Thursday, October 13, 2011

First encounter - My first PBL session

Ever since I reported for duty 2 months ago, I have not actually had much contact with the students. This is because, I am sort of in "no man's land" while waiting for my Masters viva and subsequently registering for my PhD. Therefore, I am almost an anonymous entity walking the corridors of IIUM Kuantan campus sans the spooky music and levitating, of course. 

Yesterday however, I had my very first encounter with actual students. I was asked to stand in as a last minute replacement to handle a PBL (problem based learning) session for the 2nd Year Medical Students. PBLs are part of the medical syllabus where small groups of students are given a clinical scenario and problems which they have to discuss and subsequently reach a diagnosis. PBLs are an interactive and interesting way to encourage good thought process, correlate lectures with real situations and also hone presentation skills. I spent the morning refreshing my memory going over the case and making sure that my basic knowledge was up to par (we all get a bit rusty at times, usually by the time we graduate, work and further our studies, the minute details we learned ten years ago are not as fresh in our minds as they are in those of students who just heard that lecture a few days ago). 

The students were surprised to see me, probably because they had no idea who I was. I broke the ice by introducing myself and telling them that I too was literally once in their shoes. In fact since they are currently the 14th batch of IIUM medical students, I am exactly 10 years their senior (gosh! I feel so old). I also came armed with a bribe, sweets to be used only in emergencies such as an irrepressible urge to fall asleep. 

Initially, they were very timid but after a while, they started coming out of their shells, asking questions to each other and me. I tried to tie in what we were learning with real situations I had faced before in the hospital when dealing with patients, not only to make the session more interesting but to show that stuff we learn in a little room on an overcast Wednesday afternoon can actually serve them well when they become doctors themselves. So instead of just a straightforward and mundane series of presentations, we had demonstrations, questions, anecdotes, lame jokes (mostly from me) and all in all a good learning experience. 

I ended the session by telling them how much I used to enjoy my PBLs when I was a medical student because I was fortunate enough to have a great group, great lecturers and we fully utilized our PBLs by making them as interactive, informative and even fun as we could. 

I hope the students had as beneficial a session as I did. Maybe I am a bit more unconventional then they are used to, hopefully I didn't scare them haha. Am looking forward to next week. I wonder how they will feel when they see that it's me again ;)


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