A Snapshot of the Status of Problem-Based Learning in U. S. Medical Schools, 2003–04


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Abstract

PurposeAlthough the use of problem-based learning (PBL) is widespread in U.S. medical schools, its true prevalence is unknown. This study examined the prevalence of PBL in preclinical curricula.MethodIn 2003, a Web-based questionnaire was sent to education deans or directors of medical education at the 123 Liaison Committee on Medical Education-accredited medical schools in the United States. The respondents indicated whether or not they were using PBL and what percentage of faculty–student contact hours in the preclinical years used PBL.ResultAll 123 schools responded. Of them, 70% used PBL in the preclinical years. Of schools using PBL, 45% used it for less than 10% of their formal teaching, while 6% used it for more than half of their formal teaching. Of the 30% of schools not using PBL, 22% had used it in the past, and 2% had plans to incorporate it in the future.ConclusionsUse of PBL is widespread in the preclinical curricula of U.S. medical schools. That use is limited, however, since fewer than 6% of programs use it for more than 50% of their instruction.

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