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Core Curriculum in Adult Primary Care Series: Gastroenterology
  1. R Jones

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This CD, which was extremely difficult to unwrap, is aimed at primary care physicians in the USA, and is part of a fairly comprehensive set of learning materials produced by an organisation called Core Curriculum. The CDs are all based on lectures given by clinicians from in and around Boston and each consists of an audio recording of a four hour session of four lectures, backed up by a transcript of the lectures and by graphics. The gastroenterology CD covers irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), coeliac disease and lactose intolerance, and advances in upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy and in the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. The graphics change at the rate of about one per minute and the entire CD is readily navigable and also searchable. The programme concludes with a CME quiz for accreditation purposes.

I found the material quite engaging, although I could not resist skipping about between and within the lectures. An hour is a long time, even in gastroenterology, so that the quality of the lecturer's voice gradually assumes greater importance than the quality of the material being presented. Unfortunately, the moderator of this programme speaks in a hypnotic register, and the IBS lecturer would not keep most of us on the edge of our seats. In contrast, the coeliac disease expert (Irish) had a most engaging audio persona. The sound quality of two of these lectures, particularly the enthusiastic endoscopist, was not, I thought, of a high enough quality for publication, and seriously interfered with my concentration.

The content of all four lectures was however excellent and represents a useful refresher course, although not for primary care physicians as we know them because much of this material goes beyond the needs and experiences of general practitioners in Europe. I imagine that trainees in gastroenterology would find this a useful source of reference and revision and, although this material is not quite as cutting edge as the publishers claim, it may well be of interest to more senior gastroenterologists wishing to be updated in areas outside their own specialism.

I have no idea whether the combination of a talk, without the talking head, with good quality graphics, and a readily accessible transcript is likely to lead to more concentrated or deeper learning than its component parts. I can almost feel a randomised controlled trial coming on. I tried to find out more about the lecture series by visiting HealthStream's website at www.corecurriculum.com, and eventually found my way to a programme about gastroenterology for family physicians, consisting of a one hour presentation on gastro-oesophageal reflux disease funded by AstraZeneca. The website was difficult to use and I got stuck in the middle of a course on craniopharyngeal embryology.

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