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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 416-426

Student-Developed Problem-Based Learning Cases: Preparing for Rural Healthcare Practice

1 Rural Health Interdisciplinary Program and Occupational Therapy Graduate Program, University of New Mexico, New Mexico, USA
2 Occupational Therapist, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Correspondence Address:
Betsy Vanleit
Health Sciences Center, Occupational Therapy Graduate Program, MSC09 5240, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Introduction: The need for health professionals is acute throughout rural communities worldwide. The Rural Health Interdisciplinary Program (RHIP) successfully trains health professional students for practice in rural USA. Student-developed problembased learning (PBL) cases are a central feature of the RHIP and an important educational focus of learning. Methods: This retrospective study was designed to describe 222 PBL cases developed by health professional students in the RHIP. The analysis focused on the extent to which student-developed cases reflect demographics and health conditions of rural New Mexico, as well as how successfully cases reflect rural interdisciplinary healthcare issues and practices. Results: The PBL cases do reflect rural New Mexico in terms of population demographics, certain health problems and complexity of health issues. The cases appear to address interdisciplinary, rural clinical concerns. However, the cases are less effective at raising issues related to public health, financial, legal and ethical issues, and other nonmedical health topics. Conclusions: In order to strengthen attention to non-medical issues, PBL groups should have broad interdisciplinary membership, special case development training, and faculty encouragement to address a wide variety of health-related topics. Student-developed PBL cases appear to be an interesting way for health professional students to learn about rural healthcare issues and could be used in a variety of different educational settings.

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