Giesey et al identified the challenge of teaching dermatology in family medicine residencies and proposed a solution with a dermatology education tool kit.1 Our family medicine program is also looking for ways to improve dermatology education, and we plan to implement some of the evaluated toolkit’s components. The toolkit, however, is not generalizable, because it includes resources that may not be realistic for some programs to implement.
The DERM toolkit includes four tools for resident education: the LearnDerm lessons and quizzes, the Birdwatching List, VisualDx mobile app, and a core curriculum created by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The LearnDerm lessons and the AAD curriculum are online lessons that are free and easily accessible. However, VisualDx is not universally available for practitioners and has a substantial subscription cost. For other programs to find an alternative tool, the author needs to give a better description of what VisualDx added to the learning experience. Another component of the toolkit, called the Birdwatching List, appears to be a tool in a curriculum created by another group. Giesey et al do not break down the components of the Birdwatching List or explain how it was incorporated. These omissions make it difficult for other programs to use this tool. In addition, the Birdwatching List seems like a labor intensive step for learners, with low promise of practical utility; a small homemade catalog of diagnoses can hardly compete with professionally developed databases and the multitude of dermatology information available in textbooks and online.
The work of Dr Giesey and colleagues addresses a common and important knowledge gap in many family medicine residencies. Our program will definitely be using some of the suggestions and resources as we tackle this same issue in our program. Given that the article does not provide comprehensive details on the components of the toolkit, however, we will not be able to fully implement it. Authors publishing curriculum designs could help other educators by giving more details on how to implement the curriculum, and by suggesting alternative resources for the tools that are not available universally.