Has bedside teaching had its day?

Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2012 May;17(2):301-4. doi: 10.1007/s10459-011-9308-1. Epub 2011 Jun 17.


Though a diverse array of teaching methods is now available, bedside teaching is arguably the most favoured. Students like it because it is patient-centred, and it includes a high proportion of relevant skills. It is on the decline, coinciding with declining clinical skills of junior doctors. Several factors might account for this: busier hospitals, broader roles of clinicians, competing teaching modalities, and the limited training of clinicians as medical educators. However, bedside teaching offers unique benefits. Students gain first-hand experience of the doctor patient relationship. They see the process of interacting with patients, investigative yet sensitive, demystified. Certain clinical skills, like the recognition of the tactile sensation of hepatosplenomegaly cannot be simulated elsewhere. We advocate the preservation of bedside learning experience. Teaching guidelines should be written to minimise disruption to ward work, and to ensure the preservation of patient autonomy. Greater emphasis should be placed on bedside skills in the undergraduate curriculum. For teachers, training in teaching methodology should begin at undergraduate level, with subsequent protected teaching time in job plans. This would increase not just the quantity, but also the quality of bedside teaching.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Group Processes
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Models, Educational*
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical
  • Teaching / methods*