Today was a momentous occasion in terms of my career as a medical student. I have been counting down to today for the past 8 weeks at least! In fact, it was a cause for celebration for at least 8 of us, although only 4 bothered to turn up. Have you guessed yet? Today was my last ever PBL session, the last 2 hours of problem based learning I'll hopefully ever have to endure (at least as a student).
I was going to bring cake, and even champagne to celebrate the occasion but I'm not sure hospital is the best place for alcohol and I couldn't find any suitable cakes. As it turned out, only 4 of us turned up anyway, quite sad really that final session was more of a damp squib than anything else, not that PBL is much more than that in the first place.
The session itself was more a small tutorial than a classical PBL, saying that, we've not done 'textbook' PBL for years. I'm just happy I never have to waste 2 more hours of my life sat in a room trying to teach each other medicine from the titbits of knowledge we've all cobbled together from various sources. It is quite ironic that such emphasis is placed on group learning and PBL, where we're encouraged to help each other to learn, only to be examined and assessed against each other when it comes to exams and ultimately ranked against each other when it comes to job applications. I can't quite understand that logic.
I must have done a couple of hundred hours of PBL in the last 5 years and I can probably count on one hand the number of useful sessions. I can't even remember how PBL is supposed to be done, it is that long since we followed the proper steps. I'm still very much of the opinion that PBL doesn't work as an exclusive method of teaching medical students. I think there are huge gaps in some of our knowledge, some of us more than others of course. Sadly too much time, effort and money has been put into developing such a course that even if those that be wanted to revert to a more traditional style, it would be far from easy.
Who knows, perhaps in a few years I'll be proved wrong and it'll be the PBL trained doctors leading the way, unfortunately I just can't see it happening that way. I expect that once more evidence becomes available, PBL will be shown to be the pointless, farcical waste of money that it is.
In the mean time, I'll rest safe in the knowledge that the words "time for PBHell" will never again cross my lips!
Tuesday, 22 April 2008