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

Why, What and How We Teach at Queen’s Medicine.v3
Published Mon, December 15, 2014

For a teenage boy growing up in a small town, the local auto mechanic can become a best friend and key to social success. I had great admiration for one in particular who would let me watch and explain what he was doing as he went about trying to resuscitate whatever antiquated pile of spare parts I was currently passing … Continue reading

Enjoy these early and lasting gifts from the Bracken Health Sciences Library
Published Mon, December 8, 2014

By Suzanne Maranda, Head, Bracken Health Sciences Library When I meet faculty in person, especially if I’ve not seen them in a while, or if they are new to Queen’s, they often embarrassedly admit that they never come to the library. Over the years, I’ve refined my answer: ”Oh, but you do; you probably just don’t know it. Most links … Continue reading

Curriculum Committee Meeting Highlights – October 23 and November 27, 2014
Published Fri, December 5, 2014

Faculty and staff interested in attending Curriculum Committee meetings should contact the Committee Secretary, Candace Miller, at candace.miller@queensu.ca for information relating to agenda items and meeting schedules.   Highlights from October 23, 2014: The Curriculum Committee has now approved the following: Policies/Procedures: Visiting Medical Electives Policy (updated) Observership Policy and Procedures (updated)   Highlights from November 27, 2014: The Curriculum Committee … Continue reading

Medical Student Debt:
Published Mon, December 1, 2014

Is it a problem, or just a shrewd investment? By the end of his or her medical education, the average Canadian graduate will owe $71,721. That amount, which has increased by about 7.3% over the past 5 years, may seem either huge or trivial depending on your perspective and stage of life. Interpretation might be enhanced with a few more … Continue reading

WHAT’s NEW in the world of Learning Technologies ?
Published Mon, November 24, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to attend the DevLearn 2014 Conference.   The conference was about discovering tomorrow’s learning technologies, strategies and practices today and joining the community of industry pioneers that are exploring the new learning universe and are defining the future of training and development. I jam packed my days with amazing learning sessions that I thought we … Continue reading