Background: The implementation of a system based, integrated curriculum at the Faculty of Health Sciences of Stellenbosch University, Western Cape, South Africa, resulted in less contact time for the pathology disciplines during theoretical modules, while a weekly rotation in pathology was introduced during clinical training in the fourth and fifth years.
Objective: To describe a problem based approach for this rotation.
Methods: Students are presented with a clinical “paper” case daily, integrating as many of the pathology disciplines as possible to demonstrate the interdependence of the various disciplines. They receive chemical pathology tutorials, visit the various laboratories, and receive practical training in fine needle aspiration biopsy. On the final day, the case studies are assessed and discussed.
Results: Most students appreciated all activities. This rotation enhanced student interactivity and autonomy and guaranteed immediate feedback. On evaluation of the rotation it was found that the students enjoyed the rotation, learnt something new, and realised the value of group work.
Conclusions: This innovation integrates pathology with clinical practice and illustrates the use of laboratory medicine in the management of common diseases seen in this country. Students appreciate learning practical skills and having to request special investigations under a pathologist’s supervision changes their approach to pathology requests. Familiarity with the pathology environment empowers the student to use pathology with greater ease. A bank of case studies that can be expanded to include all medical disciplines will facilitate the application of a problem based approach and enhance communication between the basic science disciplines and the clinical and pathology disciplines.
- FNA, fine needle aspiration
- PBL, problem based learning
- medical education
- case studies
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