Scroll Top

Successful IME programs using adult learning principles: Part 2 (Problem-centred learning)

Posted by Caroline Halford


Welcome back to my blog series on adult learning principles. AKA the handbook of educational design that we at Springer Healthcare IME use when constructing our programs.  

Why is educational design important?  Because we need to make sure that the teaching reaches the audience, keeps them engaged, and that learners can retain the knowledge and use it. 

You can view previous blogs from this series HERE

I would love to know what you think. Do these formats resonate with you? Would you have done anything differently with an educational program? Please send me a message at or via LinkedIn at  and I’ll get back to you.

Problem-Centred Learning

Today’s blog focuses on the adult learning principle of problem-centred learning. When engaging with IME programs, learners need to know: what specific issue does this education solve? Does it relate to my clinical practice?

This is because we are all more inclined to engage with learning materials when it relates to our personal experience.  

In medical education, this could mean (1) presenting clinical case studies or patient scenarios that are familiar to the learner audience; or (2) making sure that each program element focuses on a topic that we know strikes to the heart of the unmet educational need, as well as the answers that your audience needs to know.

This is why doing due diligence when developing the needs assessment for a new program is key. Consult the literature, consult faculty, and do surveys to make sure your program design is relevant to your target audience.

Using this principle within Springer Healthcare IME programs

One of our most recent set of programs* that used this learning principle are in the field of chronic kidney disease (CKD):

Nearly 850 million people worldwide are affected by CKD, with up to an estimated 97% of these patients remaining undiagnosed (Laws 2024)! Much of the identification burden falls to primary care physicians, who are the first to see these patients. Despite guidelines, these busy HCPs may be overlooking the symptoms of CKD, leading to late diagnosis and (therefore) poorer patient outcomes.

The first program started with a live webinar with world-renowned experts talking about early identification and intervention of CKD. The webinar followed a patient journey, with the experts engaging in a panel discussion afterwards where they discussed their own experiences and how primary care can bridge the CKD gap.

The second comprised a series of simulation-based activities to test physicians’ diagnostic capabilities and management decisions in realistic CKD scenarios that primary care teams are likely to face in their daily practice. Each scenario looked at a different type of patient, with different complexities. An exciting aspect of this format is the ability to check the patient’s demographics and medical records, watch the patient interact with the physician, and interact with the data in a realistic way.

By focusing on real-time, global problems in the identification and treatment of CKD, and discussing realistic issues, these programs were successful in attracting primary care learners looking for real solutions.

*AstraZeneca provided an educational grant towards these independent programs.


Laws L. AstraZeneca study forecasts 16.5% population affected by chronic kidney disease by 2032 . Available at: HTTPS://WWW.OUTSOURCING-PHARMA.COM/ARTICLE/2024/04/15/ASTRAZENECA-S-IMPACT-CKD-STUDY-ALARMING-PROJECTIONS-FOR-2032  Accessed 15 April 2024.