While evaluating bedside teaching by attending physicians on the Mayo Clinic's general internal medicine hospital services, the author learned that peer review enhances an understanding of teaching for both observers and subjects of peer review. In this article the author offers five insights derived from his and two colleagues’ observations of bedside teaching during a six-month period in 2002. These are (1) the value of peer review to observers, (2) the apparently unlimited number of teaching strategies, (3) the prevalence of missed opportunities to provide feedback to learners, (4) the art of asking questions effectively, and (5) the possible relationship between a teacher's maturity and successful bedside teaching. Regarding the art of asking questions, he encountered four common problems (e.g., the underutilization of questions), but also found that accomplished teachers pursue a course of co-discovery by asking questions alongside their learners. Finally, he learned that experienced attending physicians often demonstrate teaching sessions focused on psychosocial aspects of care, the use of simple questions, and a willingness to expose their own inadequacies.
Dr. Beckman is assistant professor of medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.
Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Beckman, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905; telephone: (507) 284-4461; fax: (507) 284-5889; e-mail: 〈Beckman.Thomas@mayo.edu〉.