As medical students, we find that we are constantly asked to memorize pages and pages of medical facts. However, we found that memorizing these facts does not always adequately translate to clinical reasoning skills needed to provide the optimal care for patients. Additionally, as we learn more information about other aspects of medicine, it becomes more difficult to retain previously learned knowledge.

We, along with many of our classmates, specifically struggled with microbiology because of the sheer number of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that can cause disease (this number is in the hundreds!). By the time we memorized all of the “bugs”, we got lost in the many “drugs” used to treat the infectious diseases.

What it does

Bugs vs Drugs reframes our medical education of microbiology into a fun, interactive, clinical scenario driven game to teach students how to approach diagnosing and treating patients presenting with various infectious diseases. This game will provide reinforce material we learned in class in a more clinically applicable manner for longer-term retention. This game will additionally be helpful to people in all levels of training in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, amongst others in healthcare.

How we built it

We leveraged our medical education to create relevant clinical contexts in which a provider would need to consider different infectious pathogens and treatments. We then used Stencyl, a video game development platform, to create an interactive “space invaders” style game in which a doctor must use different drugs to defeat the pathogen invaders before the it is too late. The game requires the application of concepts we learned in class to optimally treat the patient.

Challenges we ran into

None of us come from computer science backgrounds, which made showing technical skill very difficult. Many of the ideas we originally came into this hackathon with could not be done since we would be unable to show a tangible end product. For example, we wanted to create a medical device that could detect moisture in the nasal mucosa of elderly patients to alert caretakers before the patient becomes dehydrated. As medical students, we have seen several elderly patients come into the hospital with confusion and delirium, or even in a coma, solely from severe dehydration. This is entirely preventable with smarter methods of detection and communication between patients and caretakers. We were advised against this idea, because as students without technical software/hardware experience, we would be unable to create a tangible end project. This was quite frustrating, but we channeled that frustration into this project, learning about game development and coding along the way.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Even though we came in with little to no programming skill, we took it upon ourselves as a challenge to develop a game. This speaks to our passion of improving medical education, as well as our drive to continually challenge ourselves to learn new skills. As medical professionals, we need to adapt to innovations in technology and expand our skillset to be the best health care providers possible for our future patients.

What we learned

We learned how to use the Stencyl interface and some basic coding associated with using that platform. We additionally gained a deeper understanding of video game development, including the planning process in creating an interactive game. We additionally learned how to use to wix and develop our own website.

What's next for Bugs vs Drugs: A Clinical Microbiology Teaching Game

Right now, we only have scenarios involving bacteria and antibiotics. In the future, we want to expand this to cover all infectious disease pathogens including viruses, fungi, and parasites, as well as associated medications. Once we have created several scenarios for different pathogens, we want to expand to other fields of medicine. We would similarly present patient scenarios, and expect the player to use clinical reasoning to properly diagnose and treat the patient.

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