The Art and Science of Effective Medical Slides - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Art and Science of Effective Medical Slides
The best medical education meetings include rock-solid data presented through multiple avenues

Pharmaceutical Executive

IT and multimedia teams work to develop slide content in a fashion suitable for a variety of electronic formats. These include Web sites, podcasts, CD-ROMs, customized interactive slide presentations, auto-launch programs, and animated medical illustrations. Relying on principles of adult learning, the teams develop user interfaces that engage users and increase learning. Specific learning objectives should be identified. Chief among these are: a change in knowledge, a change in practitioners' behavior or skill level, and a positive change in patient health outcomes. Data from measured results can then be used to fine-tune presentations to better serve specific audiences.

Connect Content with Learning Styles

Psychologists and learning specialists have identified a number of distinct adult learning styles, which can be best served by customizing content development for individuals. For the purposes of medical educational events, three of these learning styles are most relevant: the visual learning style, the verbal or aural learning style, and the kinesthetic or tactile learning style.

Visual learners remember best what they see and benefit most from presentations that contain a variety of visual stimuli such as diagrams, flow charts, timelines, videos, and demonstrations. Multimedia presentations containing these educational tools enable this type of learner to readily grasp and integrate complex information into their existing knowledge base.

Verbal or aural learners most easily absorb knowledge delivered through succinct and specific language. They respond well to both the written and spoken word, whether as an audio presentation or as part of a video vignette. Most people, however, exhibit characteristics of both visual and verbal learning styles and learn most effectively when information is presented through a combination of the two.

Kinesthetic or tactile learners respond best to a hands-on approach. They thrive by doing. Medical education providers serve these learners best by engaging them in activities that immediately put knowledge into play to reinforce retention. Inviting participants to stand, move around the room, and interact with fellow participants can help to keep this type of learner engaged. Dynamic tactics such as question-and-answer periods, breakout sessions where groups work on individual exercises, and the use of physical props also appeal to this type of learner.

Learners across all types also benefit from an evaluation of what they've learned at the end of an educational event. This not only helps to solidify knowledge but also engenders a sense of accomplishment and immediately underscores in their minds the value of the event to their own practices.

Real-World Applications

Healthcare professionals measure the value of an educational event by the practical applications they are able to take away. Exploring specific case studies in the form of patient vignettes that mirror the everyday clinical experience resonates with most participants. This type of presentation of up-to-the-minute therapeutic options is preferred by the vast majority of physicians attending noncertified medical education events.

Whatever the specific learning style or knowledge state of participants, the medical slide kit remains the cornerstone of an effective educational event. By remaining apprised of the latest research in the area of adult learning theory as well as the most current and engaging presentation media, education providers can continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of discerning healthcare professionals.

Tammy Prouty is vice president, Avant Healthcare Marketing. She can be reached at


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