Observation of clinical teaching: interest in a faculty development program for surgeons

J Surg Educ. 2011 Sep-Oct;68(5):372-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


Objectives: Observation of clinical teaching is a powerful tool to develop faculty teaching skills. However, the process of being observed can be intimidating for any educator. Our aim is to assess interest in an Observation of Teaching Program within an academic surgical department.

Design: An electronic survey asking faculty to indicate interest in participation in a faculty development program that consists of a peer, expert, and/or cross-disciplinary physician observation of teaching was used. Faculty members were also asked whether they would like to observe other faculty as part of a peer-review track. The results were compiled for descriptive statistical analysis.

Setting: Electronic survey.

Participants: In all, 46 faculty, all of whom have assigned medical student and resident teaching responsibilities, were introduced to the Observation of Teaching Program and surveyed on their interest in participating.

Results: A total of 87% (40/46) of faculty responded after 2 e-mails and 75% (30/40) indicated interest in the Observation of Teaching Program. All faculty who responded positively indicated interest in expert review (30/30), 90% (27/30) in peer review, 87% (26/30) in surgeon review, and 83% (25/30) in cross-disciplinary physician review. A total of 48% (19/40) indicated interest in observing others. Of those who were not interested in the Observation of Teaching Program, restrictions on time (4/10), not enough clinical care responsibilities (2/10), not wanting to be watched (2/10), and program did not seem effective (1/10) were cited as reasons for not participating.

Conclusions: Surgical faculty are interested in being observed and receiving feedback about their clinical teaching by experts, peers, colleagues, and cross-disciplinary physicians. Professional development programs for surgeons should consider observation as a teaching methodology.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Data Collection
  • Faculty, Medical
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Observation*
  • Students, Medical
  • Utah