Pituitary Gland: Normal Function and Assessment

Abstract

This computer-based, interactive module introduces preclinical medical students to normal pituitary function and outlines its assessment. Solid understanding of these topics is requisite to learning clinical disorders of the pituitary.

Existing resources largely target learners at earlier or later stages of training; thus, we created this resource to address needs of medical students during a first- or second-year endocrine course. A module format was selected to promote interactive, independent learning.

Two cohorts of medical students completed the 40-minute module: 172 second-year students who had completed a year of basic sciences in the traditional curriculum and 180 foundation-phase students in a three-semester combined basic and clinical sciences curriculum (due to a change in the medical school curriculum at our institution). In both instances, the module was completed before start of clinical pituitary content. A static set of PowerPoint slides accompanied the module to facilitate note taking.

Test Your Knowledge slides were inserted to ensure grasp of key terms/concepts before moving to subsequent slides. A short question-and-answer session was held following module completion to clarify points of confusion. Students rated effectiveness of the module as 4.6 out of 5, commenting on its clarity, organization, high-yield nature, and utility in preparing for clinical material.

Faculty noted greater understanding of foundational pituitary principles and more engaging discussions. The percentage of pituitary-related questions answered correctly on the midterm exam increased.

Finally, success of the pituitary module prompted development of adrenal, thyroid, and parathyroid modules that now comprise the Endocrine Organs Introduction Series in our curriculum.

Citation

Kirk D, Smith KW. Pituitary gland: normal function and assessment. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2016;12:10430. http://dx.doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10430

Educational Objectives

After completing this module, the learner will be able to:

  1. Describe the normal function and regulation of the pituitary gland, including names and actions of the anterior and posterior pituitary hormones.
  2. Understand the basic approach to laboratory assessment of the pituitary.
  3. Differentiate between anterior and posterior pituitary origin, function, and regulation.
  4. List the hormones produced by the pituitary gland.
  5. Discuss for each pituitary hormone: hypothalamic stimulating/inhibiting factors and their clinical uses, basic physiologic function, and regulation (feedback loop).
  6. Describe factors that affect growth hormone levels.
  7. Understand the tests for growth hormone excess and deficiency.
  8. Define a primary versus secondary endocrine disorder.

Keywords

  • Endocrine, Endocrinology, Pituitary, Module, Preclinical Medical Education

More information at https://www.mededportal.org/publication/10430

2 Responses

  1. This looks and sounds great. Is it possible for anyone to view and/or read more of the actual material? I went to the link, and it describes it well, but don’t see how to actually access this. Or is this information meant to let us know it exists and is therefore an encouragement to we who have suffered from Cushing’s disease, so in the future more medical students will have the much needed knowledge to assist patients in the diagnostic process?
    Thank you,
    Sharon Settlemyre M.H, P.T. N.D

    • On the upper right of the page are links to sign in or register for an AAMC account if you do not have one to read the entire article.

      Hopefully, patients can give these links to their doctors so they can be more aware of some of these issues. Doctors are more likely that patients to have AAMC accounts.

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