The Fundamentals of Endocrinology and Reproduction Course has been designed to promote student-centered, self-directed and active learning. Problem?based learning is the predominant educational modality. The cases have been carefully designed to highlight the most important aspects of normal and abnormal endocrine function and normal and abnormal reproduction. Substantial unscheduled time is incorporated into the course to allow sufficient time for independent study. Most small group faculty are content experts in some aspect(s) of endocrinology and/or reproduction. However, none are expert in all areas, and all have been charged with using their expertise to ask thought-provoking questions rather than to provide answers.
Major topics of the course include normal and abnormal sexual development, normal and abnormal growth and pubertal development, reproductive endocrinology, infertility, sexually transmitted diseases, normal and complicated pregnancy, menopause, breast cancer, obesity, glucose homeostasis, diabetes, pituitary disorders, thyroid physiology and disease, adrenal disorders, endocrine hypertension, and disorders of mineral metabolism.
In all cases, the following fundamental principles of relevant hormonal systems should be addressed by the students:
- Molecular principles, including structural relationships among classes of hormones, mechanisms of hormone synthesis and transport, structure and function of hormone receptors (nuclear and membrane receptors), and principles of hormone-receptor interactions.
- Physiologic principles, including regulation of hormone synthesis and secretion, regulation of receptor activity and/or abundance, the effects of hormones on the metabolic/functional activity, proliferation, and differentiation of target cells, and normal reproductive development and function in the male and female.
- Anatomic and histopathologic principles, including significant relationships between endocrine glands and other anatomic structures, and normal and pathologic histology of the endocrine glands and reproductive structures.
- Pathophysiologic principles of excess and deficient hormone secretion, endocrine tumors, and disorders of reproduction.
- Pharmacological principles of drugs used in the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine and reproductive disorders, including mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetics, indications, contraindications, and side effects.
In addition to these guidelines, several mechanisms are built into the course to allow students to gauge their progress in mastering the relevant material. One or two days after the conclusion of each case, a Case Wrap-up Session is held in the Clinical Science Auditorium to provide a forum for students to ask questions of faculty with content expertise related to that case. In addition, recommended learning objectives will be distributed before the Case Wrap-up Sessions. Finally, "no-stakes" computer-based quizzes will be available through Web-CT every two weeks to allow students to assess their progress.
Computer-based learning modules and lectures are designed to supplement, enrich, and expand on the topics raised by the PBL cases. A new modality, student Clinical Decision Making Exercises, will help students develop and improve skills in literature searching, data analysis, critical thinking, teamwork, and presentation.
A midterm and cumulative final exam will assess students? ability to apply basic principles and utilize information in clinically relevant contexts. Students will receive a grade in each of the three major components of the course (PBL, CDMX, and Exams) –these will be combined to produce the final course grade of H, HP, P, or F. Students must pass all three components in order to pass the course. Standards for assessment will be provided to PBL and CDMX faculty to promote consistent evaluation throughout the course.