Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yet another Team Based Learning (TBL) update

Bluedocs screenshot from the instructional video someone posted
We've finished up another week since my last update and I have to say that I am a huge fan of doing the individual quizzes (IRAs) at home. They are still timed and closed notes, but just being able to do them right after I've finished studying (instead of 12 hours later in class) has helped immensely. And we can find out how we did/the correct answers right after we take our IRA through the same website where we do all of our school stuff (it is called Bluedocs, sort of like the blackboard program most schools I am familiar with use).

I am getting used to streaming the lectures online, which I was worried about in the beginning. I have always gone to class so the idea of just watching the lectures online and holding questions until the TBL exercise was worrying. I think it is working out okay though. One of the medical students said, and I agree, that the daily IRA is very helpful because it forces the students to keep up with the material to a greater extent than just going to class everyday did (because being present in class doesn't necessarily mean that you're paying attention).

And keeping up with the streaming isn't overwhelming. All the students except me* were done with classes at noon yesterday and we only had two lectures to stream (they run around 50 minutes but most people I know stream them at 1.5 times normal speed). Today we had morning lab which finished at noon and an option TBL session that only ended being half an hour in the afternoon. I watched one lecture while I ate lunch and would have gotten through most of today's lectures in the PA room before I went home except I somehow ended up reviewing the slides with a classmate's autopsy slides and the resident that assists in their path lab. 

Have I mentioned the autopsy requirement? All of the medical and PA students are put together in groups of four or five and have to go watch an autopsy**. They are given copies of the clinical history and the slides for the case. They have to go over the slides and present the case and results to the rest of the lab. Each student must also submit a written autopsy report as well. Our autopsy group went pretty early in the process but are still waiting for our slides, so I went along with my classmate to see if the resident had them/was going to be done with them soon.

The case my group observed was fascinating which is likely the reason the slides are still out. Also it was a complete autopsy so the brain and the eyes were held for special cuttings (brains are done on Monday, eyes on Tuesday), which would have delayed things as well. My lab instructor is the pathologist who does the eye cutting and he had found a few noteworthy things, so we spent some lab time today going over it as a class and postulating about the cause of some of the things noted on autopsy. It was an impromptu clinical correlation sort of thing--where everyone tried to trace the source of some blood clot (we had clot formation information on our last test). We had some decent theories, but we'll have to wait for the official diagnosis to find out for sure!

*We are still continuing our clinical rotations*** in surg path through the spring, with the groups alternating weeks. The rest of my group went home because the instructor was sick but I was scheduled for the VA hospital and wasn't effected. The VA is nice because we show up during case sign outs, which are interesting.

**I think it is more for the medical students than it is for us, since we spent January on autopsy rotation. Some of the medical students are a lot less comfortable with the idea of an autopsy than others (and none of the ones in my group seem nearly as interested in our case as I am, but that might also be because they don't realize just how much there is with this case to be fascinated with...) so it is probably good for them to have this experience. And we all get practice writing up an autopsy report, which I have never had to do before.

***Although Pam did give us the option of suspending them if we felt overwhelmed with the streaming/TBL class format. We unanimously voted to keep them, because PA students love grossing! Still, it is awesome that our administration gave us the option!


  1. HA: "(because being present in class doesn't necessarily mean that you're paying attention)". Neither does sitting in front of a computer screen taking an IRA lol.

    After reading about all you do in this Master's program, it was a lot more involved than my undergraduate P.A. program. That's a very good thing, but at the same time, if I was in Duke's P.A. program, I would be thinking to myself: "Why the hell didn't I just go onto medical school?!" It would basically be almost the same thing!! That just adds additional fuel to my educationally ambitious fire. Wonderful

    1. Taking the IRA does require a bit more involvement since they are timed and graded so you put a bit more effort into them. Also when you're streaming the lectures and you realize that you weren't paying attention it is a lot easier to go back and re-watch what you missed. Asking a live lecturer to repeat the last five minutes of lecture is pretty much impossible but rewinding is simple :)

      I think it really depends on the program how classes are handled. From what I've read in Forrest's blog their classes are more traditional and were not with medical students. Do you know what Drexel is like yet?

      In our case it is very much like going to medical school (although we got to skip things like learning to read an EKG), but if I'd gone to medical school then I would have to be a doctor and I don't want to be a doctor--not even a pathologist. I like being in the gross room and while I am okay with microscopy I don't want to do it all day every day. :) I actually think PA is the perfect niche for me (which is why it works out so well that I'm going to school to be one lol).