#DTMH Strategies: Using the GHHM Site

For those who are acquiring the eligibility to sit for the Royal College of Physicians, London, iteration of the DTM&H examination through the MSF's Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine course, this is a short primer introducing them to the slightly confusing, extremely helpful, and somewhat user-unfriendly Moodle platform which forms the foundation stone for the year-long preparation trek!

This is a quick round up on how to use the Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine (GHHM) site, which is a Moodle site designed by the MSF teaching team, in aiding your preparations for the DTM&H examination. The site is password restricted, and only those who have been accepted as students for the session year can access it. There are several components of the site, and on first blush, it might be a little difficult to try and use them all. The user interface also has a bit of a learning gradient, but once familiar, the site is an incredible powerhouse of information archival and retrieval.

The major parts of the site that the students will interact with are the following:

  1. The Student Forum
  2. The Group Activities
  3. The Weekly Quizzes
  4. The Special Quizzes
  5. The Updates Page

1. The Student Forum

This is the place where general comments, updates, and discussion threads can be hosted. This is visible to all the students, and there are strict guidelines on what you can post, and how you can post them. Although I do not speak for the program, there are two principles I follow when posting materials online (and I post a LOT of that – this blog is ample proof!). The first rule is, of course, be nice. And the second rule is to not violate the trust and right to confidentiality of patients. One should not share any picture or clinical vignette or any clinical material from which patient identifiers have not been removed. Further, it is good practice to have the consent from the patient for sharing the materials, even when anonymized. In my opinion, it is not worth the risk and hassle to post clinical materials from one’s own practice when there is ample #FOAMED stuff floating around in the interwebs.

2. The Group Activities

The group work forms one of the critical practice elements for the preparation of DTM&H. The incoming batch of students are divided into small groups of 6-8 students. This time, there are 8 groups (and I am the moderator for Group 8). Each week, a problem will be posed, followed by a few questions which have to be solved in course of the week. Each week, there is one person who has been identified as the Chairperson for the group discussion.

Now, suppose Group 8, the group I am moderating, has six members. And Dr. X is the Chairperson for Week 1. Then, the responsibility of the five other members is to post their answers to the group task on the Group Activity forum. If there are multiple questions, it is better to have different discussion threads for each of these questions. The five members take a stab at the questions in course of the study week. They post their experiences, if any, in dealing with such situations in their real lives. They can share journal articles, book chapters or other teaching/learning materials which can inform the others in the issue being discussed. The Chairperson then closes out the discussion at the end of the week by posting a summarized answer incorporating not only the materials which have been discussed, but also adding their insights on the issues.

Now a couple of things to remember. First, it is important to treat these as potential short answer practice sessions. One need not write a super long, detailed response. The responses should be crisp, to the point, and exam worthy. If possible, one should try wrapping up the answer in 200-300 words. One can also try writing out these answers by hand to practice finishing up in 10 minutes (although perhaps starting off one can just try to learn the content that goes with these tasks). And second, participation in the group activities is a way to prove your attendance in the course activities. Every student has to take a stab at each problem, each week, if they are supposed to maintain a proper attendance. More details on the attendance cut offs, below which one becomes ineligible to appear for the DTM&H examination will be shared by the GHHM course coordinators in due course.

Strategies for Writing Preventive Medicine Answers

3. The Weekly Quizzes

This is perhaps the MOST important learning tool for the DTM&H examination. Every week, 10 (more or less) questions will be posted on the Quizzes page. They will be answered and discussed in the course of the next week’s online sessions. It might be a little demotivating to attempt them, because in the first few weeks one would be getting MOST of them wrong, especially if they are not from a hardcore Microbiology background. But that should not dissuade the students from attempting the questions every week. Looking up the answers and doing the related reading is a great way to consolidate the ideas and learning materials for the course.

4. The Special Quizzes

We had special quizzes on Parasitology and Short Answer Questions for Preventive Medicine, which will be placed on the platform in due course. Once these materials are put up, they are treated in the same way as weekly quizzes. They are not put up every week, and as the course progresses, the intensity with which these extra quizzes get put up increases.

Let’s Get Quizzical

5. The Updates Page

This is the page where you can login to see what new materials have been put up. This is a thread maintained by the GHHM course coordinators, and they are very particular about posting the new materials that are uploaded on the site on this forum. Since all of us take this course despite holding down full time day jobs, there are bound to be periods where the studying for the GHHM course takes a backseat. It is a good way to see what new matter has been put up online since your last foray into the forum, if you are coming back after a hiatus.

Moderators: How to use them?

Each student group has been assigned a moderator, who will help oversee their preparations and help them through the difficult stages one encounters in course of the GHHM curriculum. The moderators are recent past-students, who took the GHHM course and graduated the DTM&H examination. As such, not only do they have the experience of tackling the beast, but also, can share in the pains of preparing for the DTM&H whilst working full time. It is important for the students to have a good relationship with the moderator. Most moderators are also working full time, and doing this on a voluntary basis, so they come with a sense of altruism anyway. It is extremely likely that if the students reach out to the moderators, they would be happy to nudge them in the right direction.

In my GHHM course, I had the pleasure of having a wonderful, warm, helpful, accessible and approachable moderator, who gave brilliant advice and helped us prepare well during the last push for the DTM&H preparations. I hope that I can be half as good… anyway, to any GHHM India Group 8 student reading this – I am happy to help, just like the Vodafone pug (but not as cute).

Image Credits: All images of Calvin and Hobbes sourced from different sites; copyright belongs to Bill Watterson; I own nothing, except my gratitude and fanboyness.

Skeptic Oslerphile. Public Health Scientist and Program Manager, Translational Global Health Policy Research Cell, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Past: Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases; Senior Research Associate, Public Health Foundation of India. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

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