What can we expect of clinical teachers? Establishing consensus on applicable skills, attitudes and practices

Med Educ. 2008 Feb;42(2):134-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2007.02986.x.


Context: Despite myriad advances in medical education, we have not yet established a universally accepted set of attributes we can reasonably expect from our teachers.

Methods: A modified Delphi technique established the skills, attitudes and practices thought to be core for clinical teachers within our region. We identified relevant statements from the literature. Individuals with significant involvement in undergraduate teaching acted as Delphi panelists. Four statement categories emerged: Preparing to Teach, Delivery of Teaching, Teacher Conduct and Supporting Activities. Two iterations of the Delphi round then took place. In the first round, panelists were asked to accept, reject or develop the statements identified from the literature. In the second round, they were asked to accept or reject modified statements. Throughout the exercise panelists were expected to differentiate between what could be expected from both those involved in clinical undergraduate education and those with a specialist educational remit. Agreement of > or = 80% was used to assign statements to basic or advanced categories.

Results: A total of 38 regional panelists participated in the Delphi process. After the 2 iterations, 27 statements were accepted at basic level, mostly in Teacher Conduct (11), and least in Supporting Activities (2). Overall, only 4 statements scored > 80% at advanced level. Many statements (25 of 56), were not clearly defined as either basic or advanced and failed to gain acceptance > 80% for either category.

Discussion: A useful set of attributes has been developed that can be applied to a majority of clinical teachers. There was less agreement than expected around higher level attributes. Further debate is invited.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Clinical Medicine / education*
  • Consensus
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Teaching / methods*