Conducting Problem-Stimulated Learning In A Nepalese Medical School
Dr. P. Ravi Shankar,
KIST Medical College,
P.O. Box 14142 Kathmandu,Nepal.
Ph: 977-1-5201680 Fax: 977-1-5201496
The problem-based learning of Pharmacology and Therapeutics has been recommended as a key intervention towards promoting the more rational use of medicines (1). Problem stimulated learning (PSL) sessions in Pharmacology had been conducted at the Manipal College of Medical Sciences, Pokhara, Nepal (2). In this manuscript, the authors describe the initial experiences with problem-stimulated learning in Pharmacology in a new Nepalese medical school.
KIST Medical College
KIST Medical College is a new medical school in Lalitpur, Nepal, which is committed to excellence in holistic healthcare, education and research. The college admits 75 students to the MBBS course every year on the first of the Nepalese month of Magh (around mid-November). The department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics has the vision of creating doctors who can use essential medicines rationally and to inculcate in them the capacity to keep up to date with new developments in medicine and therapeutics. This department collaborates with the department of Medicine for achieving these objectives. PSL sessions were started right from the beginning and their aim is to develop in students, the capacity for self-directed learning, problem solving and working together in small groups.
In Nepal, Pharmacology is taught during the first two years of the undergraduate medical (MBBS) course in an integrated, organized, system based manner with other basic science subjects.
Comfortable Working Environment
Creating a comfortable â€˜workingâ€™ environment for the students was vital. Students were divided into two batches (each of around 37 students) for the Pharmacology PSL sessions. Each batch was further divided into five groups, each containing 7 or 8 students. The groups worked around an oval table (6 feet by 2 feet). Seating was provided in the form of plastic armless chairs which could be rotated and moved around freely. Chairs with arms were not used as these would occupy too much space and the arms could create a barrier between the group members. The sessions are usually held on Thursday and Friday afternoon for the two batches from 2 pm to 4 pm.
We decided to keep the groups constant for a year in order to facilitate group dynamics. Each group had been named after an eminent scientist or personality in Medicine/Pharmacology. The group names are Oslers (after Sir William Osler, the famous Canadian physician), Lasagnas (after Louis Lasagna, the American Clinical pharmacologist), Paracelsians (after Paracelsus), Abels (after John Abel, the father of American pharmacology) and Ehrlich (after Paul Ehrlich, the father of chemotherapy). The group name was prominently displayed on the work table along with the names of the group members. At the beginning of the year, each group had to prepare a biographical sketch of their â€˜group scientistâ€™. These write ups were prominently displayed in the lab. We believe that this helped to create a sense of identification and belonging among the group members. They also felt pride in their group being named after a prominent scientist.