I started studying Medicine this year at a university which uses a lot of PBL alongside an integrated approach to teaching. A lot of you will know what I mean by a PBL and Integrated course, but after being here for almost half a semester, I’ve picked up a few things that you may not have known before…
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PBL is far from the traditional lecture-style teaching. Once you start you quite quickly realise that there are many things that you are completely left to learn for yourselves. You’re told where and when you can use certain resources and then let loose to learn whatever it is using your own preferred ways. When you first get your timetable you’ll probably be amazed to see huge empty spaces, as opposed to 5 full days of back-to-back lectures. But you’ll soon learn that those gaps are there to be filled in with independent study!
Yes, there’s a mountain of independent work for you to be getting on with, but don’t presume that with PBL you are left completely in the dark. In reality, you do get a huge amount of guidance to help you through with it. For the first 2 weeks, we had 2 training cases so we could adjust to the PBL way of learning before starting the actual course content.
There are also lectures alongside PBL to help you through the week’s work. And as if that wasn’t enough, you’re provided with a whole bundle of resources to use and have access to the official learning objectives. You do have to do a lot of work independently, but you’re never doing it all. All PBL is just a more engaging and active way of learning!
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Universities that adopt PBL as the main teaching method tend to use a lot of small group teaching. I have an Anatomy group, a PBL group, a Communication group, PPD group and probably many more groups that I’m yet to be introduced to. You’re always talking to people around you, meeting and mixing with different people. In a way, you learn by talking and discussing various topics and that’s great because you’ll naturally be getting to know so many people on your course! This is a huge advantage of a PBL based course that isn’t often considered.
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Yes! That’s what everyone looks forward to, isn’t It? Doing an integrated course means that pretty early on you’ll be able to visit different clinical areas and make that crucial link between the bioscience you’ve been learning and the application of it on a patient. I’ve already had my first community GP placement, a hospital placement and I’ve got another GP visit coming up very soon. Most of you will know that an integrated course does have the clinical side to it, but many of you probably don’t appreciate how great that really is…it’s the highlight of the whole semester!
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Just trust me on this one. You’re doing so many different things every day and different things every single week that you simply can’t be bored. ‘Integrated’ courses take a case based approach, so you’ll get a new topic every week and you’ll learn every aspect of that really well. For me, it’s a really logical way to go about things and it helps all the different aspects of medicine to come together and tie up really nicely. It also means that you get a good mix of everything every week, so it keeps you engaged…and you just get to have a lot of fun with it!
Words: Masumah Jannah
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