Preparing medical students to teach

Susan J Pasquale, Michele P Pugnaire
Academic Medicine 2002, 77 (11): 1175-6

OBJECTIVE: Residents do a significant amount of teaching. Therefore, as medical students prepare for the clinical aspects of their residency, it is also important for them to prepare for their role of physician as teacher. With the goal of offering fourth-year students an opportunity to enhance their teaching skills, an elective was designed that presented them with an opportunity to expand their knowledge base in education, and then apply and practice this new set of knowledge. A week-long elective, Physician as Teacher, was designed to encompass core educational information such as needs assessment of learners, establishing goals and objectives, teaching methods, and evaluation and feedback. This core information was then applied and enriched during an end-of-course teaching presentation. Aside from this course, there is no forum during their undergraduate medical training for the students to acquire knowledge and skills about how to be teachers.

DESCRIPTION: The course was developed with the appreciation that application of knowledge is a rich source of learning. The course began with interactive classroom teaching sessions designed to facilitate acquisition of core educational knowledge. Sessions topics included assessment of learner needs, methods of teaching, learning styles, microprecepting, and feedback. Also incorporated were sessions on facilitating small groups, and teaching and learning how to use technology. Those classroom sessions were then enhanced by a complement of sessions that asked the students to apply their new knowledge to clinical situations. Those more application-based sessions included observation and follow-up discussion of clinical teaching and small-group teaching sessions with the goal of developing the students' skills with respect to the teaching and learning process. An end-of-course teaching presentation by each student provided them with a capstone experience of applying the knowledge and skills learned throughout the week. The topic of the teaching presentation was of their choosing, and could incorporate technology. Each student's teaching presentation was videotaped, immediately viewed by the student, and discussed using a structured format of facilitated feedback.

DISCUSSION: Students reported that the end-of-course teaching presentation was a rich source of their learning, and an important vehicle for helping them apply and synthesize the new knowledge. Fifteen percent of fourth-year students enrolled in and completed the elective. Seventy-one percent of those students "strongly agreed" and 29% "agreed" that the course provided useful knowledge and skills. Seventy-nine percent "strongly agreed" and 21% "agreed" that their teaching would be better because of the course. Based on comments, the students appeared to feel that the experience of presenting a teaching session at the end of the course was a rich source of their learning, and helped them to apply and synthesize the new knowledge. Students noted, "the teaching project was an excellent idea to see how much we have learned; I never realized what a responsibility we have as residents to teach our peers; I have been enlightened this past week and will now consciously make an effort to share what little information I currently have; I will be a better teacher because I have been given the appropriate tools."

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