Enhancing clinical teaching with information technologies: what can we do right now?

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Effective small-group clinical teaching requires recognizing the challenges posed by clinical settings, mastering certain teaching skills, and responding to the needs of what is often a diverse group of learners. Information technologies can enhance clinical teaching by increasing the amount of relevant clinical information available to learners, allowing for the rapid integration of needed information into the teaching encounter, facilitating information processing within small groups, and helping to compensate for the many discontinuities inherent in today's clinical teaching environment. However, as many clinical teachers look toward future implementations of advanced, totally integrated medical information systems, they often overlook information technologies they have at hand right now--e.g., CD-ROM textbooks--that can measurably enhance their teaching. The author describes the “real-world” use of several available technologies (for example, “bookmarking” MEDLINE access points) and offers suggestions for how they might be used by faculty in clinical settings.

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