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curious what others think about PBL

Discussion in 'Veterinary' started by futrdvm, May 27, 2008.

  1. futrdvm

    futrdvm westernu class of 2012 2+ Year Member

    May 22, 2008
    san diego
    i was browsing posts on VIN and someone brought up their misgivings about western grads being ill prepared for the boards and practice in general because of the problem-based learning curriculum. i'm curious of any current western students feel this way or if any students with experience in each type of learning environment can list the pros or cons of each.
    i realize that regardless of the school, one will get out of it what he or she puts into it, but are there any particular drawbacks to a PBL system?
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  3. chris03333

    chris03333 Veterinarian 7+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2005
    I am a Western Grad. Passed NAVLE and CA boards on the first attempt, so I was prepared. I thought PBL was a serious pain in the butt when I was going through the first 2 years, but boy did it prepare me well for clinics. So you can say that I had a love/hate relationship with it. I feel that it is a great tool for people who are self motivated. If you are not self motivated, PBL will not suit you.
  4. critterfixer

    critterfixer Veterinarian 2+ Year Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    We only had 3 weeks of PBL during first year at UTK, but I must say I wish we had a LOT more of it. It is my favorite part of the curriculum, and the only material I remember completely. This is not to say traditional lecture doesn't teach anything, because obviously it does, but if you don't "use" it, you do lose it, and PBL forces you to use it.

    PBL is also a much more collaborative form of learning, and I can't help believe that veterinary medicine best serves a patient when it is a collaborative process.
  5. LynnKat

    LynnKat Member 5+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2006
    I think it could be incredibly useful especially in second year when you have more of a background. I actually expected to hate the whole idea of PBL, but I was pretty impressed with Western when I interviewed there. I decided to stay on the east coast near family, but I really considered going that route.

    I'm sure it would make me crazy day in and day out, but I think there are merits to the approach, especially versus the "learn and purge" method that my brain adopted as a survival strategy during gruelling exam blocks. For me, an ideal currciculum would incorporate some PBL or at least a case based strategy to complement lecture courses. There are certainly benifits and drawbacks to both traditional and PBL approaches, and my experience with more traditional courses tells me that there would be merit to incorporating more cases, though I think doing only cases would drive me a bit batty as well.
  6. WhtsThFrequency

    WhtsThFrequency Veterinarian 10+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2006
    I think, just like any personal learning style (visual, auditory, etc), it works for some people and doesn't work for others.

    Some people learn better having all the rote facts and information first, while some people prefer figuring it out along the way by focusing more on casework and less on memorization as in PBL. Someone who learns better in the classical way will not necessarily make a better or worse clinician to someone taught PBL-style : I think it's really just a learning preference.
  7. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc 7+ Year Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    Columbia, Missouri
    I personally have much MUCH more retention problem style. I do okay enough to get by with the binge and purge style, but it's definitely not my preference. For example, last semester during large animal anatomy, we went on and on and on about the guttural pouch in the horse. Well, the problem is, you can't really open up a horse's mouth and have a look, so all I did is memorize (and poorly at that) a list of structures associated with it and attempt to identify them on the split horse head. We had so much crap to learn, I was like, "eh, whatever. I don't really get it, but I don't really care." One of the clinicians in the teaching hospital gave a voluntary lecture on endoscopy use in laryngeal problems, complete with lots of video of lots of clinical cases. That made it SO much better. I really felt I learned more in that hour of my free time than at least a lecture or two plus how ever many hours in lab I tried to slog through it. PBL FTW! :cool:
  8. rachroo

    rachroo OSU CVM c/o 2013 5+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    Cincinnati, OH
    One of the schools I'm applying to is Western and I have to admit, the PBL learning style is both a positive and a negative for me. While working at different practices I have seen how much the vets I've worked with respect and consult one another, ask each other's opinions, advice, etc. and I think that's a great thing!!

    But...for schools who teach in PBL (either all the time or have a few weeks of it) I feel like being in a group with other people trying to solve cases when you haven't learned the "basics" sounds very daunting. How am I supposed to diagnose and treat a patient if I don't even know the anatomy or pharmacology yet?

    More specifically, at Western, how does this process work? Are their any lectures or is it all PBL all the time? Do you feel that by the time you get to clinics (or graduate) you have somehow learned all the basics AND become quite proficient in solving cases?
  9. critterfixer

    critterfixer Veterinarian 2+ Year Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    At UTK we have trained facilitators who work with our groups. If we are brain storming, and we can't answer the facilitator's questions as to how or why we think something should be considered, it becomes a learning issue. We each have one or two learning issues per day we are responsible for researching and then presenting to the group the next day. We can ask clinicians for guidance, research on VIN, in the library, speak to professors, wherever, but we cannot bring any books to group and we are completely responsible for finding a way to learn the mechanisms and pertinent facts.

    We do not end any case without having a pretty darn thorough understanding of all the medical and clinical aspects. It isn't a case of "well, just figure this out." The facilitators are trained to mentor us and guide us in finding the information we need, but we have to dive in and do it. You can't "solve a case" without also learning the basics. It just makes the basics relevant.

    We are also reviewed at the end of the case, with our strengths and weaknesses pointed out. And we write up a case reflective journal, too. I think it's an awesome way to learn, and I only regret we don't do a whole lot more of it.

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