An innovative Boot Camp helps residents develop their teaching skills
By Pat Morden, BA’77
“Teaching helps us consolidate our knowledge. If we do it well, students will be able to provide better care and be better colleagues in the future.”
That’s Dr. Charles Ho, MD’13, a fourth-year resident in psychiatry. Last year, Dr. Ho and 31 other residents from 24 programs at Schulich Medicine attended the first-ever Boot Camp for Resident Teachers to learn new teaching strategies and approaches.
There’s growing recognition that residents play an important role as teachers of undergraduate students and junior residents. “Residents have a natural empathy and rapport with learners and that makes them powerful teachers,” said Joan Binnendyk, an educational developer with the School’s postgraduate medical education program. “Often physicians looking back on their training will identify residents as their most important and influential teachers.” In fact, it’s estimated that more than one-third of a medical student’s knowledge is attributed to resident teaching.
To develop the Boot Camp, Binnendyk held focus groups with residents and medical students, reviewed the literature, and worked with key faculty members. Program directors were asked to nominate one or two residents to attend.
“We brought together residents who cared about teaching with engaged, passionate clinical educators,” said Binnendyk. “There was such energy in the room.”
Residents took part in faculty-led workshops on topics such as effective feedback, teaching in the moment, and bedside teaching.
During the bedside teaching session, they had an opportunity to interact with real patients. “The patients were able to tell them what makes them uncomfortable or more comfortable when teaching is happening beside them,” said Binnendyk. “That was a powerful moment.”
Dr. Daniel Pepe, MD’14, a second-year resident in family medicine, attended the Boot Camp. “For me the value in learning how to teach other residents is that it makes you a better teacher of your patients,” he said. “The program taught us not just teaching styles and strategies, but also to be more aware of the person sitting across the desk or bed from us.”
“Residents have a natural empathy and rapport with learners and that makes them powerful teachers. Often physicians looking back on their training will identify residents as their most important and influential teachers.”
- Joan Binnendyk, Educational Developer
Dr. Ho agrees, adding, “Before, I always thought about what students need to learn. The Boot Camp got me thinking about what they want to learn. Now I make a point of asking my students what they want to get out of our time together.” He also appreciates the opportunity to interact with residents from other programs.
The participants completed self-assessments before and after the Boot Camp. Results showed that the percentage of residents who felt well prepared to teach went from 38 per cent before to 88 per cent after the Boot Camp. Other measures showed similar improvements. Drs. Ho and Pepe and several participants presented what they’d learned to other residents in their own programs. Binnendyk observed some of these teaching sessions and provided feedback. “It was exciting to see them using their new-found skills,” she said. “They took what we taught them and personalized the content by making it program-specific.”
The Boot Camp will be held again this year. “I definitely recommend it,” said Dr. Ho. “When residents learn to teach in a better way, students have more buy-in. It’s a more positive experience for everyone.”