ABSTRACT Introduction: Biochemistry has traditionally been taught through lectures and rote memorization paying little attention to nurturing key problem solving skills. The literature on clinical case studies utilized in health education indicates that case studies facilitate and promote active learning, help clinical problem solving and encourage the development of critical thinking skills. Methods: This paper describes a method of using clinical case studies to deepen and solidify the students understanding of biochemical facts and concepts as related to clinical medicine. Discussion: Clinical case studies can be a helpful adjunct for teaching the content of human biochemistry that complements the traditional approach of lecture, textbook and laboratory. The learning issues presented to the students required them to reformulate biochemical concepts in their own words, integrate diverse principles and decide what information was important and what was superfluous. Limitations include a small subset of students riding the coat tails of their more ambitious peers, and biochemistry professors not having the confidence to take the students through a clinical case study because they may feel like they do not have sufficient “clinical expertise”. Conclusion: Clinical case studies are a valuable addition to the traditional methods of lecture, textbook reading and laboratory for teaching biochemistry. More importantly clinical case studies help remind students that what they are learning has relevance in the real world, and may help motivate students to pay more attention to the numerous facts faced in biochemistry.
Cite this paper
McRae, M. (2012). Using Clinical Case Studies to Teach Biochemistry in a Doctoral Program: A Descriptive Paper. Creative Education, 3, 1173-1176. doi: 10.4236/ce.2012.37174.
 Cliff, W. H., & Wright, A. W. (1996). Directed case study method for teaching human anatomy and physiology. Advances in Physiology Education, 15, S19-S28.
 Irby, D. M. (1994). Three exemplary models of case-based teaching. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 69, 947-953.
 Lieberman, M., & Marks, A. D. (2009). Basic medical biochemistry (3rd ed.), Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
 Popil, I. (2010). Promotion of critical thinking by using case studies as teaching method. Nurse Education Today, 31, 204-207.
 Sandstrom, S. (2006). Use of case studies to teach diabetes and other chronic illnesses to nursing students. Journal of Nutrition Education, 45, 229-232.
 Shanley, P. F. (2007). Viewpoint: Leaving the “empty glass” of problem-based learning behind: New assumptions and a revised model for case study in preclinical medical education. Academic Medicine, 82, 479-485. doi:10.1097/ACM.0b013e31803eac4c
 Srinivasan, M., Wilkes, M., Stevenson, F., Nguyen, T., & Slavin, S. (2007). Comparing problem-based leaning with case-based learning: Effects of a major curricular shift at two institutions. Academic Medicine, 82, 74-82. doi:10.1097/01.ACM.0000249963.93776.aa
 Wilson, A. S., Goodall, J. E., Ambrosini, G. et al. (2006). Development of an interactive learning tool for teaching rheumatology—A simulated clinical case studies program. Rheumatology, 45, 1158-1161.