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Teaching our future teachers


How a teaching rotation in medical school affects graduates’ subsequent careers. Kloek AT, Van Ziji ACM, ten Cate OTJ.  Perspectives on Medical Education.  2016; online ahead of print.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40037-016-0302-4

Reviewed by Mumtaz Virji

Tags: teaching, program evaluation, survey

What was the study question?

What are the long-term effects on the educational careers of students participating in a student teaching rotation (STR)?

How was the study done?

The authors conducted an online survey in 2013 of graduates who had participated in a six-week STR at their institution between 2004-2007 (group 1, n=50), along with control groups of graduates who had been interested in the STR but not admitted (group 2, n=11) and graduates who were never interested (group 3, n=77).  The survey consisted of 52 questions addressing educational experiences, enthusiasm and preparedness.

The STR was an intense 6-week course offered throughout the year.   Responsibilities included: 1. teaching junior medical students for minimum of 30 hours. 2. studying medical education literature and complete a quiz on 37 core topics. 3. observing other teachers and provide structured feedback. 4. completing a small education development project to improve the course they are participating in. 5. writing a small literature review on a medical education topic of their choice. 6. practicing writing test items.

What were the results?

Participants in groups 1 and 2 were more likely to get a basic teaching certificate and inclined to participate in future educational activities. All groups spent equal number of years and hours on educational activities. There was no difference in taking initiatives in educational activities although Group 3 did feel less prepared. Group 1 believed the STR made a positive impact on them.

What are the implications of these findings?

Medical education is an integral role for many clinicians (especially residents and fellows), many of whom feel ill prepared in their role as teachers. Providing training to medical students in teaching may help prepare the students for their role as teachers. This study did not show a difference in the time faculty spent in educational activities, although the groups who completed the STR or were interested in the STR were more likely to get further training in medical education and felt more prepared to teach. Is this difference more because these students were interested in medical education or was it the impact of the course? Further studies need to be conducted to include all students rather than a selected few.

Editor’s Note: This small study shows that physicians generally are enthusiastic about teaching and that student teaching rotations are only one way for graduates to develop the confidence and skills to teach well. (JG)

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