Structuring ward rounds for learning: can opportunities be created?

Med Educ. 1998 May;32(3):239-43. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.1998.00201.x.


This paper explores the ways in which ward rounds can be conducted to maximize educational opportunities, as part of a project to improve the effectiveness of on-the-job training (OJT) for hospital doctors. Ninety ward rounds taken by 24 trainers in the Anglia region were observed. Each observation produced a note of the ward round's structure and routines and of the contributions made to it by trainers and trainees. Teaching was a feature of all ward rounds and different types of rounds were valued for different reasons. A range of ward round structures was observed and, within each, a range of routines for conducting the round. Ward round structures fell into four categories, with almost three-quarters of trainers making no use of either pre- or post-round meetings. Where such meetings took place, however, opportunities for OJT were created and, in some cases, optimized through routines to encourage trainee contributions. Discussion time away from patients structured into ward rounds enabled trainers and trainees to take advantage of many opportunities to learn from service. Although unplanned and unsystematic opportunities for OJT do arise, far more reliable are those created through systematic planning and preparation. Trainers have choices to make about how they conduct ward rounds and by choosing to make use of pre- and/or post-ward round sessions, valuable opportunities for OJT can be created.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • England
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / education*
  • Patients' Rooms
  • Teaching / methods*