Brief Reflections from the Teaching Service

For so many of us climbing up the rungs of the medical hierarchy from pre-med to med student to resident to faculty, we advance up those rungs and find that we have become educators. However most of us lack any formal education in how to educate. Often, we may not even realize that we are teaching or giving feedback. We find ourselves "teaching" by copying the styles of those who taught us. We embrace the "see one, do one, teach one" mentality. Today, Dr. Jennifer Caputo is sharing her experience as she changed careers from community medicine to academic medicine. She shares some insight that we can ALL use as we step into that unfamiliar place of "educator."

After four years as a hospitalist on the non-teaching service at my university, I decided to change things up this year and commit one quarter of my time to attending on the internal medicine teaching service. My first two weeks were assigned at the end of July. As the rotation approached I was nervous, questioning whether I would be an effective teacher and how I would manage a team that included brand new interns. Happily, the two weeks went smoothly and the feedback I received from the students and residents was overwhelmingly positive. What I learned and would advise for other junior faculty stepping in to the teaching attending role is that preparation is key.

Setting the tone for the team, anticipating major teaching points for the day, and planning how you will structure rounds and teaching sessions are all essential to successful teaching on the wards.

For residents and students my advice is to give honest feedback to your attendings about their teaching styles. There is a lot of focus in medicine on attending evaluations of trainees, but as the attending I found myself craving feedback from my team about my effectiveness as their teacher. Looking back, here are the top things that contributed to our team’s success: