Among the many things a physician is, a physician is a teacher. This is even more so with physicians who work in the emergency department (ED) and every member of the health care team in the emergency department. This can happen between colleagues, staff members, medical students, residents, and patients. Understanding that we should be teaching is a cornerstone to providing high-quality care and being a good ED team member. Teaching is something you never get away from, as our team members come from different backgrounds, have various educational opportunities, and our patients will always need help understanding their care. In discussing the “always be teaching” topic is essential to remember that all individuals mentioned above should be viewed as learners (regardless of if you work in an academic institution).
Some ways we can learn to be a better teachers:
- Learn to simplify how we explain things. Our patients, nurses, techs, and others did not attend medical school. Learning how to explain complex or not so complex medical ailments at your learner’s level is crucial to understanding what you are saying.
- Draw pictures. There are certain disease states (think fractures, lacerations, kidney stones, or diverticulitis, as mentioned in the episode) where drawing even a rudimentary picture can help learners understand what is going on.
- Learn to listen. Simply being a better listener can help you when you teach a learner because when you listen, you’ll hear what the learner wants to learn.
Tips from our guests:
- Find grace for your learners. Not everyone will be ready to be taught some big concept when they feel the need to teach it.
- Build variability into how you teach. Not everyone will be receptive to one specific teaching style. Take the time to find various ways you can meet learners where they are. This will help you become a more respected teacher, and will help you grow.
- Be ok if a learner is not “your person.” Not every learner will be receptive to learning, and the reason may just be you. Don’t get mad; this isn’t something you can fix now, and be ok with not everyone being “your people.”
Listen to the Episode
- Burgess, A., van Diggele, C., Roberts, C. et al. Key tips for teaching in the clinical setting. BMC Med Educ 20, 463 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-020-0228
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