Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Team Based Learning (TBLs) and blood serum levels

Yesterday we had our first Team Based Learning (TBL) session yesterday. The med students are broken up into groups of six students, but last year the PA students found that having all eight of them together made the group too large. Our class was split into two groups of four. The format is that we have an individual quiz, then do the same questions within our group and then we have an open book/open note/open internet group activity. There are some pretty strict guidelines about what I can and can't share from the TBL lessons, so to be safe I'm going to avoid mentioning content all together.

I was pretty proud of our team, we finished the team quiz before anyone else and got all the questions right. And we knew why the right answers were the right answers and why the wrong ones were wrong, so go us! I missed one question on my individual quiz that was just stupid, as in during the team assessment when we were answering the question I answered it correctly and was surprised when reviewing my personal quiz that I'd put what I put as my answer. All in all, not bad.

The team activity was a bit strange since it was geared towards future medical practitioners, but kind of interesting. We got it all done within the time limit and received full marks for it, so I assume we put enough actual information down that our answers were decent.

The activity does couch questions more in terms of clinical applications, so TBLs allow us to have an idea of real world implications of the information we are currently studying. Although, being honest at this particular point in the course the scenarios that could be given to us would be more suited to the Md/PhD future research scientists track because we're still pretty mired deep in biochem/cell biology.

Also, while going back and looking over the material from last week in preparation of our tutoring session on Thursday (have I mentioned this? I don't think I have...) I remembered that one of our lecturers wants us to memorize the levels of normal blood serum components so that we can better serve our patients in the future. I will do it, because it might be on the test, but I will be grumpy about it. I am pretty sure if you are a physician whose specialty requires you to regularly base clinical decisions on your patient's blood serum levels then you memorize it soon enough through use, and if you're in any other specialty (and I can think of several off the top of my head) that doesn't require you to habitually exam your patient's blood serum levels then you could look up the information if you need it.

But that is just my opinion and I am probably just irritated about it because I'm afraid memorizing that table will take up precious space in my head potentially driving out some other more important information. :-)

So tutoring session on Thursday... because this is our first test and we don't really know what to expect and because they want us to pass and do well, we have a mandatory group tutoring session. It lets us meet one of the tutors and makes us aware of the resources available to us, etc. I'm interested to see how it goes. I know she will be asking us some questions on the material and it will be good to have something to use to gauge my understanding.


  1. Ooh! Did you say... blood levels? That's a topic I know a thing or two about!

    I bet you'll need the knowledge later on in your pathology endeavor anyhow. Understanding and correctly interpreting lab results is a critical part of diagnosis, and as a Pathologists' Assistant, you will be part of the diagnostic and laboratory team. Might as well learn it now. Good luck with your memorization!

    Which analytes does the professor wish you to learn? I'm guessing those on a CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel)--electrolytes, glucose, kidney function, liver function, etc--for starters.

  2. It was mostly electrolytes and glucose. I'm sure you've got the values all down pat :-) But you probably work with them daily too!

    I guess I am biased because I worked for a reference lab where our pathologists were usually just given a one or two word clinical history (ex: GERD, BCC, or DUB). Probably in a hospital setting the pathologists have a greater variety of specimens with more occult illnesses.

  3. Electrolytes and glucose--that's not too bad.

    I've never worked in anatomic pathology (I spent all of 1 day observing in the grossing room as an intern), so for all I know you won't need to know anything about clinical pathology & blood testing. But I imagine it would be useful in really understanding the diseases. But, then, I'm a biased lab scientist.