Well, I thought I was going to love PBL, but now, after our first few sessions of it, I’m less sure! It has been really chaotic so far, with everyone rushing to participate, but no real focus as far as what questions we’re trying to answer.
I am also afraid that the age difference between me and most of my classmates has an especially strong influence in PBL. I’m ten years more jaded than most of them! I really don’t enjoy talking (especially if enthusiasm is required) about stuff I know nothing about–because I know EXACTLY how dumb I will feel 1 day, 1 week, and even 10 years later. I enjoy participating in discussions, but not when I feel like everyone is rushing to get their say in. Also, where are we getting our information during these sessions? Google!!
Has anyone else felt this way? Of course I really like my classmates–that’s not the problem–it’s just that I do kind of get the sense that I’m back in high school some times… Or maybe things will get more down to earth as the semester moves along. I hope so!
Well, I suppose I should get back to my assignment now…

Yup, and if you go back there was another post about this last year. PBL for the most part unless it is extremely well run and directed by a faculty member will become a huge waste of time. Because you will still have to pass boards and now “specific” stuff that PBL can totally eitehr bypass or go way into too much detail. This is why I chose a non-PBL type school. Good luck!

Pick up some USMLE review books to use as a guideline for what you should be covering. This was one of the biggest mistakes my class made during the first year. Having something to help your group focus will make your group meetings much more productive.
I would recomment Step-Up, High-Yield Systems Based Review for the USMLE I; also try First Aid for the step 1. Another good review book for pathology is Goljan’s Rapid Review. It comes with questions and a CD and covers a lot of what you’ll need. If you use these books to help figure out what you need to know for the boards, it will help stop some of the random approaches to your learning issues.
Also, if I could give one word of advice (as a former PBLer), it would be to spend time on pharmacology. First learn the drugs by class, then spend time on mechanisms of action and side effects. Those were the heaviest hit on the boards.
As for Google . . . well that’s okay for some things. But try places like StatRef.com or MDConsult for more appropriate peer reviewed material.
Good luck. Most of all, don’t despair. I think everyone in PBL always feels flustered and frustrated when they first start out!

That was how my first group was, talking over each other… We switch groups every semester the first year, and the second group was far better. Now that I’m with the third group, it is better still and we are all acking and thinking like doctors. We know what labs we want and why and what values we are expecting based on some of the differentials.
One thing we do is a wrap-up where each states how we all did. This could include performance, nicely confronting an overbearing member or overbearing facilitator. You may want to use this technique. Do not fear, PBL has shown to out-perform other methods, like lecture based, on the boards.
There is however a learning curve you all must go through, including picking the correct learning issues. Also, make sure that the students are in charge and NOT the facilitator

I understand your frustration.
I had PBL for my second year, traditional lectures for first year, and I learned far more with the PBL method. While there were times where it was difficult to get the right group dynamic, I found that it tended to get better as the group got into a flow. Sometimes we did have to just say, “Stop. This isn’t working for the group,” and we tried a different approach. That is one time when being older was an advantage, as I felt free to speak up and say what most of the group was thinking (although now that I think about it, my first group was a little older average age, which may have helped). Usually everyone was really happy to get any issues out in the open and move on.
Don’t worry, PBL WILL prepare you for boards. It’s been sucessful at many schools for many students. Just as importantly, it will prepare you for how you have to think and study in third year, and for the rest of your career. Give it a little time to let the group settle in.
And of course, feel free to vent here during those times when it doesn’t feel like its working!

Thanks everyone! Especially to Linda–thanks for those book suggestions! It helps me to think that I can approach this from a practical perspective rather than just caving in to frustration! I will start collecting those resources next week or the week after. I’m planning to start getting myself into a routine of some basic board exam prep then too.
I am also going to look up that discussion from last year too to see how it was going for people then. Today’s PBL was a little better than our previous sessions. Part of the problem is that our facilitator has been out sick all week. So maybe things will improve once he returns. Still, I am just really, really stressed about med school in general at the moment. I think I would prefer to absorb things a little more passively right now, and gain a little real knowledge before having to act like I know something.
I am glad to hear that people have found PBL to be a good way to learn and prepare for the boards. Hopefully my group will pull together soon! I’m already finding out that other members of the group feel the same way I do, and are hoping for the same kinds of changes.