Besides didactic learning that takes places through lectures, we have 3-hour long tutorials twice a week. These tutorials are supervised by a medical professional who is able to guide us through the patient case. Their task is to not teach constantly throughout the time but to intervene when required and serve as the expert opinion within the group. Most of the learning takes places amongst the students who teach one another. The philosophy of the tutorial is to create a safe, no-judgment zone, where the goal is to learn.
Each tutorial group consists of 7-8 students and we often come from a variety of different undergraduate programs. I have been in tutorial groups with individuals from social sciences and business backgrounds! This diversity helps ensure that we look at all aspects of the patient case presented and not just the pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases included. Learning in these tutorials is facilitated by learning objectives. These are things that we decide as a group we would want to explore given the case. For example, for a patient case that is about Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, we would want to investigate the disease in its entirety but also compare it to the other leukemias, explore how management differs between children and adults and find tangible methods to counsel parents who are going through this illness experience with their child.
At the beginning of the tutorial, we would set these sort of objectives for either 1 or 2 cases that we would be reviewing the following tutorial. We would then move onto sharing the information we gathered for the previous set learning objectives. This is an interesting part of the tutorial as everyone brings something different to the table. Some students explore different resources, some share clinical experiences or some focus more on the psychosocial or public health aspects of the case. This makes for an extremely enriching tutorial discussion. Finally, we go through the case line by line and discuss differential diagnoses, rationales behind ordering tests, what we expect the tests to show and the tutor provides relevant clinical pearls.