Background: We reviewed the medical-education literature in order to explore the significance and importance of teaching medical students about education principles and teaching skills.
Aims: To discuss reasons why formal initiatives aimed at improving teaching skills should be part of the training of all physicians, and how it could begin at the medical-student level.
Description: In this article, we propose several reasons that support formal undergraduate medical training in education principles: (1) medical students are future residents and faculty members and will have teaching roles; (2) medical students may become more effective communicators as a result of such training, as teaching is an essential aspect of physician-patient interaction; and (3) medical students with a better understanding of teaching and learning principles may become better learners. We suggest that exposure to teaching principles, skills, and techniques should be done in a sequential manner during the education of a physician, starting in medical school and continuing through postgraduate education and into practice. We outline learning objectives, teaching strategies, and evaluation methods for medical-education components in an undergraduate curriculum.
Conclusion: Medical students' informal teaching activities accompany, facilitate, and complement many important aspects of their medical education. Formally developing medical students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes in education may further stimulate these aspects.