well known thing
that the medical education of medical students and doctors will be enhanced
through the use of computer-assisted learning. With the help of it
we can achieve the ultimate goal of higher education and effective learning.
Computer applications, especially the Internet and World Wide Web, are an
extremely efficient way of rapid and effective learning4.
A large number of such
surveys have been conducted among medical learners and practitioners. For
example a huge survey conducted by American College of Internal Medicine
showed that the majority of physician respondents (82%) use computers5.
Most physicians connected to the Internet from home, but fewer from their
offices. About two thirds of respondents connected to the Internet from home
or the office on a daily or weekly basis. Finding time to connect to the
Internet was problematic, and concerns were expressed about the accuracy,
security, and confidentiality of information on the Internet. Knowing what is
available on the Internet is also important to members. Physicians younger
than 50 years old reported greater use of computers, especially if they had
academic affiliations5. In the future, with the introduction of
very fast wired (cable and telephone) and wireless communication, there may be
greater integration of these services and information sources into the
clinical workflow. If so, more physicians will use the Internet from their
home and office on a more regular basis. Finding time to use the Internet will
continue to be problematic for the busy physician, but the security and
confidentiality of information on the Internet are currently being addressed
with Federal regulations. Assuring the accuracy of information on the Internet
and informing physicians about medical Web sources will be an opportunity and
a challenge for medical organizations. The American College of Physician
survey revealed that physicians used computers in professional settings,
especially in the office, for administrative functions of billing, accounting,
and scheduling appointments5. Fewer than 25% of physicians reported
using computer applications for clinical management of patients, and the
frequency of such use was low. Physician respondents rarely used computers at
the point of care for medical information on a regular basis. Perhaps there is
an unwillingness of physicians to sacrifice any more of their precious but
limited time allotted for face-to-face patient contact. At home, the majority
of physicians reported using computers for personal e-mail on a regular basis.
They use computers to seek non-medical information, but rarely use computers
for Continuing Medical Education5.
the future, most physicians will continue to use computers in the office for
administrative functions. With increasing use of Electronic Medical Record
systems and more monitoring of physician performance, there may be incentive
to use computers to manage patients in the professional setting. At home,
physicians will continue to use personal e-mail and seek non-medical
information. Physicians rated their own computer skills as average and were
not satisfied with their computer expertise. Physicians believe that it is
very important to develop their computer skills to increase their efficiency
and effectiveness in the future. This represents a great opportunity for
medical organizations to help physicians increase their computer knowledge
through a variety of learning formats. Physicians continue to want the
delivery of new medical knowledge by printed material and CD-ROM products.
Physicians wanted to increase their computer skills and use information
technologies to enhance their clinical practice. Physicians reported a desire
to learn about current general computer applications, new uses of
telemedicine, including e-mail with colleagues, staff, and patients, and
general Internet issues. Physicians also reported a need to increase their
knowledge of computer-based information sources of patient care through use of
EMR systems, electronic medical books and journals, electronic clinical
guidelines, and electronic sources of CME5.
The more wider use of modern computer and internet technology will result in reduced funding, rising student numbers, geographical dispersal, and the current increased competition in a complex global market have put medical schools under pressure to embrace computer assisted learning1,2. New technologies may have important educational advantages, but without support and training for staff and students they could prove an expensive disaster1. Expansion of computer-assisted learning requires cultural change as well as careful strategic planning, resource sharing, staff incentives, active promotion of multidisciplinary working, and effective quality control.
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for Correspondence and reprint requests:
Dr. Ibrahim Mansoor, C/o Mansoor Ali, P.O.Box: 1432, Jeddah – 21431, Saudi Arabia