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Integration of Neuroscience and Endocrinology in Hybrid PBL Curriculum

At the University of Missouri-Columbia, the medical school employs a problem-based learning curriculum that began in 1993. Since the curriculum was changed, student performance on step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination has significantly increased from slightly below the national average to almost one-half a standard deviation above the national mean. In the first and second years, classes for students are organized in classes or blocks that are 8 wk long, followed by 1 wk for evaluation. Initially, basic science endocrinology was taught in the fourth block of the first year with immunology and molecular biology. Student and faculty evaluations of the curriculum indicated that endocrinology did not integrate well with the rest of the material taught in that block. To address these issues, basic science endocrinology was moved into another block with neurosciences. We integrate endocrinology with neurosciences by using the hypothalamus and its role in neuroendocrinology as a springboard for endocrinology. This is accomplished by using clinical cases with clear neuroscience and endocrinology aspects such as CushingÂ’s disease and multiple endocrine neoplastic syndrome type 1.

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