WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN OUTSTANDING TEACHER
W. Fred Miser, M.D.
Before reading this article, take a moment to reflect on your own experiences in your education. Who were the worst and best teachers you ever had? What were the characteristics that separated the mediocre or bad teachers from those that were outstanding? Write down these characteristics. How does your own teaching reflect these traits? As a teacher, what characteristics would you like to have?
Numerous studies have investigated the distinguishing characteristics of the worst and best teachers. Through the years, the results have been strikingly similar no matter the level of learner (student, resident or faculty), the specialty (family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, OB/GYN or general surgery), or the setting (ambulatory or inpatient).
The intent of this article is to review those characteristics. As you read these, compare your list with those reported in these studies.
Four Characteristics Most Descriptive of the Best Clinical Teachers
1. The best teachers are enthusiastic and stimulating. It is easy to see that these teachers actually enjoy teaching. They are dynamic and have interesting styles of presentation. They stimulate intellectual curiosity and encourage and motivate learners to self-directed learning. They encourage active participation of the learner, and establish a positive learning environment.
2. The best teachers are organized. They present material in a clear and organized manner. They make difficult concepts easy to understand. They clearly communicate to the student what is expected to be learned. They include material that is interesting, practical, relevant, accurate, in depth and up-to-date. Rather than dwell on the esoteric, they emphasize what is important.
3. The best teachers are clinically competent. They are good role models as clinicians.
They demonstrate skill in providing quality patient care. They work effectively with other members of the...