Learning Through Case Problems
Previous postings on this blog pointed to a number of different memory methods useful for rapid learning in medical school:
Of course, once you use one or more of these methods it helps to review the information. For certain subjects it also helps considerably to invest extra time to practice cases that put the information together into a clinically coherent whole.
For instance, in neuroanatomy, after learning particular structures in anatomy, it is important to practice clinical cases where you can combine this information to determine where in the nervous system a patient’s problem lies.
The subject of acid-base, fluids, and electrolytes contains a bewildering array of facts that have to be organized and put together in order to apply to a case. What is the diagnosis? What is the treatment? Which fluid bottles should you hang up? Case examples help consolidate this information for application to a patient.
In cardiology, it is not enough to just read a chapter on EKGs. The real learning comes on practicing the interpretation of EKGs with many examples.
In psychiatry, clinical cases help to fine-tune what medications and dosages to use for the individual psychiatric disorders.
In some medical curricula, students in the first two years of medical school do divide into groups that discuss individual case problems. This approach can be helpful for the particular case situation, but there is a drawback when a case takes up too much time in the group. There are so many case situations that have to be mastered, and spending too much time on just a bare few can be an inefficient use of time.
Try to use textbooks that include case problems in those subjects in which it is important to bring diverse facts together to diagnose and treat patients. Case problems alone, however, are insufficient to learn a subject. You also need a background in the subject before approaching the clinical problems.
MedMaster has a number of books that include case problems for those areas mentioned above:
Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple
Acid-Base, Fluids, and Electrolytes Made Ridiculously Simple
Clinical Cardiology Made Ridiculously Simple
Clinical Psychopharmacology Made Ridiculously Simple
Which do you prefer – eBooks or print books? MedMaster is considering converting a number of its titles to eBooks and is interested in your opinion as to the usefulness to medical students of eBooks, compared with print books.