Case based learning with live patients - engaging students and community for effective learning
Traditionally case based learning (CBL) in a medical curriculum has taken the form of a paper case presented to a group of students in a tutorial room. In the first Phase of the new medical programme at the University of Wollongong we have chosen to have a patient volunteer and a clinician present the case history together in the form of a consultation. The aim of this study was to determine if this format was valuable to the students. Data was collected from a CBL based survey (n=53). Results indicate that 73% of students found it valuable to see a clinician take a history from a real patient and that the students identified the process of observation to help develop their skills in clinical decision making (71%) and history taking (51%). Having a patient present their history gave an “element of realism to the problem” and allowed students to “put a face to the case”. Students found it valuable to hear the different patients tell their story (70%). Only 20% of students found the process to be devalued even when the patient volunteer got confused in giving the history. Having a case presentation delivered by a patient volunteer and clinician together adds a level of complexity and reality to a CBL curriculum that is valued by the students. The gains are not just in the application of knowledge to the case but also in the demonstration of clinical practise and patient-clinician interactions that underpin the practise of medicine.