Circus Venomous: An interactive tool for toxinology education

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Abstract

Background:

Clinical education about envenomations and their treatment may convey clinical and zoological details inadequately or flatly. In recent years, the widespread availability of models and videos of venomous species have created unique opportunities for toxinology education. We share our experiences using a new toolkit for educating a diverse array of clinicians, students, and wilderness medicine enthusiasts.

Methods:

We examined the cost, number of participants, and satisfaction data since the initiation of a portable workshop featuring high-fidelity exhibits of venomous species. Termed the “Circus Venomous,” this educational toolkit consists of several boxes of props, such as plastic models, photos, and preserved specimens of injurious species. The workshop consists of three phases: 1.) participants view all exhibits and answer clinical questions regarding venomous injuries; 2.) short video clips from television, internet, and cinema are viewed together, and myths about envenomation injuries are debunked; 3.) debriefing session and wrap-up.

Results:

We have utilized the Circus Venomous to teach medical students, residents, practicing community clinicians, nurses, PAs, national and regional parkmedics, and wilderness enthusiasts. The major cost (about $800) was spent on the purchase of highly durable, lifelike models and well preserved real reptile and arachnid specimens. When formal feedback was solicited, the participants expressed high levels of satisfaction, scoring an average of 4.3, 4.4, and 4.3 out of 5 points in the respective areas of content, presentation, and practical value of the activity. Since we have used this exhibit with approximately 250 participants over 2 years, we estimate the materials cost per participant is approximately $3.

Conclusions:

The Circus Venomous is a novel, interactive, flexible, and cost-effective teaching tool about envenomation emergencies. We hope that this concept will encourage other clinical educators toward further innovation. Future directions for our group include greater inclusion of marine species into the Circus Venomous, and formal longitudinal testing to measure knowledge retention based on this approach.

Highlights:

▸ An emerging transition in general medical education, including the teaching of clinical toxinology, is introduced. ▸ A flexible, interactive toolkit called “Circus Venomous” is described. ▸ The Circus Venomous presentation can be used to teach diverse array of professionals.

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