Guest Author - D. Lynn Byrne, Ph.D.
It takes a great deal of training to become a doctor. Students spend years in the higher education network--university, medical school, internship, residency. Hours upon hours are spent pouring over books, manuals, cadavers; trotting along behind more knowledgeable practitioners; observation; practice, etc.
How do doctors currently leading physician training programs at medical schools and hospitals across the U.S. learn how to teach? According to the latest issue of Academic Medicinen, they don't. The one area doctors to be have not typically been exposed to during their training is teaching; and that, they say, is problematic.
Researchers suggest that medical schools need to pay more attention to the academic experience of doctors. Doctors who wish to teach need to have exposure to teacher training, either through teaching fellowships or mentorships, in order to better provide training to their own future students. Exposure to pedagogy and teaching skills improves the abilitiy of the physician-educator to impart medical knowledge and skills to his/her students; and, hopefully, will result in a better overall educational experience for future physicans.
What do medical schools think about providing teacher training for physician-educators? About half of the medical schools in the U.S. have integrated options for training in pedagogy and teaching skills into their physician training programs. Whether or not these efforts will be successful has yet to be determined; but, institutional leaders have high hopes for their programs.
Medical students who are interested in eventually pursuing a physician-educator or administrative/leadership position in a teaching hospital or university would do well to consider enrolling in a program at a school that provides access to teacher training. Direct, hands-on experience--the traditional mode of training phsyician-educators--has value. But if you've an interest in providing quality training opportunities to your future students and/or staff, knowledge of adult education methods and basic teaching skills would be very valuable.
Until next time!