At Tel Aviv University, trainee doctors do not just learn bedside manner — they learn online manner as well.
The academic year has just started, and medical students are being offered a new course called “Wiki-medicine: The Wonderful World of Wiki and Free Medical Information in Hebrew Wikipedia”.
Instead of assignments, the students have to write and post entries on Wikipedia on medical subjects.
The course tutor, Shani Evenstein, a member of Hebrew Wikipedia’s board, said: “Today, in a world where everyone reads on Wikipedia about their conditions first and then visits the doctor, it’s important for doctors to be able to communicate in the simple language that is used online.”
She said that while there are plenty of medical resources aimed at healthcare professionals, the public needs something very different. “It’s a different language and you have to know how to use it,” said Ms Evenstein.
“Which joker wrote on Wikipedia that the thigh bone is connected to the neck bone?”
She believes that training medical students in Wikipedia-writing is a win-win situation, as it will produce doctors who have better communication skills and raise the level of medical information available online.
Although the course is focused on Hebrew Wikipedia, it will involve meetings with veteran writers for both the Hebrew and English Wikipedia, who will brief the students on posting articles and the review process.