Often, the medical student will cringe at the “drudgery” of the basic science courses and see little connection between a field such as microbiology and clinical problems. Clinicians, however, often wish they knew more about the basic sciences, because it is through the science that we can begin to understand the complexities of the human body and thus have rational methods of diagnosis and treatment. Mastering the knowledge in a discipline such as microbiology is a formidable task. It is even more difficult to retain this information and to recall it when the clinical setting is encountered. To accomplish this synthesis, microbiology is optimally taught in the context of medical situations, and this is reinforced later during the clinical rotations. The gulf between the basic sciences and the patient arena is wide. Perhaps one way to bridge this gulf is with carefully constructed clinical cases that ask basic science-oriented questions. In an attempt to achieve this goal, we have designed a collection of patient cases to teach microbiological related points. More important, the explanations for these cases emphasize the underlying mechanisms and relate the clinical setting to the basic science data.
We explore the principles rather than emphasize rote memorization. This book is organized for versatility: to allow the student “in a rush” to go quickly through the scenarios and check the corresponding answers and to provide more detailed information for the student who wants thoughtprovoking explanations. The answers are arranged from simple to complex: a summary of the pertinent points, the bare answers, a clinical correlation, an approach to the microbiology topic, a comprehension test at the end for reinforcement or emphasis, and a list of references for further reading. The clinical cases are arranged by system to better reflect the organization within the basic science. Finally, to encourage thinking about mechanisms and relationships, we intentionally used open-ended questions with the clinical cases. Nevertheless, several multiple-choice questions are included at the end of each scenario to reinforce concepts or introduce related topics.