Learning of medical pharmacology via innovation: a personal experience at McMaster and in Asia. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Pharmacology, a discrete preclinical discipline of the traditional medical curriculum, identifies itself distinctly different from the other preclinical or clinical subjects in knowledge base as well as learning/teaching instructions. It exists in series with other pre-clinical courses (e.g., anatomy, biochemistry and physiology), and in parallel with other paraclinical courses such as pathology, microbiology and community medicine. Such arrangement makes learning of pharmacology rather difficult and deficient with regard to its therapeutic relevance and clinical application. In recent years, medical curricula based on clinical cases have emerged as a platform in which pharmacology is one integrated component in a holistic approach to medical education. In this problem-based learning (PBL) model, students learn, with teachers' facilitation, in a student-centered environment, based on self-directed, clinically relevant and case-oriented approach, usually in a small-group tutorial format. In PBL, pharmacology is learned in concert with other subject issues relevant to the case-problem in question, such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, population health, behavior science, etc. Students learn via problem-evoked curiosity and motivation, in an environment which encourages free inquiries and intensive discussions in a cooperative rather than competitive atmosphere. Teachers facilitate students' learning objectives rather than deliver pre-packed knowledge and dictate what they think students should learn. A change towards PBL curriculum appears to be beneficial in better preparing the medical students as life-long learners capable of coping with changes in knowledge and skills associated with the progressive and dynamic social/economic transformation in the Asia-Pacific regions. Evidence is presented that this is indeed happening.

publication date

  • September 2004