Virtual microscopy as a practical alternative to conventional microscopy in pathology education


Professor Woo Ho Kim, Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Yongon-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul 110-799, Korea. Email:


Background and aims: Laboratory education on pathology for undergraduate medical student has traditionally been conducted by using analog microscopy on glass slides with standard pathological cases. Virtual microscopy was recently introduced as an alternative to conventional microscopy, but there are issues surrounding its in the educational context. Methods: We introduced virtual microscopy in a pathology laboratory class, as an addition to analog microscopy. One hundred and sixty first year-medical students were surveyed using preformed or free questions after use of both virtual and conventional microscopy. Results: Many advantages were noticed and students strongly favored virtual microscopy. Most students reported that use of the virtual microscope can significantly improve performance and learning efficiency. The three most significant advantages of virtual microscopy were freedom from optical stress, better image quality and time saving. Less advantageous points were inconvenient slide selection, less vivid feeling of examining and that the technique was not useful for finding artifacts such as foreign bodies. Although they could save time by using virtual microscopy, more students remained longer in the laboratory room when they used virtual microscopy. Conclusion: Virtual microscopy was accepted by students as an excellent tool to facilitate learning. We believe that virtual microscope is an excellent tool for pathology laboratory education.