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PBL: What is it really?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by 8744, Aug 13, 2002.

  1. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Could someone please explain to me what a typical day is like in a "Problem Based Learning" curriculum. Is it true that you all don't have lectures? How do you all like it?
     
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  3. analu

    analu Senior Member
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    Hi Panda Bear,

    A typical week in our PBL curriculum is as follows:

    Mondays/Thursdays: We meet in small, assigned groups of 5-6 and a tutor (teaching faculty member) and learn our basic sciences through working case studies. For example, our first case study involved a teenager c/o sore throat. We talk about what she could be suffering from and identify learning issues (e.g. what is strep, what causes pain, what is inflammation, etc.). This session lasts for 3 hours. After the tutorial, each member is responsible for researching a specific learning issue and will present his/her info at the next session. Usually from 9-12.

    Tuesdays: We volunteer in the community for 4 hours. Some of us choose to do hospice service, some educate children on health issues, while others work in community clinics. Usually from 8-12.

    Wednesdays: In the morning, we learn clinical skills and practice performing H&Ps. In the afternoon, we study anatomy, using prosected cadavers (cadavers that have already been dissected for us). Wednesdays are 8-5 for us...our only full day.

    Fridays: These are optional "resource days," where faculty give lectures pertinent to our PBL cases. Usually runs from 8-12.

    Obviously, a lot of our learning occurs outside the classroom. For me, PBL seems to foster a very non-competitive environment...the learning which takes place is collaborative and flexible. I'm having a blast so far (ask me again during exam week;))! Let me know if you have any other questions!

    Aloha:cool:
     
  4. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Thanks. It sounds pretty cool.

    We are still on the "lecture" system, although the new curriculum is "system based" with some small group learning.

    I have to confess that I think I need to be "spoon-fed" in lecture. But if you are a person who likes a little less formal structure, I can see how PBL would be an advantage. Sounds like your school has made an effort to make the material both interesting and relevent.

    What is a "pro-sected" cadaver exactly? I bet I would have learned anatomy better if somebody else had done the dissection. I seemed to have wasted huge amounts of time "digging" for one nerve, rather than learning anatomy.
     
  5. analu

    analu Senior Member
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    That's exactly right. Our cadavers have been professionally dissected in order to demonstrate the pertinent anatomy. We spend about 2 scheduled hours a week identifying anatomical structures related to our case study, i.e. neck for our sore throat case...we've just completed the thorax and lungs. The traditional "gross anatomy" course is available as an elective.

    Although much time is saved by having someone else to the "dirty work," it's probably easier to visualize exactly where everything goes if one had to dissect it him/herself.

    Still, it's been an enjoyable experience so far!!!:)
     
  6. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending
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    I haven't started school yet, but I will be learning from cadavers that have been prosectioned as well. I think it will save time learning all the anatomical structures, but feel that I may be missing out on the old school traditional 'meet your cadaver' fresh sort of thing. There is an elective if we desire disection, so I may consider doing that if I choose to go into an anatomy intensive specialty. I'm really excited to start school. I soon as I get done wrapping up my Master's Thesis (really soon hopefully :eek: ) I'll be ready to start classes. My orientation is on the 3rd, the white coat ceremony on the 5th, and classes begin on the 9th. Have fun everyone.
     
  7. Jeff698

    Jeff698 EM/EMS nerd
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    It is important to realize that not all PBL curricula are the same. Different schools implement it in different ways. Here's how it has been done at my school (UTMB in Galveston):

    We have three PBL sessions each week on MWF, each is two hours long. Our PBLs work pretty much like analu's. Our PBLs have gotten much more clinically oriented (ie focused on clinical issues vs basic science ones) in the second year.

    We have our 'teach clinical stuff' course on TTh, here called Practice of Medicine (POM). The amount of time spent with this varies by semester but usually consists of two, one-hour lectures and some type of small group exercise. The first year, we spent much more time in small groups learning to do H&PEs and practicing for our OSCEs (standardized clincial patient encounters).

    We have traditional lectures on MWF. We certainly have fewer lectures than the traditional curriculum. We usually have around two lectures per day.

    We have a lab once a week for a couple of hours. We spend time (far too much, IMHO) staring into microscopes learning (suposedly, anyway) histology and the science of small, dead stuff. Obviously, pathology isn't my favorite topic.

    The entire curriculum is arranged in blocks. Each block in about 8 weeks and, other than POM, we do one subject per block. Each block is an integrated topic. The idea is that we integrate the basic science in a way that will make clinical sense. This is usually better explained by example. Our first block is GAR (Gross Anatomy & Radiology). We do the typical anatomy lectures, augmented by dissections (we do our own, thankfully) and PBL. Plus, we learn to read various types of imaging studies as a way of reinforcing the anatomy.

    Next we do MCT which covers biochem, cell biology, genetics, pharmacology (the basic issues, specific classes of drugs are spread out through the entire two years).

    That's the way first year works. Second year is organ based. For example, we're in the first block of second year right now...cardiovascular/pulmonary.

    The last two years are pretty much like everybody elses.

    Sorry for the verbosity. Anyway, that's how our 'PBL' curriculum works.

    Take care,
    Jeff
    MS-II
    UTMB
     
  8. barb

    barb Senior Member
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    At UCLA we have a pretty traditional, lecture-based curriculum. However, we do have a class which is meant to help us with critical thinking/problem solving skills called Clinical Applications of Basic Sciences (CABS) where we meet in small groups (8-10 people) with an instructor/facilitator. There we go over case studies, with the emphasis on developing problem-solving skills. As things arise in the case study that we don't understand or still haven't learned, we break down the "learning issues" to see what it is we need to know in order to solve the problem, and then we divide them up and each research one. When we reconvene, we share what we have learned through our research and work together to solve the problem.
    We also have a course called "Doctoring" where we have standardized patients and we learn how to interview patients, etc.
    Other than that, the curriculum is fairly traditional. We attend lectures for the basic sciences, and labs for histology and gross anatomy (where we dissect our own cadavers). I still haven't decided if dissecting our own cadavers is better or worse than having one pre-dissected. Yes, we do waste a lot of time cutting through tissue, etc. We probably spend 2 hours cutting, and only1 hour learning. However, there's something about doing the cutting yourself that makes it (at least for me) so much more meaningful - because while you are cutting, you have to be careful to only cut the structures you want, and to be mindful not to wreck any of the other structures. In that way, it seems to be an effective way to help learn anatomical structures.
     

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