In Japan, problem-based learning (PBL) is a relatively new method of educating medical students that is reforming the face of medical education throughout the world, including Asia. It shifts from teacher-centered learning strategies (for example, lectures in large auditoriums) to student-centered, self-directed learning methods (for example, active discussions and problem-solving by students in small groups under the guidance of faculty tutors). Upon a recommendation by the Japan Model Core Curriculum, Saga Medical School introduced a PBL curriculum 5 years ago. A full PBL curriculum was adopted from the McMaster model through Hawaii. A description of how PBL was implemented into the 3rd and 4th year (Phase III curriculum) is given. The overall result has been good. Students who experienced PBL had increased scores on the National Medical License Exam, and Saga increased its ranking from 56th to 19th of the 80 medical schools in Japan. A key step was introduction of the educational scaffolding in PBL Step 0. Students were allowed to see page one of the PBL case, containing the chief complaint, on the weekend before meeting in small groups. Despite a perceived overall benefit to student learning, symptoms of superficial discussions by students have been observed recently. How this may be caused by poor case design is discussed. Other problems, including "silent tutors" and increased faculty workload, are discussed. It is concluded that after 5 years, Saga's implementation of a PBL curriculum has been successful. However, many additional issues, including motivation of students and preparation for PBL in the first 2 years, must still be resolved in the future. This is the first description of the positive and negative outcomes associated with the reform of medical education and the introduction of PBL to a traditional medical school curriculum in Japan. © 2008 Elsevier. All rights reserved.
Oda, Y., & Koizumi, S. (2008). Status of medical education reform at Saga Medical School 5 years after introducing PBL. In Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences (Vol. 24). Elsevier (Singapore) Pte Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1607-551X(08)70094-9