What's Old Is New Again: Harnessing the Power of Original Experiments to Learn Renal Physiology

      Although medical schools across the United States have updated their curricula to incorporate active learning techniques, there has been little discussion on the nature of the content presented to students. Here, we share detailed examples of our experience in using original experiments to lay the groundwork for foundational concepts in renal physiology and pathophysiology. We believe that this approach offers distinct advantages over standard case-based teaching by (1) starting with simple concepts, (2) analyzing memorable visuals, (3) increasing graphical literacy, (4) translating observations to “rules,” (5) encouraging critical thinking, and (6) providing historical perspective to the study of medicine. Although we developed this content for medical students, we have found that many of these lessons are also appropriate as foundational concepts for residents and fellows and serve as an excellent springboard for increasingly complex discussions of clinical applications of physiology. The use of original experiments for teaching and learning in renal physiology harnesses skills in critical thinking and provides a solid foundation that will help learners with subsequent case-based learning in the preclerkship curriculum and in the clinical arena.

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