Saturday, June 28, 2008

#18: Small groups

As previously mentioned, small group is a problem-based learning environment within the larger framework of the school curriculum. The entire med class will be broken up into these different small groups, so you'll only be working with about ten other classmates of yours. Small group is generally agreed upon to be worthless, for a number of reasons. For one thing, the issues dealt with in small groups are rarely if ever related to the material in lecture. They deal more with the touchy-feely aspects of medical care, like people's opinions on stuff. Since other people's opinions are just as ill-informed and self-serving as your own, there is no way that being forced to hear these opinions will ever benefit you in any way.

However, this in itself would not be a bad thing; in fact, if done properly, it would be a welcome break from the rigors of medical school. The real problem with small group is that the questions you are given to deal with are just plain irrelevant. They are not related to the material you cover in lecture, and they will not improve your abilities as a physician. For example, many of the questions will ask you to look up statistics for prevalences of different diseases, which are completely unrelated to the presentation and treatment of the disease. You will also be asked to look up random health code policies, which won't have any significance to you until you finally get your medical degree and start practicing medicine.

For these reasons, remember not to waste too much time preparing for these sessions; there is always an easy way to fulfill your obligations for any given session. For example, if you are asked to design an interactive project to present information about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy to the other group members, all you have to do is find a clip of the funeral scene from The Sixth Sense on YouTube, and then have your classmates discuss afterwards. Spending any more than 10 minutes preparing for a given small group session is a complete waste of energy, and a sign that you should work on your time management.

As with anatomy lab, it is quite likely that you will find yourself in a small group with an overly ambitious classmate. Identify who these people are early, then make sure to be the one to delegate tasks whenever you are assigned to work with them. This will require some cognizance on your part, but it will be well worth it if you can keep interactions with them to a minimum. Be sure to be as agreeable as possible in your messages! Nothing gets small group instructors involved more quickly than a few of their students in a heated email exchange.

1 comment:

Aliyo said...

Lol, if only I had thought about the "agreeable" interaction before.