Medical teachers' concerns about the clinical teaching context

Med Educ. 2003 Mar;37(3):213-22. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2003.01437.x.


Introduction: Despite several unique aspects of the medical teacher's role compared to other teachers in higher education, there has been little research in this area. In particular there have been few studies which have explored teachers' perspectives on their role. This study aimed to elicit teachers' perceptions of the teaching environment in a single medical school at a time of curriculum change.

Methods: As part of an ethnographic study to explore the culture of the school, 22 teachers took part in in-depth, semi-structured interviews to ascertain their views and experiences of teaching. Additional data were collected through participant observation of curriculum meetings, and informal data collection. The data were analysed using a grounded approach, which resulted in over 200 analytic codes being assigned, which were later grouped into six main themes.

Results: The strongest themes to emerge were teachers' concerns about the students, the infrastructure for teaching and their relationship with the medical school. These included concerns about the lack of student clerking activity, insufficient monitoring of students, poor support or recognition of teaching and a perceived lack of inclusion in the medical school.

Discussion: The structure and culture within the medical school and associated hospital trust appeared to offer little support for doctors in their teaching role. This suggested that teaching was not highly valued. Teachers were preoccupied with the practical issues of teaching, leaving little time to consider more fundamental educational issues. These findings have implications for the quality of teaching and implementation of curricular change.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural / education*
  • Attitude
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Faculty, Medical / standards*
  • Humans