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When the student becomes the teacher

‘The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.’ – Malcolm Forbes

The following blog is written by Dr Anusha Jayasekera

From day one of medical school, it is drummed into us that we have entered a lifelong profession of learning. This means that from the very beginning we are primed to be excellent students, with little thought given to the fact that we will one day also become the teachers.

Teaching is a skill that is expected in the clinical environment, but not actively taught to young health professionals. It is largely assumed that we will just ‘pick it up’ along the way. However, like IV cannulation or a respiratory examination, clinical teaching is something that requires deliberate practice

My first rotation was in Aged Psychiatry, and as the only intern on the ward it was a very steep learning curve. I was (and still am) very much in the learning phase of my clinical practice, so it came as a surprise when I realised I was somewhat responsible for the two students that turned up in Week Four.

They were so lovely and enthusiastic, everything you could ask for in a student doctor, but this did add to the pressure I felt to make sure they were getting enough on-the-job experience and education. Until this moment, I don’t think I had properly appreciated how incredible a good clinical teacher is, and how much passion and dedication is required to turn any moment in the hospital into an educational opportunity.

Since this revelation, I have been trying to more carefully observe my senior colleagues in various teaching environments, and begin to mould my own teaching style. Unsurprisingly, the best teachers are often the ones still seeking out their own learning opportunities, whether through research or further education. Peninsula Health is full of such clinicians, which makes it the ideal place for an aspiring medical educator to find their feet.  

So to all the teachers I have had the privilege of working with so far, thank you so much for setting such a great example. And to all the students I encounter while I still have my training wheels on – what I am lacking in experience, I promise to make up for with enthusiasm!