Integrating Problem-based Learning Into An Internal Medicine Residency Curriculum

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Ochsner Journal


Background: Problem-based learning (PBL) is a form of constructivist learning that allows learners to use higher order thinking by promoting learners to construct their own knowledge and understanding. PBL is prevalent in medical school education, but literature on PBL in graduate medical education (GME) is lacking. Because of the limited amount of data on PBL curricula in GME and the need for young physicians to develop critical thinking, lifelong self-directed learning, and problem-solving skills, we sought to incorporate PBL into the curriculum for our internal medicine residency program in a university-based community hospital setting. Methods: The PBL committee created 4 cases derived from actual patient encounters that address common chief complaints encountered in the hospital and served as a crash course curriculum for interns in internal medicine. The success of the PBL curriculum was measured using a 39-question survey created by PBL leadership to assess the learners’ satisfaction with case content, likeability/design, feasibility, effectiveness, and motivation/self-learning. Additional questions asked for ways to improve PBL sessions in the future. Results: Overall, interns felt the content was clinically relevant, challenged them to think critically, and aided in the medical management of their patients. They also found PBL to be more effective and more enjoyable than the traditional lecture-style curriculum. Conclusion: Implementing a PBL curriculum in a residency program is possible. Although PBL has associated challenges such as scheduling, it is well received when supported by the program.

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