The perceived challenges and benefits of delivering a blended physiology and pathology module in the undergraduate medical curriculum: Proceedings of the Physiological Society

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The importance of both Physiology and Pathology Education within the medical curriculum is enshrined within The General Medical Councils "Tomorrow's Doctors" document (General Medical Council, 2009). Both subjects are emphasised in the documents "The Doctor as a Scholar and a Scientist", section which stresses the need for graduates to be able to "explain normal and abnormal human structure and function". While physiology underpins this knowledge, pathology makes apparent the link between the basic sciences and clinical medicine (Marshall et al., 2004). Modern curricula, however, pose a number of challenges. With the advent of integrated, case-based teaching, the identity of these sciences has been eroded, as has the time spent teaching them. Indeed, the decline in pathology in curricula has contributed to a pathology recruitment crisis with a "rapid and spectacular" rise in vacancies for pathologists (Domizio and Wilkinson, 2006).In QUB, medical physiology is taught during the first 2 years in 2 modules, with pathology being taught over the same period in "Cells, Tissues and Organs" and "Principles of Disease and Treatment" classes. Closer collaboration between the subjects could prove beneficial. It would strengthen the identity of pathology and the link it has with the basic sciences, while providing a context for physiology learning, giving students the "desire to learn" essential in creating active lifelong learners (Svinicki, 1998).To investigate the need for such collaboration, questionnaires were distributed to 115 medical students undergoing tutorials in the final semester of second year. Questions focused on students understanding of physiology and pathology as concepts, on their relevance to clinical skills, and whether overlap between both would be useful. A 5 point Likert scale was used to evaluate the student response to each of the questions with 5 indicating strong agreement with a statement and 1 strong disagreement. Ratings are given as mean mark out of 5 ± S.E.M, n = 71. In addition to this, there were 3 open-ended questions focussing on integration of the 2 subjects.Students responded with Likert scores over 4.5 in response to statements on their understanding of physiology and pathology as concepts. Both subjects were felt to contribute to clinical skills (4.7 ± 0.1 in response to questions concerning the relevance of physiology and pathology education to clinical skills). Scoring lower were questions on the amount of overlap between physiology and pathology (3.6 ± 0.1) and the need for an integrated physiology/pathology module (3.9 ± 0.1). The overlap, however, was considered useful (4.0 ± 0.1).A separate professional identity for each subject is seen as beneficial by students. Collaboration and interprofessionalism rather than integration is perhaps more effective at this level.
Original languageEnglish
PagesProc Physiol Soc 31 C74 (2014)
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
EventPhysiology2014 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jun 201430 Jun 2014


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Education


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