PBL is a teaching method used by a large amount of medical schools. It is a student-centered approach to learning, where students work in small groups to tackle cases or medical problems and come up with a series of learning objectives and aims. In the sessions, students work together to cover those objectives, discuss them and try to understand key concepts together.
One of the best things about PBL courses is your PBL group. Usually this is a group of about nine other people who you will be working very closely with. Together you will tackle different learning points, discuss them and try to understand key concepts together. You spend a lot of time during the week with your PBL group and it’s a great opportunity to make new friends.
2. Talking it all out
Everyone learns differently, but lecture-based courses can often seem as if you are being told what to learn and how to learn it. PBL courses on the other hand allows you to learn by talking things through with your group. It gives you the chance to define your own learning objectives, do your own research and gives you a broader understanding of topics. There’s also a lot of opportunity to discuss real-life issues, including some of the social, psychological and ethical issues surrounding a case which can be difficult to get from lectures. If you are worried about getting distracted, PBL sessions take place with a tutor.
3. Learning new skills
PBL based courses help you develop lifelong skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, time-management and self-motivation. These skills will be invaluable both during your time at medical school and when you start working. Everyone is encouraged to speak up during PBL sessions and this will help to develop your communication and teamwork skills.
4. Self-directed learning
PBL courses also encourage you to become self-motivated and take control of your learning. After coming up with learning objectives as a group, you go away and gather all of the information you need to tackle these learning objectives. Although working on your own may seem daunting, you do have the opportunity to discuss this with your PBL group in the next few sessions.
5. Real-life situations
All of the above skills will be invaluable to you as you pursue your medical career. As a doctor, you will be encouraged to work in teams to solve problems – this can be another group of doctors or different members of staff in a multi-disciplinary team. Studying on a PBL course can help you adapt to all of these situations and allow you to work effectively as a doctor.