Setting up Teaching Sessions locally

A lot of juniors ask me about how to improve their portfolios. I can offer some general advice in relation to improving teaching, management and leadership skills.  

When it comes to teaching, you may have this idea of teaching of medical students in lecture halls or during clinical placements. But in reality teaching and training has a much wider scope.

Consider setting up a teaching session yourself at your workplace relating to your area of expertise and this is a simple guide on how to do it.  

1. Identify your audience:  

Almost all clinical areas will have nursing students, health care support workers, occupational therapist, OT assistants and OT students. Inform them and  their supervisors that you are planning a teaching session if they would be interested in learning from a doctor, and what topics they be interested in etc.

2. Explore the learning needs and topic for teaching:   

You will be surprised to see how many of our fellow professionals value offers for teaching. They can themselves give you a variety of topics on what they would like to learn from you. It can be fairly simple things like identifying acutely unwell patients how to read a NEWS chart; how to interpret ECGs or common blood results; how to identify sepsis and septic shock etc.

It is important to identify their level of prior knowledge and understanding on the subject so you do not make it too complicated or too simple for them.   

3. Ask permission from the ward manager:

 It is important you inform the senior nurses or management on the ward about what you are doing. Show your passion about education, say you have identified learning needs in junior student staff and would like to contribute in improving their skills by sharing your knowledge. In my experience, this is always welcomed and appreciated wherever you may be working.

4. Find time and suitable venue

Now, this can be challenging as everyone is extra busy in the NHS, but you can still find time like in the lunch hour, on site of the ward where you are available for any emergencies, a side room, even a ward office or a lounge for a 20-30 min session. Ask students to bring their lunch with them. You can run it like a workshop or use flip charts, or computer screen to present slides.

5. Evaluate yourself and gather feedback

Gather feedback formally by designing your own simple feedback form. Reflect on how it was delivered, what were the positives and what could be improved. Peer to peer feedback (ask another junior doctor to observe you and give you feedback), or senior feedback (you can ask your supervisor/consultant)  to sit in on one of these sessions.

Consider running the same or similar session again & continue to improve it. Develop your confidence and experiment with different methods of teaching and take this to a wider area and larger audience. In my experience, it becomes more enjoyable the more you yourself become engaged in the process and your audience becomes more comfortable with your teaching style.

Once you have completed this exercise you are now in a position to evaluate this activity. It can be used to demonstrate your teaching, management and leadership skills.   

Declaration of Interest: I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK.  

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