Learning Theory in Medical Education

If medical educators are to perform at our best, it is vital that we understand how people learn. Learning, not teaching, is the ultimate outcome of medical education, and we are unlikely to foster it effectively if we do not understand what it is and how it takes place. Yet most medical educators have little or no background in formal educational theory. If we are good teachers, it is frequently because we were blessed with good educational instincts, or because we had the good fortune to...

Worthy of Emulation

Many of the most important lessons in the education of physicians are not well conveyed by lectures, books, and electronic media. These lessons touch on such topics as work ethic, goal setting, patient interaction, consultation, and coping with uncertainty and failure. Whether we are aware of it or not, each medical educator manifests characteristic patterns of conduct in these areas, and these habits exert a formative influence on medical students, residents, and other learners. It is a...

Attracting Medical Students to Understaffed Fields

A shortage of physicians in any medical specialty or subspecialty represents a threat not only to patients but to the field of medicine. When the supply of physicians in any field is insufficient to meet the demand for their services, patient care ideally provided by specialists is likely to be provided by nonspecialists, or perhaps even by nonphysicians. A workforce shortage also interferes with the ability of physicians in understaffed specialties to develop good working liaisons with...