Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

November 1, 2002 | Volume 3, Issue 3

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Medical School Introduces Innovative Curriculum

Not-My-Problem-Based Learning Draws Praise, Criticism

HAMILTON, CANADA--McMaster University, the Canadian medical school that revolutionized medical education with its "Problem-Based Learning" approach, has announced that it will shift to a slightly modified format this fall.

McMaster University

Dubbed "Not-My-Problem-Based Learning", the new curriculum approach confronts young doctors with clinical dilemmas, therapeutic conundrums, and ethical challenges, and then shows them how to weasel their way out of trouble by dumping the issues on colleagues.

Many medical practitioners have already praised the approach for providing young doctors with a skill-set that will remain relevant throughout their years of practice.

Dr. Hamish Pewtrill, Dean of Health Sciences, reflected on the change. "For years, we thought that the problem with medical education related to the fact that medical knowledge is ever-changing. So we tried to teach students to be problem-solvers and innovative thinkers. Now we've come to realize that it's just so much easier to duck the issues altogether. You wind up with a lot more free time."

Incoming students will spend September learning a number of different ways to avoid responding to pager messages, without being really obvious about it. More advanced students will learn how to turf complicated medical patients off on naive colleagues, while senior electives provide exposure to medico-legal issues, with a focus on getting others to take the blame for one's own misdeeds.

The new curriculum has its critics, as Dr. Pewtrill acknowledged. "We've got these touchy-feely relics running around the institution, spouting about ethics-this and personal responsibility-that. And I'm like: 'That is so not my issue.'"

If successful, it is likely that the approach will be adopted by other institutions.

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