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Problem based learning group

Problem based learning

Possessing strong communication and problem-solving skills is essential to providing exceptional, patient-centred care. This is why we place problem based learning at the heart of our curriculum.

Introduction

What is problem based learning?

The main emphasis of problem based learning (PBL) is on small group working, centred – as the name implies – around a ‘problem’ or scenario. These scenarios are hypothetical patient cases.

PBL allows you to form strong relationships, learn how to communicate effectively in a group and work as part of a team to tackle problems – developing skills that will be invaluable throughout your medical career.

Our PBL groups are facilitated by experienced clinicians with a passion for education, who will facilitate and guide your learning while also providing pastoral care and support. You will benefit from their experience in hospitals and GP practices, as they provide real-life clinical context for the situations you discuss as a group, while also helping you to learn professional values and behaviours.

Students in a problem based learning session
Students in a problem based learning session
Students in a problem based learning session
Dr Marie Cohen, Director of Problem Based Learning

HULL YORK MEDICAL SCHOOL Stories

As a doctor, I understand how challenging it is to keep up to date with rapidly advancing scientific knowledge. Throughout my career clinical reasoning, critical thinking and ongoing self-directed learning skills have been critical to my success – enabling me to deliver the best possible care to my patients. Problem based learning has enabled me to develop these skills and by teaching PBL I aim to support future doctors to deliver outstanding care to their patients.
Director of Problem-Based Learning, GP and Macmillan GP Facilitator

Dr Marie Cohen

Who is in your PBL group?

You will join a small group of 10-12 students supervised by a facilitator, who is an experienced clinician. You will stay with this same group throughout your first year of study, before joining a new PBL group in your second year.

Your PBL facilitator also delivers your clinical and communication skills sessions, as well as acting as your main pastoral contact, ensuring you settle into life as a medical student while progressing through the programme.

You will work very closely with your PBL group and clinical tutor, tackling different learning points, discussing issues, sharing knowledge and developing an understanding of key concepts together. Your group will spend a lot of time together, which is a great way to develop team-working skills and make new friends.

Students in a problem based learning session
Students in a problem based learning session

Testimonial

Mai Nguyen

Year 4 student

My first year PBL tutor was a consultant neurosurgeon, and my second year tutor was a junior doctor in elderly medicine; hearing about their experiences in clinical practice was really helpful. Problem based learning has helped me to develop my logical thinking and clinical reasoning skills, and taught me to apply knowledge rather than simply remembering it.
Problem based learning group
Students in a problem based learning session

What happens in a PBL session?

  • At the start of each week, your PBL group will be presented with a hypothetical patient case study. Investigating this problem will require you to explore a range of disciplines – such as applied life sciences, health in society, professionalism and ethics – which reflects the complexity of treating real-life patients. You'll work as a group to identify all the issues and to find out what you need to know to understand the problem fully.
  • Throughout the week, your anatomy sessions, clinical placements, clinical and communication skills sessions, lectures, workshops, and your own self-directed learning will provide opportunities to deepen your understanding of the issues raised by the PBL case.
  • Later in the week, your group will meet in a second PBL session, where you will share and discuss what you have discovered and learnt throughout the week, clarify your understanding, and consolidate the key information under the guidance of your clinician tutor. 

This integrated approach, centred on PBL, and grounded in a robust scientific understanding, strong clinical knowledge and highly developed clinical reasoning skills, allows you to develop life-long skills that will be crucial to your success as a doctor.