UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 11 | July
Faculty of Medicine treks to Nepal
University of Kathmandu adopts problem-based learning
by Hilary Thomson staff writer
A trekking trip to Nepal was the springboard for the Faculty of
Medicine's involvement with a new medical school at the University
Carol-Ann Courneya, an associate professor of Physiology who contributed
to the faculty's shift to its new problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum,
paid a visit to a University of Kathmandu colleague, Dr. Arjun Karki,
while on a trekking vacation last October.
Karki and other faculty members became very interested in the
Faculty of Medicine's learning approach and requested Courneya's
help in exploring innovative teaching strategies for Kathmandu University
Medical School (KUMS) which plans to admit its first 45 students
"This school is unique in Nepal," says Courneya, a UBC faculty
member since 1990. "It is privately funded but does not seek to
make a profit. Its goal is to produce doctors who are technically
competent and socially responsible."
This spring, Courneya travelled to Nepal with former Medicine
dean Bill Webber who helped UBC's medical school switch to the PBL
curriculum. Together with colleague Martha McGrew from the University
of New Mexico, they spent two weeks conducting PBL tutor training
and case-writing workshops for KUMS faculty.
UBC's approach, which uses a mixture of problem-based learning,
lectures and labs, was attractive to the Nepalese, says Webber.
"I was impressed with some very bright students," says Webber
of the young people who assisted in the workshops. "Their level
of knowledge at the high-school level was quite remarkable."
Most Nepalese students are educated using traditional teacher-centred
approaches and are accustomed to a strict formality between student
and teacher, says Courneya. When students role-played tutorials
with faculty members she was thrilled at how the students thrived
in the new learning environment.
"One student said that for the first time she was able to think
with her own mind, not her professor's mind," says Courneya, who
is a 3M Teaching Fellow and also holds a UBC Killam Teaching Prize,
as does Webber.
Representatives of KUMS made a recent visit to UBC while on a
tour of medical schools. Courneya and Webber arranged for information
sessions with dean of Medicine John Cairns, medical faculty and
administrators and Larry Sproul, director of UBC's International
UBC is developing a memorandum of understanding with KUMS to encourage
educational and intellectual exchange. UBC basic science and clinical
science professors or post-doctoral students who may be interested
in teaching at KUMS can contact Courneya for further information