Volume 3, Issue 1 - Winter 2012

Resident as a Teacher: Effective Teaching Strategies

December 27, 2012


Role of residents as educators is increasingly recognized.  However, little data are available on which teaching strategies are the most effective for imparting knowledge in the busy clinical learning environment between medical students and residents, when the resident is the teacher.  We attempted to identify the most effective teaching strategies that foster exchange of information between residents and medical students and further use this information to recommend a needs assessment for a Resident-as-Teacher (RaT) program at the Brooklyn Hospital Center.

Materials and Methods:

Descriptive survey approach was used, with self-completed paper questionnaires that were completed and collected anonymously from March until June 2011.  The questionnaire explored preferences  and views amongst residents and medical students as to what are the most effective teaching strategies that optimized the learning for medical students when the resident is the teacher.   The survey was piloted and modified accordingly. 


A total of 318 respondents were included in the study representing  63% of our residents and 68% of medical students  present at the Brooklyn Hospital during study period.  The following areas of education experience were explored:

-          Small Group Sessions led by Resident – rated effective by 92 % residents and 94.4 % of students

-          Sign-outs by residents – rated effective by 57% residents and 57% of students

-          Student doing History and Physical by him/herself – rated effective by 86.6% of residents and 90.5% of students

-          Journal Reviews by residents – rated effective by 73% of residents by 60% of students

-          Student observing History and Physical done by a resident – rated effective by 85% of residents and 72% of students.

The rest of educational activities that were assessed had great variability of responses that was difficult to analyze reflecting heterogeneity of opinions among different specialties chosen by residents and students.


The effectiveness of the teaching strategies between residents and medical students seems to vary in different clinical rotations/programs, given the busy and complex nature of the learning environment.

Students and residents views were in concordance on effective and non-effective teaching strategies when the residents are the teachers.  Respondents rated teaching strategies as most effective (with high concordance) when the students were more active participants  such as small group sessions, and resident-supervised history taking, physical exam and procedures.

Observational strategies, sign outs and morning reports were rated as less effective.  Discordance in views of the respondents on teaching strategy effectiveness was observed for journal reviews, student observing history and physical or procedures.  Year of training and program/specialty choice had variable influence on effectiveness rating of the strategies.  Overall, students enjoyed learning when residents are the teachers and residents enjoyed teaching the medical students, according to their responses.

Further studies are essential to explore the effectiveness of these teaching strategies in a larger population of resident-teachers and medical students.


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