The Wikipedia guide to medicine
Could the online encyclopaedia provide the basis for a new medical school curriculum?
“Because of the errors it contains, the place for Wikipedia in medical education is non-existent,” said one of my lecturers during a discussion on teaching. You might recognise this attitude to Wikipedia in your lecturers and teachers. Despite the online encyclopaedia’s huge scope—it contains more than 22 million articles—it is generally perceived as unreliable, inaccurate, and unsuitable for serious academic study.
In my experience, however, the website is widely used by students and healthcare professionals. It is rather like a tabloid newspaper: nobody will admit to reading the Sun, so how can we explain a copy circulation of more than a million?1
Wikipedia allows multiple users to edit and update text quickly and easily, and it has more than 77 000 contributors. Wikipedia says this is its strength. “Unlike printed encyclopedias, Wikipedia is continually created and updated, with articles on historic events appearing within minutes,” reads the website. Yet, it