Histology and Histopathology
Idea of the project
Addressing digital transformation through development of digital readiness, resilience and capacity.
Contributing to innovation in vocational education and training.
Increasing the flexibility of opportunities in vocational education and training.
Digital histology and pathology innovation and implementation in medical education have opened the perspectives for a significant shift in the design of the medical curriculum. The new technology of virtual microscopy has been recently demonstrated as a reliable and valid pedagogy method for histology and histopathology learning objectives and assessments. The current trend of digital histology and pathology or telepathology has brought educators closer to the goal of achieving specific competences. This project would set a practical guide and steps to follow in order to achieve a cost-effective implementation and the successful use of virtual microscopy (VM) technology to improve the histology and histopathology curriculum in our medical schools. Whole Slide Imaging (WSI) technique is using the tools of modern slide scanners and VM software. WSI involves digitization of glass slides to a high-resolution format, which can be easily viewed using specialized VM software on a handheld tablet devices or a computer/laptop, without the necessity to use a microscope for the examiners. This technology becomes more valuable as the pandemic has forced educational programs, including Medicine undergraduate and postgraduate students (pathology residency), to move to a physically distanced learning environment.
Light microscopy sharing examination, in which the teacher/professor stands close by the student and they alternatively examine the slides, using the same microscope, along with tandem microscopic review or “double-scoping” of histology and pathology slides have represented traditional cornerstone of microscopy education. However, these methods require a close proximity of educator and students which is not amenable to physical distancing. The loss of these classical methods has forced educational innovation in order to continue teaching microscopy. Alternatively, a shift toward teaching via VM provides a readily available, physically distanced, and cost-conscious alternative for microscopy education.
This project will establish a dynamic virtual microscopy educational system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, utilizing readily available technology in the histology department of a major academic medical center.
Whole slide imaging (WSI) has emerged as the digital pathology platform of choice for teaching in recent years. WSI imaging has utility in both undergraduate and graduate medical education, primarily by leveraging stored teaching libraries, study sets, and individual cases to enhance didactic teaching, to monitor acquisition of new skills (e.g., stain interpretation), and to assess competency through slide examination/testing.
The limitations of the use of this technology as an educational tool are the considerable upfront costs associated with implementing WSI technology and its associated storage requirements.
VM in undergraduate and postgraduate histology and histopathology education promotes various integrated active learning and discussion activities during lectures and laboratory sessions. It may also be used in the field of cytology, hematology, continuing medical education (CME), delivering of research journal content, conferences, scientific meetings, multidisciplinary consultation groups, and exam sessions.
The use of VM has been already demonstrated to enhance students‘ learning and overall performance in a more clinically oriented and dynamic learning environment, being highly accepted and adopted by several medical schools across the globe. Several Medical Programs around the world have adopted the VM to compliment the effectiveness of competency based education in medical education. Digital pathology has paved a path to address some of the core competencies and collaborative models in various medical education programs. Therefore, it is imperative that medical students become proficient in VM applications. The project will establish the steps necessary for this transition for a medical school.
Existing technology may not be initially optimized for a dynamic virtual experience, resulting in lag time with image movement, problems of focusing, image quality issues, and a narrower field of view; however, these technological barriers can be overcome through hardware and software optimization.