Case Based Teaching

Adapting the Approach: Family Practice

The scope of Family Practice includes children, adolescents, parents, and grandparents, and addresses each individual’s health within the many dimensions of physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well being. The challenge for the Family Practitioner is to gain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to care for this life-range of individuals in the context of their family and community. Because our scope of practice is so broad, Family Practice education particularly benefits from well designed case-based materials as presented in this project.

The cases in this text cover a broad range of health and illness issues for children and teens. Each case gives us a window into the life and health issues of a child or adolescent. Together, the cases teach us about the health of children and adolescents through a snapshot of the child’s family, history, and environment. Each case unfolds as part of a structured didactic history. By reviewing a case, Family Practitioners add to their background knowledge in that problem, improve their skills of investigation, and gain insight into the attitudes and behaviors involved in care of children and adolescents. Thus, the cases serve both as educational tools in imparting new knowledge, skills, and attitudes and as evaluation tools that provide the Family Physician a measure of competency of care.

Because the cases are self-contained, they can be flexibly integrated into a Family Medicine curriculum. For example, a case might be assigned when a particular problem, such as abuse, presents itself during hospital rounds or in the outpatient clinic. Or, cases may be assigned to a student and preceptor during a month’s rotation at a community clinic. Or, cases may become part of a noon seminar series at the clinic. Or, a resident might be asked to “pair” a case from her own practice with one in this text to learn from the similarities and differences.

However used, these cases offer a flexible menu of child and teen health problems to be easily inserted in a practice-based curriculum of Family Medicine education. Ready educational access for students and preceptors facilitates the necessary development of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and evaluation. As a result, better care is delivered to children, teens, and their parents.

Christopher Reif, M.D., M.P.H.

Boston Children's Hospital © 2013