Curriculum Level 1: Foundations
Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., begins a session during the first-year Nutrition, Metabolism and Gastrointestinal Systems course with a basic question: “Bile. What is it good for?” Students sit in small groups at tables throughout the room—
electronic tablets at the ready. Conversation picks up as the groups begin to confer and list all of the functions of bile. Along with Jill Sullivan, M.D.’04, associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterologist, Wilcox stops to
answer questions as she walks between tables.
“Dr. Lidofsky’s video is fantastic,” Wilcox says, referring to the work of a fellow faculty member who created pre-learning material for the session. She encourages students
to think back to its main points. When students reconvene, and the conversation is again directed by Wilcox and Sullivan, there are moments when pop culture meets the finer points of liver function. Actress Kirsten Dunst makes an appearance in a GIF
as a visual cue for one of bile’s key roles (Dunst waving good-bye=bile eliminating toxins and metabolic waste). Then, their final project for the day: With colored markers and large sheets of paper, students are drawing out the metabolism of
bilirubin, a key process in a properly functioning liver.
“Having a strong handle on normal is the key to recognizing and understanding abnormal,” says Wilcox, noting that this work sets the stage for a later team-based session
focused on clinical cases.
As students hash out bilirubin metabolism together and come up with creative ways to communicate it, they’re reinforcing what they learned ahead of class and taking it one step further.
meet them exactly where they are,” says Sullivan. “We try to help them work through the entire metabolic process in preparation for clinical application.”
Students coming to the session having already completed some work
on their own is important, says Wilcox, who is course director and an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. Individual and Group Readiness Assurance Tests can be done prior to class or built into sessions.
pre-work is the foundational knowledge and the vocabulary,” she says. “Then when we apply that to a real case scenario, a real patient, we’re all speaking the same language.”
Once the pieces come together, student
learning takes off.
“Their higher order thinking in the classroom sometimes just amazes me,” she says. “It’s almost like you release this potential in the room.”