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Outside the Lab Training and education, Profession

Gamifying Pathology: A Pathologist Word Search

Linguists say that, for a trip abroad, you can get by with knowledge of 300 to 600 words in the local language. To be conversant in a language, you need to know between 1,000 and 3,000 words. As a medical student, I taught myself some 1,500 words of Swedish and – with this skimpy vocabulary – held my own in friendly conversations and even got a summer job as a nurses’ assistant in a Swedish hospital. Thus, I believe that the linguists are right.

It goes without saying that you cannot speak a language without a decent vocabulary in it. Learning pathology is, to some extent, like learning a new language. Estimates suggest that, during a standard two-semester pathology course, medical students learn around 7,000 new words. This newly acquired vocabulary is equivalent to knowing a second language at an advanced level, being conversant in two additional languages taught at a university level, or six months of an intensive language course. We all know that it was not easy, but we managed to learn all of those words by reading textbooks or listening to lectures.

There are many ways to teach the vocabulary of pathology and I am not sure any one is better than the others. Here, I offer two games that can be used to teach or enhance students’ knowledge of pathology terminology. Hangman, prepared by Alden Hallak, focuses mainly on cell pathology; the word search below on inflammation I prepared myself.

Please have a look to see whether you agree with me that learning through gamification can be both enjoyable and effective. As Richard Stokes says, “Gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun.”

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About the Author
Ivan Damjanov

Professor Emeritus of Pathology at the University of Kansas, Kansas City, USA.

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