Why do I have to teach medical students?
Dr JI asks this question. “Recently our practice has signed up as a preceptor for students as a way of increasing revenue. We have to take on a number of students, and teach them. I don’t see the point to this and I’m wondering why should we do this in a busy practice.”
Well here are a few things you need to consider:
We’re all students
As doctors we’re constantly learning. We take courses, learn procedures, we get accustomed to new surroundings, we study new guidelines and always there’s someone more experienced than us and there’s never any hesitation on their part to teach.
Teaching is learning
When you teach your learn twice. Whether it’s students or otherwise repetition is learning. When we teach others we reinforce the subject in ourselves. I for one find certain core subjects ingrained in me because I repeat it to other people, whether my nurses or patients. So consider teaching as a way for you to learn.
Revision of old concepts
One big advantage of teaching is revisiting old concepts that you don’t see in real life. Just the other day we had a teaching session on fetal health and precocious puberty. Let’s be honest we hardly ever see precocious puberty in real clinics, but I realized there was so much I had forgotten about the subject. And yes a very senior gynecologist, taught us this subject. With the teaching session, I brushed up and revisited the subject.
Getting up to speed with Research
If you’re a busy practitioner there’s not much time to read all the papers that come out in your field. In Neurology alone, there are fifty different new discoveries and findings every week. If you’re an internist, imagine how many papers you’d have to read to find out the latest research on the human body. But when you teach, students make an effort to bring the latest research to the fore. Current generations of med students are interested in all the chip and technology driven medicine. You can learn from them.
Division of Labor
This may sound mean, but you can delegate some of the “lesser” work to students as you teach them. Taking vitals, getting pertinent history, height and weight (if you have to do that kind of stuff.)
Pass on what you know
You didn’t one day wake up and learn how to do a Whiff test or suture a patient. An intern, resident, consultant, attending, took the time to teach you and now it’s your turn to pass on what you have learned. You owe them. Thank your stars you’re at that stage and have to teach the little ones what you know. It’s how medicine works. It’s how we thrive. It’s how we train the doctors who will one day treat us and our children.
If you’re a doctor who would like to send in a question, you can DM me on twitter @PamelaQFerns or even message me on LinkedIn or simply use the contact form or email me.