Teachers as Learners: The Effect of Bedside Teaching on the Clinical Skills of Clinician–Teachers

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Abstract

Purpose

To assess the impact on full-time faculty's own clinical skills and practices of sustained clinical skills bedside teaching with preclerkship students.

Method

This was a longitudinal, qualitative study of faculty who provide dedicated ongoing bedside clinical skills teaching for preclerkship medical students. Interviews were conducted during 2003 to 2007 with 31 faculty of the Colleges program at University of Washington School of Medicine. Content analyses of interview transcripts were performed.

Results

Teachers perceived a strong positive impact of teaching on their own clinical skills. Six themes were associated with the influence of bedside teaching on teachers' skills and practices. One related to deterrents to change (e.g., reliance on tests/specialists) that narrowed teachers' practice skills prior to starting bedside teaching. Three related to expansion of the process of clinical care resulting from bedside teaching: expanded knowledge and skills, deconstructing the clinical experience (e.g., deepening, broadening, slowing one's practice), and greater self-reflection (e.g., awareness of being a role model). Two were perceived outcomes: improved clinical skills (e.g., physical examination) and more mindful practices (e.g., self-confidence, patient-centered).

Conclusions

Teachers perceived profound positive impact on their clinical skills from teaching preclerkship students at the bedside. Further studies are needed, including comparing teaching preclerkship students with teaching advanced students and residents, to assess whether teaching at other levels has this effect.

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