As you embark upon your studies of the microbial world—and a fascinating world it will be— you will wonder how important some topics are that will be covered. You may ask yourself—or your instructor—how important is this topic to my career? If it is nursing, obviously the material on infectious diseases, epidemiology (the scientific and medical study of the causes, transmission, and control of a disease within a population), and immunology (the study of how our bodies fight an infection or disease) are critical. If you are planning on pharmacy school, add antimicrobial drugs to that list. But what about some of the other “science” topics, like microbial metabolism and genetics? Are these important to a successful career? A few years ago, the forum section on a Web site called allnurses.com (“A Nursing Community for Nurses”) asked nurses “What [microbiology] topics keep resurfacing in your nursing classes?” Among the top responses were some obvious ones, such as antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, infectious diseases, and immunity. But also on that list was microbial genetics. Perhaps more revealing were the responses to a second question: “What do you wish that you had learned better in microbiology that you thought you would never see again [in your nursing classes]?” Among the answers submitted was metabolism. Another survey published in Focus on Microbiology Education in 2006 (Volume 12 No. 2, p. 7–9) asked nurse educators what they thought were important topics for their students to learn in a microbiology class.
The top six in importance were:
1. Bacterial structures and their functions;
2. Viral structures and their functions;
3. Epidemiology and public heath issues;
6. Disinfection and antisepsis. Rounding out the top 10 were:
7. Bacterial metabolism;
8. Fungal structures and their functions;
9. Microbial genetics;
10. Biotechnology (production of vaccines, medicines, and diagnostic techniques). Notice that in both surveys, the topics of microbial metabolism and microbial genetics are among the top 10 concepts to master and understand. So, make sure you pay attention to what your instructor has to say and what “we need to know” (understand) about these topics. They are important—and they will show up again in your nursing courses! Besides metabolism and genetics, there is a substantial amount of other information you will need to learn and understand. To facilitate this understanding and coordinate it with class material, I developed a “learning design” format for the textbook (described below) to make reading easier, studying more efficient, and learning uncomplicated. Most importantly, the design allows you to better evaluate your learning and provides you with the tools needed to probe your understanding—that is, chapter learning aids and assessment drills to evaluate your progress. Realize, a prepared student knows her or his mastery before an exam—not as a result of the exam! The “learning design” format facilitates this need.