Friday, October 06, 2006

Cardiomyocyte Lab, PBL, POD, and Portfolios

Today was another busy day. In the morning, we visited another lab that studies contraction in heart muscle cells. The difference between this lab and the one we visited on Wednesday is that the other lab studies contraction in entire heart muscles, while this lab studies contraction in single muscle cells, which are called myocytes. We were actually able to see some individual myocytes contracting under the microscope, and it was pretty wild to watch. Besides looking at individual cells, this lab also looks at whole hearts, and we saw another experiment using rat hearts where they were testing their contraction after adding different drugs.

When we returned to the education building, we had our third PBL session. This time, we managed to avoid going over our time, and in fact we even had some extra time at the end to talk about how the week had gone. The facilitator gave us a checklist of objectives, and we went through them as a group to discuss whether we had covered them either during PBL, in seminar, or both. We found that we had covered almost all of the objectives during PBL, and the few that we hadn't covered ourselves were covered during the seminars.

Normally, we'd be done with school for the day at this point, but since it's Friday, we had one additional class, called Process of Discovery (POD). POD is a research seminar series where various faculty come and describe their research to us. The school provides us with lunch, and we each take turns being moderators for the speakers. Since there are 32 of us and 32 speakers, we will each be moderator for one seminar during the course of the year. What you have to do as moderator is get a copy of the speakers's CV, write up a brief biosketch and turn it in to be posted on the portal, help the speaker set up for their talk and check out the microphone for them, and introduce them before they start speaking. At the end, if there is time for questions, the moderator is in charge of handling the question period and coming up with questions if none of the audience does. But there were plenty of questions yesterday, and the speaker's heart transplant beeper even went off toward the end of the talk to let her know that a heart was available, so it was all very exciting. She was the same physiologist whose lab we visited on Wednesday.

After POD, we had another session to help us with managing our portfolios. Our first formative portfolio summary essays are due on the 19th, so it's getting to be time to start working on them. We have four competencies to consider: research, professionalism, medical knowledge, and communication, along with personal development. We will be doing three of these formative portfolios this year, one after each of the first three blocks. At the end of the fourth block, we will be doing a summary portfolio, and that's the one that the Medical Student Promotions and Review Committee uses to decide whether we get to go on to the second year of medical school.

By the way, if you're interested in seeing our portal, you can, kind of. Click on this link for the CCLCM portal, and type "guest" as both your user ID and password. You won't be able to see all of the features that the students see, including the portfolios. But at least you can get an idea of what the portal is like so that you'll know what I'm talking about when I mention it. If you look at the bottom left, you'll see a listing for the class of 2011 course syllabus. We're doing the second block right now, which is Cardiology/Pulmonology/Hematology I. Click on that link, and it will tell you about the block. If you want to see what our PBL cases are like, from the main portal page, click on the link that says "sample PBL." You will see the same sample PBL case on cystic fibrosis that we did for practice before break last month.

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