Beneficial Group Activities For USMLE Review Sessions

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Those who take USMLE review classes benefit from application of various learning techniques that is integrated within the review program.
One of these learning techniques is the utilization of group activities.
In group activities, the USMLE review mentor acts as a facilitator or resource person.
This is a highly helpful approach in preparing for USMLE because it provides a learning activity for different kinds of medical students in terms of learning styles.
It also increases the students' interaction and socialization; as well as provides extended opportunities to discuss ideas and concepts long after the review session is over.
Some of the beneficial group activities are as follows:
  1. Brainstorming.
    It is a technique that elicits a large number of imaginative ideas or solutions to open-ended problems.
    Medical students in groups are encouraged to expand their thinking beyond the routine.
  2. Buzz Session.
    This provides an open environment in which group members can discuss their opinions without fear of being wrong or being ridiculed for holding an unpopular position.
    Buzz session can also serve to clarify a position or bring new information before the group to correct misconceptions.
    This is one good technique when discussing ethical considerations in medical practice.
  3. Debate and Panel.
    This is a more structured format USMLE review lecturers use wherein two positions on a controversial issue are presented formally.
    Each debater is given a certain amount of time to state a position, to respond to questions from others in the group, and to pose questions.
    This is also beneficial for discussions concerning medical ethics as well as treatment decisions for controversial or newly discovered disease.
  4. Fish Bowl.
    A technique in which group members give their full attention to what one individual wants to express.
    In USMLE review, this technique is good in evaluating the level of knowledge a group of medical students has.
    The fish bowl may contain titles of certain diseases, normal values of blood chemistry or any topic for the particular USMLE review session and gives enough time for the student to discuss all that he can remember on the word or term indicated on the piece of paper taken from the bowl.
    Modifications to this technique can be done after a certain time of USMLE review.
  5. Consensus decision-making.
    A technique that requires group members to agree.
    This is a good technique for deciding medical treatment regimens for a specific clinical case presented during a USMLE review intended for USMLE Step 3.
    It integrates a number of critical thinking processes as well as application of medical principles and concepts as guides for practice clinical decision-making.
There are still many group activities that can be used in any USMLE review.
The goal is not just to provide a means of interaction and socialization but also promote an opportunity for check and balance of acquired knowledge and experiences from previous review sessions.
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