Computer programs for microbiology training and continuing education.
Computer programs for microbiology training and
Using CAI, a technologist can encounter the unusual. Although we do not have the time or facilities
in our student labs to handle rarely isolated or highly infectious/dangerous organisms, for example,
students need to learn about them. Computer-simulated identification has been our solution.
Similarly, while clinical laboratories have proper facilities for handling dangerous organisms,
laboratory personnel rarely have the opportunity to work with the likes of Brucella
BrucellaÂ /BruÂ·celÂ·la/ (broo-selÂ´ah) a genus of schizomycetes (family Brucellaceae). B. aborÂ´tus
causes infectious abortion in cattle and is the most common cause of brucellosis in humans. B. Â sp.
or Yersinia pestis Yersinia pesÂ·tis
A bacterium that causes plague and is transmitted from rats to humans by the rat flea Xenopsylla
cheopis. Also called Pasteurella pestis. . Yet they are expected to handle such microorganisms
correctly should the need arise. Simulations can provide intellectual and theoretical experience with
rare and/or hazardous pathogens, giving the technologist added confidence and skill.
The Microbiology Laboratory Simulation programs present the user with enough information to get
started in the process of bacterial identification. A typical example of the laboratory data that first
appear on the screen is the culture and Gram stain gram stain
Computer simulations eliminate the wait for results. The user chooses tests and interprets
biochemical patterns for numerous slow-growing organisms in a short time. For technologists who
seldom work with anaerobes, mycobacteria mycobacteria
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.
All too often, scheduling and fiscal constraints make it difficult for laboratories to send personnel to
educational meetings. As a result, on-site education has increasingly become a necessity.
Unfortunately, in some settings, such opportunities are limited. Computer-assisted instruction
see opportunist (atypical) mycobacteria (below).
cattle herds which have achieved a low level of reactors to, e.g. Â if they meet the guidelines
established by the Council on the CE Unit, Silver Spring, Md. Because computer-assisted instruction
is regarded as self-instructional, it must be accompanied by a mechanism of evaluation to be
accredited for CE units. The usual means of evaluation is a post test, either incorporated into the
computer program or as a hard copy accompanying the CAI.
The result of our efforts is a series of five instructional programs that we call Microbiology
Laboratory Simulations (available through Warlock Productions, Inc., Hanover, N.H.). These
programs simulate the decision-making process in bacterial identification. We have found that using
these simulations sharpens our students' cognitive skills cognitive skillÂ Psychology Any of a number
of acquired skills that reflect an individual's ability to think; CSs include verbal and spatial abilities,
and have a significant hereditary component Â in microbiology. Our experience suggests that
programs of this nature could serve as effective CE tools for laboratory personnel.
With the availability of more and better CAI, potential users of instructional computer programs
should be able to choose products that are best suited to their needs. Peer review of educational
software is now beginning to appear in professional publications, such as American Society for
Microbiology News. Demonstration disks may be available from some publishers at a nominal
[paragraph] Tutorials. are instructional packages designed to help the user acquire information,
much like a textbook or review article. They may engage the user with questions or may challenge
the user to apply the knowledge that has just been learned by working through a series of short
recognition by an appropriate authority that the performance of a particular institution has satisfied
a prestated set of criteria.
(2) See CA.
see opportunist (atypical) mycobacteria (below).
Dr. Hilger is associate professor of clinical laboratory science and Dr. Burford is associate professor
of pharmacology pharmacology,Â study of the changes produced in living animals by chemical
substances, especially the actions of drugs, substances used to treat disease. Systematic
investigation of the effects of drugs based on animal experimentation and the use of isolated and
Â and pharmacy, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Medical School. Schell is technical
director of the Medical Mycology Medical mycology
(2) (lower case "w") Also called a "windowing environment," it refers to any software that provides
multiple windows on screen such as Windows, Mac, Motif and X Window. .
It has become an accepted principle that all laboratory technologists should participate in
continuing education continuing education:Â see adult education.
Whatever their format, laboratory CE programs can be accredited accredited
CAI - Computer-Aided Instruction ) for CE and training supplementation within the laboratory is one
effective solution. * Formats. CAI is available in three common formats: drills, tutorials, and
[paragraph] Drills. The most common drill format consists of a series of questions and answers,
usually accompanied by feedback for each question.
, or other organisms that are slow growing or otherwise difficult to identify, simulations can provide
a rapid, efficient, and effective means of keeping the concepts fresh in mind.
Of great importance from a functional and a management standpoint is the documentation provided
by the computer. Most laboratories must undergo accreditation inspection by the CAP and/or state
agencies. Inspectors may mash to review records of CE activities of lab personnel. When properly
integrated into an accredited continuing education program, computer-assisted instruction can help
meet this need. The computer printout (PRINTer OUTput) Same as hard copy. Â from a CAI program
can contain the number of hours and the level of performance (satisfactory or not) of each member
of the laboratory team. Documentation of this sort also can be useful in annual performance
appraisals Performance appraisal, also known as employee appraisal, is a method by which the
performance of an employee is evaluated (generally in terms of quality, quantity, cost and time). Â of
laboratory personnel. * Cost saving. The last major advantage of CAI is its cost effectiveness. In
these difficult economic times, emphasis on efficiency continues to build. Because virtually every
laboratory now has personal computers available, and no travel or subsistence monies are needed,
the only expense is the purchase price of the software. CAI programs range in price from about $75
to over $200. At those prices they can be considered highly cost-effective, especially when used by
several staff members.
Â or adult education
Interest in clinical simulations and tutorials is rapidly growing. All clinical laboratories and schools
of medical technology should consider the advantages of adding CAI to their continuing education
and training programs.
The study of fungi (molds and yeasts) that cause human disease. Fungal infections are classified
according to the site of infection on the body or whether an opportunistic setting is necessary to
establish disease. Â Research Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
Results are given for the battery of tests selected. At that point the user can either attempt to
identify the organism or request additional tests until identification becomes possible. If an incorrect
ID is made, the user has three options: to make another ID choice, to return to the "lab" and run
more tests, or to ask for help. Once the microorganism microorganismÂ /miÂ·croÂ·orÂ·ganÂ·ism/ (-
orÂ´gah-nizm) a microscopic organism; those of medical interest include bacteria, fungi, and
protozoa. Â has been identified correctly, a short optional tutorial describes the diseases eases
caused by that microorganism and lists the laboratory tests needed for identification.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the
Finally, on request, the computer prints the results of the exercise, including the name of the
organism; the tests chosen by the user, grouped chronologically; any incorrect guesses made; and
whether the computer assisted in making the identification (Figure II). * Clear thinking. Programs
such as these provide an opportunity to think through laboratory problems. Unlike textbooks,
computer programs actively engage the user. CAI demands responses, so that the user becomes an
active learner. An attractive feature is near-instantaneous feedback. In some clinical labs, feedback
on regular work is painfully slow in coming. In classic mycobacteriology, for example, complete ID of
an isolate may take three to six weeks. It can be hard for a beginner or someone who rarely
performs such a task to maintain continuity of thought for so long.
[paragraph] Simulations. Simulations emphasize the application of knowledge by placing the user in
a hypothetical laboratory situation and presenting problems of an everyday or special nature.
Because simulations emphasize the application rather than the acquisition of knowledge, users
usually cannot work through them competently without prior understanding of the material.
Simulations place learners in a problem-solving mode. This realistic mental exercise engages them
interactively. * Wide range. More CAI is available than ever before. Educational computer programs
appropriate for clinical laboratorians are available from several commercial publishing houses,
including Williams & Wilkins in Baltimore and C.V. Mosby in St. Louis; independent software
publishers, such as REMS Software in Montclair, N.J.; and some professional societies, including the
American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP ASCPÂ American Society of Clinical Pathologists. ),
American Society for Medical Technology (ASMT ASMT American Society of Medical Technologists
ASMT Association Suisse des Managers en Tourisme
ASMT Automatic Safety Monitoring Tool (air traffic management)
ASMT Associazione Svizzera dei Managers del Turismo ), and American Society for Microbiology
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is a scientific organization, based in the United States
although with over 43,000 members throughout the world. It is the largest single life science
professional organization and its members include those whose interests encompass basic Â (ASM
(1) (Association for Systems Management) An international membership organization based in
Cleveland, Ohio. Founded in 1947 and disbanded in 1996, it sponsored conferences in all phases of
administrative systems and management. ).
Any form of learning provided for adults. In the U.S. the University of Wisconsin was the first
academic institution to offer such programs (1904). Â (CE), not only for intellectual stimulation but
also to maintain competence in rapidly advancing fields, to gain knowledge in unfamiliar areas, and
in some cases (as with the National Certification national certificationÂ Lab medicine A voluntary
form of regulation that affirms that a person has the knowledge and skill to perform essential tasks
in a given field, in the lab or in nursing; NC is granted by nongovernmental agencies or associations
with Â Agency for Medical Laboratory Personnel) to maintain licensure.
Use of instructional material presented by a computer. Since the advent of microcomputers in the
1970s, computer use in schools has become widespread, from primary schools through the
university level and in some preschool programs. Â (CAI (1) (Computer-Assisted Instruction) Same
members of the genus Mycobacterium.
(1.) Billings, D.M. "Computer Assisted Instruction for Health Professionals." Norwalk, Conn.,
Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1986. (2.) Venezky, R.L. "The Intelligent Design of Computer-assisted
Instruction." New York New York, state, United States
New York,Â Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario
and the Canadian province of , Longman, 1991. (3.) Alessi, S.M. "Computer-based Instruction:
Methods and Development," 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice Hall Prentice Hall is a leading
educational publisher. It is an imprint of Pearson Education, Inc., based in Upper Saddle River, New
Jersey, USA. Prentice Hall publishes print and digital content for the 6-12 and higher education
In 1913, law professor Dr. , 1991.
Several years ago, amid shrinking budgets, we undertook to create computer simulations that would
help our students practice identifying bacteria. We consulted several excellent sources that describe
the components of effective CAI.(1-3) It is essential to begin with a well-organized plan - that is, to
know precisely what one wants the computer to do. About 65% of the effort is made before any
programming is begun. The computer work can be done in a variety of ways, such as with a
programming language (e.g., BASIC or C+ +) or by using one of the many authoring platforms on
the market. An example is Toolbook (Asymetrix, Bellevue, Wash.), a software construction kit that
operates only in the Windows environment (1) (upper case "W") Refers to computers running under
a Microsoft Windows operating system.
Staining technique for the initial identification of bacteria, devised in 1884 by the Danish physician
Hans Christian Gram (1853-1938). The stain reveals basic differences in the biochemical and
structural properties of a living cell. Â results shown in Figure I. The user is asked to consider the
data provided and choose the appropriate tests to begin bacterial identification.