Why should you teach Clinical Skills?

Today’s blog article comes from Dr. Cherie Jones, MD, FRCPC,
Course Director, Clinical and Communication Skills and Ms. Kathy Bowes, RN, Clinical Skills Coordinator.

Clinical Skills training is core to any undergraduate medical curriculum. Here at Queen’s University, first and second year medical students learn “the tools of their trade” in a variety of settings and formats every week. Medical students and clinical skills tutors identify the small group teaching as the most useful and enjoyable aspect of the entire program. Furthermore, despite the significant time commitment clinical skills tutors report that the afternoon small group teaching is a highlight of their week.

“Students are so excited to be finally looking and acting like doctors with their white coats, new stethoscopes…. (they are) keen to learn the skills they associate with physicians. At this stage we can really influence the way they will interact with their patients and the type of physician they will eventually be.”

Dr. Jay Engel MD, FRCPC, Division Head of Surgical Oncology, KGH

In the pre-clerkship clinical skills curriculum, much of what is learned by students occurs in a small group setting of ten students supervised by two tutors. Once a week they meet for an afternoon and tutors guide and direct their students so that they can learn the history taking and physical exam skills that are essential to the competent practice of medicine. This year we asked tutors “Why do you teach clinical skills?”, especially since many return year after year. As most eloquently stated by Dr. Peter Froud….

“Because for many years I have felt that some of the most necessary skills for MDs are those that involve listening and questioning skills and the self-confidence needed for these skills… if I am able to impart all or most all of these skills to a group of new students every year, in my own small way I will be helping….”

Clinical skills tutors take their jobs very seriously. They feel that the role they play in providing feedback is critical for making good doctors; whether it be in the context of interacting with their students every week or during the time outside of the scheduled curriculum correcting case write-ups, reviewing reflection essays and communicating narrative feedback over the course of the term.
Additionally when tutors were asked what advice they would have for physicians interested in becoming tutors, one of our award winning tutors responded …..

“…..I seem to be more confident at it (teaching clinical skills) then I originally thought I was …. now I recognize that I possess professional expertise that not every tutor will have, and that I bring something unique and valuable.”

Clinical Skills tutors teach basic skills for future physicians. It begins with teaching students how to use shiny new stethoscopes, interact with patients, and culminates in the making of a medical student who is well equipped to enter clerkship. At Queen’s University tutors who have participated in clinical skills teaching find it rewarding, one hopes because they have come to realize that their input is critical if we are to create the next generation of competent physicians.

Leave a Reply

Post Timeline

Queen’s UGME Curriculum Committee Retreat Updates
Published Mon, July 25, 2016

Hello all!  I’m writing this on behalf of Dr. John Drover, Chair, UGME Curriculum Committee and Candace Miller, Administrative Support, UGME Curriculum Committee as part of the UGME Curriculum Committee’s commitment to outreach. May 31, 2016 saw an action-packed morning as the UGME Curriculum Committee held its annual retreat from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  One purpose of the annual … Continue reading

Where have all the people gone?
Published Mon, July 18, 2016

Anyone who has grocery shopped at a large supermarket recently will notice that you’re now confronted with a decision at check-out time. You can line up as usual to have a clerk check and bag your items, or you can opt to go to the do-it-yourself kiosk, where you have the privilege of scanning and packing your items yourself. I’ve … Continue reading

Teaching the Way You Practice: Collaborative Active Learning in Different Teaching Settings
Published Mon, July 11, 2016

By Michelle Gibson (gibson@queensu.ca) and Melissa Andrew (andrewm@providencecare.ca) Most health professionals are actively engaged in collaborative practice: working with many different team members from different disciplines to support patients or clients in achieving their health goals. However, we often teach our learners in isolation from one another, and, if we are being honest, co-teaching and integration between disciplines in an educational … Continue reading

Best wishes to our 2016 Grads – beginning residency, and continuing a long tradition.
Published Mon, July 4, 2016

The image below is taken from one of the many graduation photographs hanging on the walls of the School of Medicine Building. The young men in the photo are members of the 1884 graduating class. On the surface, one may be struck by the obvious differences to our current world, in terms of gender and ethnic diversity, medical knowledge, and … Continue reading

Island Inspiration
Published Mon, June 27, 2016

Inspiration comes in various forms and at unexpected times.  For me, it came recently and quite unexpectedly during a brief getaway in Prince Edward Island with three great friends.  Although the trip was structured largely around golf (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), we took the opportunity one evening to attend a concert, the first in an annual series that’s known … Continue reading