There are as many ways to learn as there are learners in the world. Although several proven techniques are being emulated or replicated by students around the world, and certain curricula or professors may require specific focus and / or methodology in learning, the method (or rather the combination of methods) helps a student learn best varies from student to student. The time it takes students to understand certain concepts varies. their preferred learning techniques vary; the content itself varies; and the difficulty of the content varies from person to person.
For medical students, what they learn has a direct impact on the lives of others – their future patients. It is therefore particularly important that medical students learn not only the basic sciences, but also how to properly care for a patient.
Before medical students even enter a hospital for their first rotations, they all need to build a solid foundation. It is one thing to memorize the human anatomy or which drugs treat which problems, but it is another to be able to apply that knowledge to real situations and improvise when a patient does not react in a normal way. Though exams like that USMLE® or COMLEX-USA® When trying to test students for standardized patient care there is always room for variation. An important element of these two exams, as well as licensing exams from around the world, is directly related to patient care and patient interactions. For this part of medical studies (and future practice), a certain approach to learning is very suitable: problem based learning.
What is Problem Based Learning?
Problem-based learning or PBL is a method of learning and teaching that approaches information from a problem first. Rather than just teaching what students need to know and then hoping that they can put that information into practice, problem-based learning begins with a question (or, in this situation, most likely a clinical case). In a traditional classroom, students are then asked to review the possible outcomes and then continue with the course as normal (with the question in mind or as part of the “Roadmap” course) for information on the case, and exit The class time by answering the question. Alternatively, the question could be assigned as homework before the next class so students have the opportunity to work on it themselves and contribute to a class discussion later.
How does problem-based learning relate to learning?
Problem-based learning is not just reserved for the classroom: students can also use PBL in their free time to review concepts learned in class or through reading / learning on their own. In examinations such as USMLE or COMLEX, the students are tested for multiple-choice questions about patient vignettes. Students can Use a Qbank like a study guide about problem-based learning. How? It’s easy:
- Start a Qbank practice test on your preferred learning platform
- Take the test as a test (even if you get the answers wrong, keep going)
- Take a short break and prepare for a few hours of concentration
- Spend 2-3 hours reviewing your Qbank questions (both correctly and incorrectly answered questions), identifying which concepts you did not fully understand or took up to answer the questions, and reviewing them as well
- Make a list of questions that you still have about your content – perhaps a study partner, tutor or professor can help clarify these points for you
- Make a list of content that you need to review in your next study session
Rather than just studying information out of context, study the concepts you need to know as they relate to real-world situations that you might one day encounter as a practicing doctor.
Why should you use problem-based learning in your studies?
In elementary school or taking standardized tests, you may have learned that it is important to read the question first before reading any text so that you know what content or information you need to find in order to answer the question. The uses of problem-based learning for medical school aren’t all that different – of course, you need a solid foundation of medical knowledge first, but then you can start applying that knowledge.
Using a Qbank to study, and not just to prepare for exams, is one way to use PBL in your individual studies. Another way to incorporate problem-based learning into your learning routine is to create your own questions as you study. As you learn and study (especially newer) materials, write down quiz questions that you think will be asked to test the material. By the time you review later, you will already have a set of questions prepared to test your knowledge, or at least to focus your review.
Since everyone learns differently, problem-based learning may not be your preferred learning technique. However, as you advance your career in medicine, you will find that problem-based learning is the foundation of much of patient care. If you start PBL now, the only way you will be able to trade the simulation in for a real patient with a problem that you need to solve.
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