1. Stoner, Marilyn Smith PhD, RN, Reviewer

Article Content

THE PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT DISC University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston The University of Texas Medical Branch 301 University Blvd Galveston, TX 77555-0136 Web: Telephone: 1-800-424-2575 Fax: 409-747-7813 Single-user cost: $35 plus shipping; multi-user single site license: $495


This CD ROM and workbook teach users how to perform a basic physical assessment, excluding the genitourinary system. In addition to the clinical skills associated with a physical assessment, information on universal precautions, equipment use and care, and documentation, among other important topics, are covered. The program uses a combination of several high-quality instructional technologies, including animation and video streaming. The program is created using Authorware from Macromedia. Technical support is available during regular business hours. When I called to ask questions about the program, I received an immediate reply and my questions were answered.


The program is simple to install and easy to use. Installation takes just a few moments. The CD ROM must remain in the drive to use the program. The user navigates through the program using 3 primary links: preparation, assessment, and review from the main menu. Returning to the program's home page is easily accomplished by moving the mouse over the Physical Assessment logo. Novice computer users will need to be told to move the mouse to find links, because no text entries lead the user through the screen shots.


The graphic presentation in the program includes state-of-the-art drawings of Michelangelo-like quality. Users will find the fonts, background, and foreground images easy to distinguish. Page transitions are smooth and lead the user's eye to the next main point of the topic.


The content of the program includes text, assessment reviews with immediate feedback, and rich multimedia. Video streaming of an actual older female patient being examined with or without accompanying text is presented. Each of the body systems is presented with a video stream of an examination, a discussion of age-related changes, drawings that illustrate the anatomy of the system (including animations of key concepts and tips for completing the physical examination of that system). In addition, each system includes examples of documentation and a bulleted list of common abnormalities. The animations are very high quality and support the text and video stream demonstrations, creating a powerful multimedia learning experience.


A study guide accompanies the CD ROM and reinforces learning. When completed the authors suggest that the study guide can be used by nurses to reinforce key aspects of a physical examination.


This is an excellent learning tool and is reasonably priced. Single-user licenses are available. The quality of the video streams, the text, and the reviews with immediate feedback make this an excellent tool for teaching students to complete a physical examination. The material is best suited for student nurses or those nurses returning to work after an absence from the clinical area. The developers of the program also suggest that nurses from other settings such as clinics may benefit from reviewing the CD ROM. The information is basic, and nurses already working in the field who are new to working with adults may obtain the most benefit from use of this product.


Minimum system requirements: PC with a Pentium II 200 MHz; 32 (64 recommended) MB or RAM; 256 color SVGA monitor; Windows 95 or Windows 98; Sound Blaster-compatible sound card with speakers; CD-ROM drive (10 x); Video for Windows 1.1; PC only, no Mac version available.