MANUSCRIPT: Facilitators of high-quality teaching in medical school: findings from a nation-wide survey among clinical teachers.
Clinical teachers in medical schools are faced with the challenging task of delivering high-quality patient care, producing high-impact research and contributing to undergraduate medical education all at the same time. Little is known on the gap between an ‘ideal’ environment supporting clinical teachers to provide high quality teaching for their students and the reality of clinical teaching during worktime in the clinical environment. Most quantitative research published so far was done in a wide range of medical educators and did not consider individual academic qualifications. In this study, we wanted to survey clinical teachers in particular and assess the potential impact of individual academic qualification on their perceptions.
Based on qualitative data of focus group discussions, we developed a questionnaire which was piloted among 189 clinical teachers. The final web-based questionnaire was completed by clinical teachers at nine German medical schools.
A total of 833 clinical teachers (569 junior physicians, 264 assistant professors) participated in the online survey. According to participants, the most important indicator of high quality teaching was “sustained student learning outcome” followed by “stimulation of interest in the subject matter”. Lack of time was the main factor impeding effective teaching (78%). Among the factors facilitating high-quality teaching, protected preparation time during working hours (48%) and more recognition of high-quality teaching within medical schools (21%) were perceived as most helpful. Three out of four teachers (76%) were interested in faculty development programmes directed at teaching skills, but 60% stated they had no time to engage in such activities. With regard to evaluation, teachers preferred individual feedback (75%) over global ratings (21%). Differences between assistant professors and junior physicians were found in that the latter group perceived their teaching conditions as more difficult.
Lack of time is a major barrier against planning and delivering good clinical teaching in medical schools. According to our findings, the situation at German medical schools is particularly challenging for junior physicians. Creating an institutional culture in which teaching is regarded as highly as patient care and research is a prerequisite for overcoming the barriers identified in this study.