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Teaching Medical Students How to Teach: A National Survey of Students-as-Teachers Programs in U.S. Medical Schools

Soriano, Rainier P. MD; Blatt, Benjamin MD; Coplit, Lisa MD; CichoskiKelly, Eileen PhD; Kosowicz, Lynn MD; Newman, Linnie MS, ANP; Pasquale, Susan J. PhD, MT-BC, NMT; Pretorius, Richard MD, MPH; Rosen, Jonathan M. MD; Saks, Norma S. EdD; Greenberg, Larrie MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181f53273
Teaching

Purpose: A number of U.S. medical schools started offering formal students-as-teachers (SAT) training programs to assist medical students in their roles as future teachers. The authors report results of a national survey of such programs in the United States.

Method: In 2008, a 23-item survey was sent to 130 MD-granting U.S. schools. Responses to selective choice questions were quantitatively analyzed. Open-ended questions about benefits and barriers to SAT programs were given qualitative analyses.

Results: Ninety-nine U.S. schools responded. All used their medical students as teachers, but only 44% offered a formal SAT program. Most (95%) offered formal programs in the senior year. Common teaching strategies included small-group work, lectures, role-playing, and direct observation. Common learning content areas were small-group facilitation, feedback, adult learning principles, and clinical skills teaching. Assessment methods included evaluations from student–learners (72%) and direct observation/videotaping (59%). From the qualitative analysis, benefit themes included development of future physician–educators, enhancement of learning, and teaching assistance for faculty. Obstacles were competition with other educational demands, difficulty in faculty recruitment/retention, and difficulty in convincing others of program value.

Conclusions: Formal SAT programs exist for 43 of 99 U.S. medical school respondents. Such programs should be instituted in all schools that use their students as teachers. National teaching competencies, best curriculum methods, and best methods to conduct skills reinforcement need to be determined. Finally, the SAT programs' impacts on patient care, on selection decisions of residency directors, and on residents' teaching effectiveness are areas for future research.

Dr. Soriano is associate professor and director, The Art and Science of Medicine II, Departments of Medical Education, Medicine, and Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York.

Dr. Blatt is associate professor, Department of Medicine, and medical director, CLASS Clinical Skills Center, Office of Interdisciplinary Medical Education, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Dr. Coplit is assistant professor and director, Institute for Medical Education, Department of Medical Education, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York.

Dr. CichoskiKelly is director of educational instruction and scholarship, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont.

Dr. Kosowicz is associate professor and director, Clinical Medicine Course, and medical director, Clinical Skills Assessment Program, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, Connecticut.

Ms. Newman is co-theme leader, Learning to Teach: Teaching to Learn (LTT:TTL) Course, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York.

Dr. Pasquale is director of curriculum and faculty development, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Dr. Pretorius is associate professor, Department of Family Medicine, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York.

Dr. Rosen is associate dean for medical education, Office of Medical Education, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York.

Dr. Saks is assistant dean for educational programs, director, Cognitive Skills Program, and associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Dr. Greenberg is professor, Department of Pediatrics, and internal consultant for faculty development, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Soriano, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1070, Departments of Medical Education, Medicine, and Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029; telephone: (212) 241-1519; fax: (212) 860-9737; e-mail: rainier.soriano@mssm.edu.

First published online September 28, 2010

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges