Background Clinician-delivered teaching is too often a hierarchical unidirectional transfer of information that is merely endured by medical students. Personal experience suggests that medical students commonly organise their own informal learning sessions that they find enjoyable and valuable. In this pilot study, I attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of peer teaching in clinical medical students.
Description of Innovation: A teaching session integrating simulation and formative OSCE was designed for a group of third-year Medical students to enable each student to watch and provide constructive feedback and teaching to their partner performing the OSCE. A focus group was conducted before and after the session to evaluate the effectiveness and value in the peer-led teaching session.
Outcome The students found the session enjoyable and beneficial. Interestingly, the constructive feedback received from their peers were deemed more honest and critical than that from a clinician. When presented with contradictory information, they were more likely to engage in active discussion and debate with their peers than with a clinician. They reflected that this enabled enhanced learning, perception and understanding of the subject material. They also exhibited maturity and selectivity when receiving and dissecting teaching and feedback from their peers. In addition, promoting peer teaching encouraged healthy teamwork and fostered an environment that favoured mutual support and encouragement in performing the OSCE.
Take Home Messages The inevitable authority gradient1 that exists in any clinician-student relationship discourages medical students and junior doctors from disagreeing with their superiors.2 A great teacher educates by encouraging their students to think, discuss and critique any received information and instruction. More work is needed to explore and reduce the impact of hierarchy in the clinical and educational environment. This pilot study shows that when provided with the opportunity to teach, medical students will rise to the occasion for their peers.
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Sexton JB, Thomas EJ, Helmreich RL. Error, Stress and Teamwork in Medicine and Aviation: Cross sectional Surveys. BMJ 2000;320(7237):745–749
- Category: Course or curriculum evaluation/innovation/integration
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