What are the Principles of Clinical Teaching?

Dr. Adarsh Jha

April 13, 2023

Clinical teaching is a key component of medical student training. It encompasses a wide range of educational settings, from journal clubs to morning reports and teaching rounds.

Excellent clinical teaching reflects the combined knowledge of the teacher and their learners. Taking into account a student’s personality, home life, and cultural background is an essential part of this practice.

Principle 1: Effortful and challenging learning

Students learn best when learning is effortful, challenging, and long-lasting. Studies show that students remember more when they do tasks that feel difficult or challenging (Bjork & Bjork, 2011).

Clinical teachers help motivate their students by providing constructive feedback and encouraging them to practice skills that will be useful in real-life situations. They can also encourage students to adopt a growth mindset—a belief that their abilities and talents can be developed through hard work.

Clinical teaching can be a challenge for preceptors who lack specific training and experience in medical education. These challenges may include personal or professional events that interfere with their availability to teach, as well as students’ perceptions of the teaching.

Principle 2: Continuous learning

In today’s fast-changing world, continuous learning is a must. This will ensure that your employees are up-to-date on the latest trends and software updates and will keep them on the cutting edge of their field.

In addition, it shows your employees that they are valued and important to the company. It also keeps them engaged and interested in their work, which is important for employee retention.

Investing in continuous learning is more cost-efficient than hiring new employees, and it shows your staff that you are committed to them. This is a great way to retain your best talent and improve your workforce in the long run.

Principle 3: Feedback is very important.

Feedback is a vital part of clinical teaching as it helps learners improve their performance. The process starts with the practitioner and learner clarifying their learning intentions or goals.

Then, it is important to provide frequent and ongoing feedback for learners to monitor their progress.

This is also a way for teachers to learn more about their student’s needs and how they are coping with the course.

The purpose of feedback is to increase a learner’s understanding of the knowledge, skills, and behavior required for a particular task. It is important to provide feedback that is positive and corrective.

Principle 4: Spaced practice and learning are more effective than massed practice.

One of the most effective learning strategies is to space out studying. Massed practice (studying in a single long session right before an exam) is not effective and has little effect on long-term retention.

A study showed that when students studied eight new English words, they learned them much more effectively if they were studied in short sessions spread out over a week than if they were studied in one long session. They also performed better on a test after they had studied the words.

Principle 5: Deliberate practice

Eminent performers across every field—from writing, sports, programming, music, medicine, therapy, and chess—follow the same path to expertise: deliberate practice.

Expertise requires years of focused practice conducted under the supervision of a mentor. It is structured to improve specific aspects of a skill through defined techniques, with tailored goals and feedback.

Principle 6: Feedback is very important.

Feedback is a vital component of the educational process. It helps learners develop effective learning strategies and improve their performance.

Giving feedback is a skill that requires practice, but it is a key element of clinical teaching. It should be given in a timely manner and with clarity of purpose.

Learners often misperceive feedback and find it difficult to accept weaknesses in their performance. Therefore, medical educators need to consider ways of facilitating their perception of feedback and its effects on learning.