How to Use Medutainment to Enhance EMS Education
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How to Use Medutainment to Enhance EMS Education


In the rapidly changing world of emergency medicine, there’s lots of competition for learners’ limited time and attention. In such an environment, educators can no longer rely solely on traditional methods to engage and motivate those they teach. Medutainment may be the answer.

The terms edutainment and medutainment may be inventions of the 20th century, but the idea of using entertainment to educate is as old as recorded history. Many of the first stories people told each other were intended to teach lessons about life, morality and proper behavior in society.

The focus of most medical entertainment/education is to instruct patients to avoid or properly manage medical problems. Early examples of medutainment include Disney-produced films that taught soldiers how to stay healthy during World War II. About his films Walt Disney once said, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate and hope that they were entertained.” Modern examples include the CDC’s “Zombie Preparedness” family emergency plan program of 2015. It used humor, shock and drama to entice viewers, engage them with the message and inspire action afterward.

Forms of medutainment have also been used to instruct EMS and other emergency healthcare providers. The first person to record an ECG on a human, Augustus Waller, trained his bulldog Jimmy to stand with his paws in bowls of saltwater being used as electrodes while Waller displayed Jimmy’s ECG for an audience.

Waller published his research in a scientific journal, but the spectacle and controversy of his displays with Jimmy reached a much wider audience. Discussions of Waller’s adorable puppy and the debate over live animal experiments may have been nonscientific, but they helped get the word out about an important medical advance.

Modern Methods for Modern Medicine

While foundational knowledge is still important in EMS, much of the information we once had to memorize can now be easily stored and rapidly accessed electronically.

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