Problem-based learning is at the heart of Hull York Medical School’s education philosophy. Led by clinicians, it is one of the many strengths of the curriculum, offering a lively, interactive and enjoyable way to build your knowledge. Your problem-based learning tutor, who is an experienced doctor as well as your academic and pastoral tutor, supports and guides the group, helping you to learn in a clinically relevant context.
Problem-based learning requires initiative, motivation, and a readiness to work in partnership with others, but the rewards are great. You won’t find yourself wondering ‘Why do I have to learn this?’ because the areas you focus on will be relevant to the virtual patient’s case. It also means you will use the language of medicine to discuss cases right from the start of your undergraduate course.
In this context you can form strong relationships, learn how to communicate effectively in a group and work as part of a team to tackle problems; developing skills which will be invaluable throughout your medical career. PBL is challenging, engaging, sociable and fun. Because you'll be learning actively throughout the year, you'll find yourself more easily recalling what you've studied – so there should be no nasty shocks when the exams come around.
You'll meet at the start of the week with a group of about eight other students plus your facilitator. This same group will work together every week for the whole year, which means that you'll get to know each other and understand how to work effectively together. Each week, all the problem-based learning groups in your year will be working on the same cases. With guidance from your facilitator, you'll tackle problems raised by 'virtual patients' in a fictional medical setting. Each new topic will be introduced to your group through these virtual patients. For instance, starting work on the respiratory and circulatory systems, you'll meet Harry Flemming, a heavy smoker with a persistent, hacking cough, and Hilary Jones, a student whose voice has become hoarse. The aim of your first session won't be to solve these patients' problems, but rather to find out what you need to know to understand the problem fully. You'll work as a group to identify all the issues or learning outcomes that each problem raises. For most of the rest of the week, you'll explore these issues through plenary sessions, resource sessions, clinical skills teaching, clinical placement and your own individual study – all closely related to the topic you're working on. Later in the week, your group will meet again with your facilitator to share and discuss what each of you has discovered, consolidating the key information.
Problem-based learning is led by specialist facilitators. Each facilitator works with the same group throughout the year, getting to know you and guiding your learning. Our facilitators are all experienced clinicians who will offer you excellent support and guidance as you adapt to new ways of learning at university. Your educational facilitator will also be your personal tutor, so you'll always have a familiar face to turn to for advice about any issues which arise - personal, academic or professional. Your learning each week will be supported by lectures, workshops and resource sessions, all integrated closely with clinical skills sessions and clinical placements in both hospitals and general practice. You will also be guided by our detailed course materials, including a detailed study guide for each topic you cover.
Since scientific knowledge continues to expand at enormous speed, keeping pace with this is a huge challenge for today's medical professionals at all stages of their career. So clinical reasoning, critical thinking and ongoing self-directed learning skills are crucial to your success as a doctor. PBL helps you to develop all these skills. Because your learning is contextualised around patients and clinical issues from the very beginning, you'll always know exactly what you're learning and why it's relevant. Traditional subject boundaries are removed, allowing you to apply your knowledge right from the outset and integrate your studies with your clinical experience too.