Embracing Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool benefits health professional schools and the populations they serve





medical education, medical communication, Wikipedia


To paraphrase Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia co-founder, “Imagine a world where all people have access to high quality health information clearly written in their own language.” I believe that most health professional students endorse that goal, as do individuals who volunteer to contribute to Wikipedia’s health-related content. Bringing these two communities together inspired my team’s efforts: a course for medical students to earn academic credit for improving Wikipedia. Here I describe the evolution of that course between 2013 – 2017, and highlight ongoing partnerships with Wikiproject Medicine, Translators Without Borders, and Wikipedia Zero. These collaborations align with health professional schools’ local service missions. If more faculty and schools embrace Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool for tomorrow’s health professionals, those local service missions suddenly expand into a truly global network—accelerating fulfillment of Wikipedia’s audacious goal. In this manuscript, I reflect on my experiences embracing Wikipedia as a medical educator, and speculate about potential implications for the future of health professional education globally.


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Author Biography

Amin Azzam, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry

Amin completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester, before starting medical school at the Medical College of Virginia.  During medical school, he participated in the inaugural year of the National Institutes of Health’s “Clinical Research Training Program.”  After completing medical school, he participated in the research track of the general adult psychiatry residency program at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry.  He then enrolled in a two-year research fellowship in psychiatric genetics at the San Francisco Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, before discovering that his true passion was in medical education.  Deciding that 27 years of formal education just wasn’t enough, he went back to school for a two-year masters’ degree in education, at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on quantitative methods and evaluation.  He is now a Full Clinical Professor at 1) University of California, San Francisco, 2) University of California, Berkeley, and 3) Samuel Merritt University.Currently, he wears the following hats:



Associate Director, and

Head of the “Problem-Based Learning” curriculum

UC Berkeley—UCSF Joint Medical Program (JMP)

Faculty lead of the UCSF “Expanding Wikiproject Medicine” course

UCSF School of Medicine

Simulation Educator

Samuel Merritt University





How to Cite

Azzam, A. (2017). Embracing Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool benefits health professional schools and the populations they serve. Innovations in Global Health Professions Education. https://doi.org/10.20421/ighpe2017.01