Teaching and Learning in Medical Education


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What if teachers and medical educators shared ideas more often?

This week I had the privilege of working with medical educators at NHS, University Hospitals Derby and Burton …

Sharing teaching ideas with the medical profession …

This was their first TeachMeet, pre-planned before COVID, with me as the opening keynote. I was asked to speak about the 5-Minute Lesson Plan and how it could be transferred into the context of medical education and clinical reasoning.

I was also given some time to share insights from my working memory research and the brilliant headlines from Barak Rosenshine’s principles of effective instruction. After my presentation, I sat and listened to the other presenters and participants sharing across the room.

Over the three hours we spent together, this is what I have learned from my short time and what I think is transferrable between teaching and those working in the medical sector as educators (and vice versa).

One of the things that struck me was the importance of the trust that exists between the people in the room. I won’t’ try to summarise all the medical terms or the content that was shared, but I can offer a summary of what recurring messages I heard in the room that I shared back with the group at the end of the event. This is what I learned.

1.Collaboration matters

In all of the schools and colleges I visit, the staff that report back on their autonomy and general day-to-day happiness can be summarised in one word. Collaboration.

The most effective leadership teams create an environment where staff can come together to share on a regular basis, allowing good ideas to ‘filter to the top’ and provide a forum for new and established staff members’ voices to be heard.

Those who are familiar with the TeachMeet concept will know that this type of event models ‘sharing collaboratively’, really well. The challenge for all is how to engineer the TeachMeet conditions back into the workplace, alongside colleagues who may/may not want to share.

2. Assessment and feedback

There was a great deal of discussion about ‘assessment‘ in the medical context, providing ‘feedback‘ to medical students and/or patients. I offered the group a couple of insights that may take their thinking forward (or not) given my limited medical expertise.

The first was explaining the etymological origins of the word ‘assessment’ and offering a few advancements on different types of feedback. The challenge is how can medical educators can transfer some of the practical ideas I offered from the classroom into their work.

3. Relationships and trust

The final theme of the day I kept hearing from practitioners was ‘relationships’ and ‘trust. It is clear that the establishment of strong relationships is a key success factor in medical education. Strong relationships need to exist between students and their teachers, and also with the patients.

How can we do this if time and accountability pressures restrict this from happening well?

I offered some insights from what I’ve learned from working with thousands of pupils, and recently, from working with thousands of teachers:

  • a) people need to like you and/or your material
  • b) they need to know you/your moral compass, what drives you and how it connects to them
  • c) once they like what you have to share, and they get to know you really well, trust can be established
  • d) when all the above is in place, particularly trust, the person can ‘buy in‘ to what you are saying, doing or selling.

If people like your ideas, they invest in getting to know you. When you connect and share, a bond of trust starts to grow before the ‘buy-in’ can happen. This is no different to how we form new relationships or connections with others, and I believe that medical educators form relationships of trust with their patients.

Royal Derby Hospital

Key takeaway for me?

There was one idea I really liked that I took away – SBAR – a popular ‘handover tool’ in health care. I’ve downloaded this resource you may find useful (BJN) for form tutors or SENDCos.

  1.  S = Situation (a concise statement of the problem)
  2.  B = Background (a brief overview of the situation)
  3.  A = Assessment (analysis and options — what you found/think)
  4.  R = Recommendation (action requested/recommended — what you want

Overall, I left the event feeling inspired and humbled by the work that is being done in the medical sector.

There are many transferrable concepts between teaching and medicine, and we can learn from each other now, and in the future.


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