Problem Based Learning By Duong Danh Nguyen Hien

PBL (problem based learning) is a common method of learning and teaching for medical students in the US. In this class, the teacher and students hold discussions about patient problems for the purposes of equipping the students with important clinical skills and learning how to think like a physician.

On 27th February 2019, Tan Tao University (TTU) organized the PBL classes for the 3rd year medical students with Dr Ernest F. Talarico (Associate Professor, Anatomy and Cell Biology Site Director, Human Structure) of Indiana University.

This method of study and teaching is very popular among American universities or colleges. This method is new, interesting, and fascinating to medical students in Vietnam, especially for third year medical students. The reason is that they have just begun to learn about clinical issues and the way how to approach a patient.

At the first session of the PBL class, the students or learners will be presented with the medical history of the patient, and then the faculty will guide them on how to investigate that patient’s particular problems. At first, the students play the role of the doctor while the faculty plays the role of the patient. The faculty demonstrates to the students how to ask questions concerning diagnosis and treatment. After that, students determine which tests will be needed for the patient. Then the test results will be shown, and then the students will define the diagnosis and provide the treatment options for that patient.

In the PBL course, Professor Talarico also teaches the student examination skills, and how to use equipment such as a stethoscope. Communication skills are very important and are also taught to the students. This helps them in many ways, such as how to discuss information with a patient, how to provide bad as well as good news, and how to feel more comfortable and confident in speaking in front of a group and discussing issues with each other.

Professor Talarico also introduces to the students images produced by nuclear medicine, which hasn’t been well developed in Vietnam.

At the conclusion of the lesson, Dr. Talarico summarizes what the students have learned and suggests topics and terminology for further study.