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Online PBL Session with the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Cubam receptor-mediated endocytosis in hindgut-derived pseudoplacenta of a viviparous teleost (Xenotoca eiseni)
The N-terminal Tails of Histones H2A and H2B Adopt Two Distinct Conformations in the Nucleosome with Contact and Reduced Contact to DNA

The YCU School of Medicine always sees the importance of offering our students world-standard medical education. As a part of our efforts, we have sent more than 10 faculty members in past years to the “PBL* Hawaii Style Workshop” organized by the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), so that they can adopt the strength of the PBL teaching methods to our medical education.

* PBL (Problem Based Learning)

YCU students also joined JABSOM’s “Summer Medical Education Institute” where the participants could experience authentic Hawaii-Style PBL, while enjoying interaction with medical students from all over the world. Furthermore, JABSOM and YCU were planning to hold a joint event regarding Hawaii-Style PBL by inviting faculty members and students to Yokohama so that more faculty members can experience the essence of Hawaii-Style PBL.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our plans have been interrupted in many ways, but thanks to JABSOM’s kind understanding, we could experience Hawaii-Style PBL in an online and customized format. YCU appreciates JABSOM’s willingness to try something new with YCU even during this difficult time. Sometimes working remotely made the communication challenging or required more time, but it finally led to a fruitful online exchange.


Program Overview


Dr. Suenaga (YCU), Dr. Hara (YCU)

  • Lecture on outline of Hawaii-style PBL (YCU students only)

Day 1 (March 23)

Dr. Fong, Dr. Turban (JABSOM)

Group work: 6 HU JABSOM students and 4 YCU students were divided into two HU-YCU mixed groups.

  • Ice-breaker
  • Case 1 scenario: Discussed in the order of “fact” ⇒ “problems” ⇒ “hypotheses” ⇒ “need-to-know”
  • Sharing learning issues

Day 2 (March 26)

Dr. Fong, Dr. Turban (JABSOM)

Group work

  • Presentation of each student’s learning issue
  • Q&A, feedback from facilitators
  • Case 2 scenario: Discussed in the order of “fact” ⇒ “problems” ⇒ “hypotheses” ⇒ “need-to-know”
  • Sharing learning issues

  • Feedback on learning issues for Case 2 (YCU students only)


By going through two cases on Day 1 and Day 2, YCU students not only learnt the steps of Hawaii-Style PBL, but also they experienced a large amount of self-study and contributed to their own group. Furthermore, YCU students witnessed JABSOM students’ excellence and their vast practical medical knowledge, and enjoyed chatting with the friendly JABSOM students during the breaks.

We believe that even though this online format cannot fully cover every aspect that students can enjoy compared to an in-person style program, this online experience is unique and interesting enough to keep students motivated to study and further their international exchange.


Comments from students

“I really enjoyed the PBL exchange demonstration with the YCU students! I was very impressed with the YCU students who completed the PBL process despite it being their first time! Everyone was so nice and excited to learn!” - JABSOM

“I had a very exciting time and learned how to come up with differential diagnosis.” - YCU

“The PBL process helps me think clinically and collaborating with other medical students helps expand my hypothesis thinking. It's beneficial to learn from fellow medical students by hearing their experiences.” - JABSOM

“I was extremely impressed with their ability to hypothesize medical disorders in English! It was interesting to learn about how medical schools work in Japan and their clinical experiences! I really appreciated the cross-culture international exchange!” - JABSOM

“Hawaiian students are used to the PBL style and had amazing clinical reasoning skills! I thought their way of learning medicine is more practical than that in Japan. In PBL, we see a case of the patient and think about the next step (e.g., questions, exam...) as a real clinical setting. Then we consider learning points from the case by ourselves and teach each other. This type of learning lets us remember each scenario with relevant learning points effectively.” - YCU