An Educational Resource to Aid in Understanding Antibiotics

The website, LearnAntibiotics.com, is a supplemental tool offering guides, practice exams, and other resources to help students, residents, or practicing professionals with infectious diseases pharmacotherapy.

Pharmacy and medical school students acquire a mountain of information in just a few years. And it’s not short-term learning where you can memorize it for exams and forget it afterwards. Much of the information they learn has to be committed to memory because students will need to use it for their clinical practice.

In addition, pharmacy students or residents are learning medications’ indications, side effects, and other relevant information, which can be an enormous task on its own.

Timothy Gauthier, PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP, is the founder and manager of LearnAntibiotics.com, an educational resource to help pharmacy and medical students, residents, or practicing professionals with infectious diseases. When Gauthier was in pharmacy school he was “terrified of failure,” and was challenged with the infectious diseases portion of a therapeutics class.

After he graduated from school, he turned his fear and what he saw as incorrect studying resources into his desire to alleviate stress for others and create a framework for people to learn infectious diseases pharmacotherapy more accurately.

Contagion spoke to him recently about the website and the resources users can access.

You have the website, LearnAntibiotics.com. Why the decision to create this site?

The short altruistic answer is to make learning antibiotics easier so we can all do better at protecting antibiotics for future generations. The long answer is as follows.

Infectious diseases is one of the most difficult subjects covered in pharmacy school. Many students do not excel in this area because it is so complicated and the answer to almost every question is “it depends.” It is a specialty riddled with exceptions for which few rules hold consistently true. To this end many pharmacy students fear infectious diseases pharmacotherapy due to risk of failing the course. In turn it is no surprise many students just want to pass, they really are not as focused as they should be on learning the content well for their career as a health professional.

Through 2 years of residency specializing in infectious diseases I became well acquainted with the world of bugs and drugs. Then working as a pharmacy faculty member teaching infectious diseases pharmacotherapy for 5 years I had the chance to obtain a greater understanding of what key elements students needed to get the fundamentals down.

One day a student showed me a cheat sheet they had found online which they thought was very good. They were excited to have the resource and share it with me. Upon reviewing the cheat sheet, I found several issues with it and on the website it came from I was able to identify that the person creating it did not have advanced training in infectious diseases. I could see that novel cheat sheets could help learners. I knew that I could apply my expertise and experience to develop high quality study tools.

This is what inspired me to develop LearnAntibiotics.com, which could be a place where any health professions student, resident, or practicing professional could get a tool for learning clinically relevant fundamentals of infectious diseases pharmacotherapy, clinical microbiology, and biostatistics. The secondary benefit of LearnAntibiotics.com was that revenue it generated could help support my other passion project, www.IDstewardship.com which is 100% open-access.

Is the website a supplemental tool for students and learners?

Yes! One misconception is that Learn Antibiotics is just for pharmacy students, when in fact it is also used by many residents and working professionals as well as many non-pharmacists (e.g., physicians and physician assistants). The site is also used not only to study for pharmacotherapy classes, but also for professional licensing exams and board certifications. The content is so widely applicable because it is the core of clinical infectious diseases, which I use my expertise to combine with some of the most clinically relevant learning points.

I recommend using the website in conjunction with traditional study tools. Diversifying study strategies and tools is critical for maximizing learning. Seeing information in different context helps us see items from different perspectives and can support retention.

Can you provide an overview of the site and some of its important features?

Learn Antibiotics offers four different sections:

1. Cheat Sheets.There are currently 24 one-page study cheat sheets which include content focused on drug classes, specific organisms, diseases states, clinical microbiology and biostatistics. This is the most popular content we have.

2. Practice Tests. We offer several different formats for practice tests. This is to allow for in-depth assessment of key content as well as to support rapid reviews. Members like this content because it is available on their phones and they can take the tests for 5 minutes here and there between other things they are working on. In line at Target? Waiting for a friend to meet up? Got time to kill? Review bugs and drugs for a few minutes!

3. Fill-In-The Blanks. This section supports the recall part of learning, which helps build a foundation for more complex tasks like developing a clinical plan. There are sheets with blanks that the member can try to fill in, then use the answer key to see how they did. Repeating this task until all the answers are able to be filled in helps with recall. In this section we also have some other fun tools, which include things like a “drugs that cover MRSA wordsearch” and a couple antibiotic jeopardy games.

4. Rotation Resources. This section provides resources that can help students and residents during their clinical rotations, such as patient monitoring forms and worksheets to help capture all the important points as they work up patients for renal dosing, IV to PO, or home infusion.I took many resources accumulated over years of training and working, then boiled it all down into these concise rotation resources.

Who is your audience for the website?

People in the health professions who want to learn about antibiotics are my primary target audience. This includes people from the pharmacy, nursing, medical, and allied health professions. Anyone who needs to know about antibiotics for their course, test, or work can benefit from these study tools.

To access the sites resources, users need to become members. Can you provide a breakdown of the various membership levels and what users get for each level?

There are 5 membership types. Level 1 gives access to cheat sheets, Level 2 adds to that with fill-in-the-blanks access, Level 3 further adds rotation resources, then all-access memberships (1 year or 4 years) provide access to everything including practice tests. We also have a discounted student membership that is the lowest cost and provides select foundational content from each of the sections.

For members who have follow-up questions, is there an opportunity to get help or have questions answered?

For any questions about Learn Antibiotics, people can reach out to IDstewardship@Gmail.com or send a message using our contact page.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect that of any former, current, or potential future employer.