A NEW APPROACH TO SCIENTIFIC TEXTBOOK WRITING: THINK ZEBRAS NOT HORSES
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWhile originally intended to be a full textbook including all organ systems, we ultimately decided on focusing on the respiratory, cardiovascular, and immune systems. We took a unique approach to writing a high school level anatomy and physiology textbook by focusing on rare/complex diseases and using those diseases as a mode to communicate basic concepts of physiology. The name “Think Zebras Not Horses” comes from the phrase “When you hear hoofbeats think horses not zebras” which is medical slang instructing students and residents to focus on the obvious and likely diagnosis rather than a complex and unlikely one. Oftentimes, students are more inclined to learn about the complex and rare diseases, as it provides a sense of strong learning-in that, the uniqueness of a lesson or topic ultimately results in students becoming more immersed in the material. The goal of this book is not to teach how to diagnose or treat such rare diseases, but rather the rare diseases are used as a doorway to understand these three organ systems by relating dysfunction and abnormalities to the normal.