Original Publication
Open Access

Burns and Trauma: A PBL Module for the Surgical Clerkship

Published: September 17, 2010 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8282

Included in this publication:

  • Timeline.doc
  • Facilitator's Guide.doc
  • Instructor's Guide.doc
  • Post-Module Handout for Students.doc
  • Pre-Case and Case for Students.doc
  • Sample Letter of Invitation for Expert.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: This paper-based problem-based learning (PBL) module, intended for students involved in their third-year year surgical clerkship, provides an opportunity for students to integrate clinical and basic science concepts related to the pathophysiology and clinical management of burns as well as to briefly review how to respond to a trauma. Methods: The content of this module, intended to be completed in a single 3-hour session, includes two written cases with "probing questions" for discussion. These cases are intended to help students achieve educational objectives related to acid-base homeostasis, principles of fluid management, principles of burn management, principles of wound healing and skin grafts, and clinical reasoning skills for responding to a trauma. The module also includes guidelines for how to supplement the PBL cases with an expert-led question-and-answer session. Results: This module has been ran three times with third-year medical students who were rotating through surgery (or who had recently completed their surgery rotations). Over 100 students and nine different facilitators have participated. Each time we ran the module, we collected feedback from the students and facilitators. Examples of comments include "Many learning points that are valuable. Enjoyed the case, everyone learned a lot. Good use of specific values and equations to apply our knowledge," "Review of anion gap, respiratory vs metabolic acidosis was good. Also review of primary/secondary survey was good." Much of which has been used to update and modify the module to better meet the goals and objectives. Discussion: This PBL module for third-year students was designed with the idea that basic science concepts can and should be revisited during the clinical years, in a way that encourages students to integrate these concepts into their clinical thought processes. Feedback from students speaks to the module’s effectiveness in teaching basic concepts of trauma and burn care (which many students do not experience first-hand during their surgical rotation) as well as reviewing topics such as acid-base problems and differential diagnosis.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Compare primary versus secondary survey.
  2. Define airway, breathing, circulation, disability, exposure (ABCDE).
  3. Calculate acid-base status.
  4. List differential diagnosis for metabolic acidosis.
  5. Contrast maintenance vs. resuscitation fluids.
  6. Calculate resuscitation fluids for burns with Parkland formula.
  7. Calculate total body surface area (TBSA).
  8. List diagnostic criteria for four classes of burns.
  9. Describe management principles for minor burns.
  10. Describe how timing of a burn infection influences choice of empiric antibiotics.
  11. Explain when to treat a burn with a skin graft.
  12. Explain when to refer to a burn unit.
  13. Define primary and secondary wound closure.
  14. Describe three cellular stages of wound healing.
  15. Contrast contraction versus contracture.
  16. List three causes of impaired wound healing.
  17. Describe three steps for a skin graft to take.

Author Information

  • Maureen Burke: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Megan Frantz: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Steven Healan: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Stephanie Camaglia Reznick: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

None to report.

None to report.


Burke M, Frantz M, Healan S, Camaglia Reznick S. Burns and trauma: a PBL module for the surgical clerkship. MedEdPORTAL. 2010;6:8282. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8282