Blues for the lecture theatre – the pharmacology songbook

Ewen MacDonald, Jarmo Saarti


In 2005, we were able to digitally record the so-called pharmacology songbook; a set of songs with lyrics devoted to pharmacological topics. A CD was prepared
entitled The Beta-blocker Blues and its contents are now all freely available in mp3 format from our web page (Ewen MacDonald and friends 2005). The web page also contains the lyrics and videos. These songs can be used to spice up a
lecture; not only do they also describe certain aspects of basic pharmacology in a humorous manner, they also provide students with easy-to-grasp illustrations of difficult concepts (e.g. the problems associated with prophylactic use of riskreducing medications in large numbers of people, most of whom will never suffer the actual disease). We examined whether students could learn basic pharmacology knowledge simply by listening to a CD with the songs. After listening to the CD on the weekend prior to the start of their pharmacology course, our novice students more than doubled their performance on a multiple-choice examination (from a pre-CD score of 30% up to 65% after the CD; p<0.001). We
conclude that these ‘pharmacological blues’ are a useful teaching resource for basic pharmacology students.

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