AMEE Guide no. 34: Teaching in the clinical environment

Med Teach. 2008;30(4):347-64. doi: 10.1080/01421590802061613.


Teaching in the clinical environment is a demanding, complex and often frustrating task, a task many clinicians assume without adequate preparation or orientation. Twelve roles have previously been described for medical teachers, grouped into six major tasks: (1) the information provider; (2) the role model; (3) the facilitator; (4) the assessor; (5) the curriculum and course planner; and (6) the resource material creator (Harden & Crosby 2000). It is clear that many of these roles require a teacher to be more than a medical expert. In a pure educational setting, teachers may have limited roles, but the clinical teacher often plays many roles simultaneously, switching from one role to another during the same encounter. The large majority of clinical teachers around the world have received rigorous training in medical knowledge and skills but little to none in teaching. As physicians become ever busier in their own clinical practice, being effective teachers becomes more challenging in the context of expanding clinical responsibilities and shrinking time for teaching (Prideaux et al. 2000). Clinicians on the frontline are often unaware of educational mandates from licensing and accreditation bodies as well as medical schools and postgraduate training programmes and this has major implications for staff training. Institutions need to provide necessary orientation and training for their clinical teachers. This Guide looks at the many challenges for teachers in the clinical environment, application of relevant educational theories to the clinical context and practical teaching tips for clinical teachers. This guide will concentrate on the hospital setting as teaching within the community is the subject of another AMEE guide.

MeSH terms

  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Preceptorship / organization & administration*
  • Preceptorship / standards
  • Teaching / methods
  • Teaching / organization & administration*
  • United Kingdom