Herbert Leslie Burrell

Case Teaching in Surgery (Classic Reprint)

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Herbert Leslie Burrell
   - Case Teaching in Surgery (Classic Reprint)

Excerpt from Case Teaching in Surgery

The following histories of cases have been collected and printed to facilitate the case method of teaching in surgery at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Blake has for three years found that in the latter part of the last year in the course in surgical instruction this method of teaching has served to assemble the more or less disjointed knowledge that the students have acquired in the various fundamental and applied courses.

The writers believe that the case method needs wider recognition in the art of teaching surgery. There are many and varied advantages in the method. It gives the instructor a boundless amount of material; he may utilize all his histories in private and hospital practice; he may use the histories of cases that have been under the care of other surgeons; he may present cases that illustrate the variations in the common forms of disease; he may collect rare and unique examples of disease; he may present histories that are complete or incomplete; and he may, if he chooses, omit important details from the history of a case.

The most important advantage that the method presents is its adaptability and elasticity to the needs of the instructor. No one can make a success of this method unless he adopts his own individual way of conducting the exercises. The instructor should guide and suggest, but the student should talk and discuss the case. In other words, the student should be active and productive, rather than passive and receptive. Each instructor, after trying the method will adopt a plan of his own and, after all, this is the fundamental principle of good teaching. A very definite advantage is that the instructor may develop the instruction along whatever lines he may elect; for example, the discussion of a case may bear upon etiology, symptomatology, diagnosis, differential diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment. A very definite advantage to the instructor is that, if the students are allowed to do the questioning, they will quickly demonstrate their need of instruction, whether it be in diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment.

In the explanatory note Dr. Blake describes his personal method of using case teaching in surgery.

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