Doctoral thesis

May 3, 1996

I share the concerns expressed in the article "Job cuts to mean worse doctors" (THES, April 26). But why are so many medical schools opting for a curriculum based on problem-based learning ? This is a method which is virtually unproven in the United Kingdom, is extremely expensive in terms of staff time, requires staff with a very unique combination of knowledge and interests, demands very special library facilities and ideally would require a suite of tutorial rooms.

The old methods of teaching preclinical medical students were economical in terms of staff and yet provided a reasonable, if not ideal, education. My reading of the General Medical Council report Tomorrow's Doctors is that it recommends that the factual content of the curriculum be reduced and that there should be an element of PBL in the course. I agree. Why do our medical schools persist in making a difficult situation worse than it need be? It seems to be an example of the unrealistic pursuit of dogma for which academics are so ready to condemn the politicians.

Peter Campbell Department of Biochemistry University College London

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