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CASE STUDIES AS A MEANS OF ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
The case method can assist learners in developing the skills of self-learning, critical thinking, problem identification, and decision making. When case studies from this Casebook are used in the curricula of the healthcare professions or for independent study by practitioners, the focus should be on learning the process of identifying and resolving drug therapy problems rather than simply finding answers to the individual case questions. Students do learn scientific and clinical facts as they resolve case study problems, but they usually learn more from their own independent study and from discussions with their peers than they do from the instructor. Working through subsequent cases with similar problems reinforces information recall. Educational programs in the healthcare professions that rely heavily on traditional lectures tend to concentrate on dissemination of scientific and clinical content with rote memorization of facts rather than developing higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.
Case studies in the health professions provide the personal history of an individual patient and information about one or more healthcare problems that require resolution. The learner’s job is to collect the relevant patient information, assess that clinical data, develop hypotheses about the underlying cause of problems, consider possible solutions to problems identified, decide on and implement optimal solutions, perform follow-up to identify the consequences of one’s decisions, and then make adjustments in the plan as needed.1 The role of the teacher is to serve as coach and facilitator rather than as the source of “the answer.” In fact, in many situations, there is more than one acceptable answer to a given case question. Because instructors do not necessarily need to possess the correct answer, they need not be experts in the field being discussed if they enter the learning environment prepared to participate as engaged coaches. The students also become teachers of themselves and others, and both instructors and students learn from each other through thoughtful discussion of the case.
PREPARATION FOR LEARNING WITH PATIENT CASES
The patient cases in this Casebook can be used for independent self-learning by individual students and for in-class problem-solving discussions by student groups and their instructors. If meaningful learning and discussion are to occur, students must come to class sessions prepared to discuss the case material rationally, to make informed recommendations, and to defend their patient care plans. This requires a strong commitment to independent self-study prior to the session. The cases in this book were designed to correspond with the scientific and clinical information contained in the 11th edition of Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach.2 For this reason, thorough understanding of the corresponding textbook chapter is recommended as the principal method of student preparation. The McGraw-Hill online learning center AccessPharmacy (www.AccessPharmacy.com, subscription required) contains the ...