Last Tuesday was our last day of class for this second course of the Toxicology masters. Named Target Organ Toxicity and worth 15 credits it was a two-month class full of PBLs for each different organ.
But, what is PBL?
Before coming to Sweden, I had never officially heard about this pedagogy method known as Problem-Based Learning. This method consists of the teacher giving a group of students, of around 4 to 5 members, a problem that has to be solved. The students have to organize themselves on their own and decide what information is necessary and relevant to solve the case and explain the mechanism behind everything mentioned.
Each week was focused on a different common target organ such as the liver, heart, nervous system, kidney and endocrine system. We started each week with basic physiology lectures that then were followed by the solving of the PBL case.
In addition to these more “traditional” weeks, we had some extra subjects:
– Cancer week: it consisted of all lectures and finished with a short test, very common in Sweden, to test our knowledge in a short and quick exam.
– Immune system assignment: also started with lectures but instead of an official PBL, we had to analyze a toxicological report.
– Acute toxicology: one of the most interesting parts from my point of view. It was focused on toxinology (study of toxins and their acute effect) and really interesting lectures of catastrophe toxicology. These last lectures were really interactive and fun because we had to prepare PowerPoint presentations about famous catastrophes and we finished with a “test” in class, as if it were a TV show, with remote controls in class and everything.
– Skin day: a day full of lectures centered on analyzing the problems associated to skin toxicology.
– Lung week: this week started out with basic lectures about physiology and different testing methods. In addition, we had a visit to the labs to see how things were really done in real life. Really useful because we got to see how things actually worked. Here we also had to solve a case and analyze the result of different tests.
During this course you can love PBLs or hate them. Some people don’t enjoy working in a group or doing their own information research. Others really find it useful to participate actively in the building of their own knowledge and have fun while discussing with other team members. However, no matter if you enjoy this method or not, I would suggest you get the best of it. This is a unique experience that is not so common in other countries and a great opportunity to understand new types of working. Also, it is useful to get a glimpse of how the real world works, where we will always have to face teamwork at some point of our lives.
To conclude, I would like to mention one of our toxicology family members, Lilian, an exchange student from the University of Utrecht that has been with us during this course. As a toxicology student at KI you have the opportunity to participate in exchange programs with the universities in Leiden and Utrecht. I really hope she enjoyed her adventure at KI and in Stockholm and just to remind you that this is not a goodbye, just a see you later!