Practical Tips

These are suggestions about how to get the experience up and running well.  For a more complete resource on teaching medical undergraduates, go to the Resources page where you will find the UME Teacher's Handbook.  Please provide suggestions for additional tips in the Comments field below.

When you first meet with your student, spend some time discussing the activities they will do with you.  Students should be embedded in the workplace activities of your setting.  They don't have other commitments at this time - so they can learn from the work they are doing with you.  However, there may be options in terms of their activities they join you for.  So discuss all the opportunities and work with them to decide what will be best over their time with you.

Clarify expectations with regard to specific activities.  (1) Can the student be on call with you - they can, if there is the opportunity to do so.  (See Policies for more information.)  Discuss the potential and specific activities on call that you would expect.  (2) Is there a set of skills or activities that they should master?  (3) Are there procedures or protocols that you use that they should learn right away? (4) Can the student perform dictations in your setting? (5) Can the student go from location to location easily, if there is an opportunity to do so in your setting?  These are only a few of the issues that you may want to discuss at the earliest opportunity.

Ask the student what they would like to get out of the experience.  Students spent some time picking and choosing their Selectives, and have some ideas as to their personal goals in the experience.  They are looking to "finish" their medical school experience in individual ways, and get ready for their postgraduate training in a few short months.  Your understanding of what to facilitate in their Selective will be greatly enhanced by asking them what they would like to focus on.

Observe your student at work in your setting.  You can be more confident in what they are doing, and in your ability to assess them, by watching their work.  Students have all completed their core rotations in all the basic clinical areas in 3rd year.  They have also enriched their experience in Electives over the last 4 months.  So, they can work quite independently, but can still benefit from your advice and expertise in how to "raise their game".  You will also benefit from more detailed understanding of how well they undertake their work.  So taking some time to watch, now and then, as they perform the routine tasks you have asked them to, will pay off for the student and for you.

Give feedback often.  Feedback in brief, relevant, and focused ways can enrich the work that is done by the student, and keep them engaged in your setting.  Commenting on a job well done, even briefly, helps reinforce good habits.  Giving advice on something that should improve, in the moment that you see it, is very important for the student's development to the next level of independence.

Focus on the workplace skills you see.  As discussed in the Evaluation page, the student's grade in your Selective is based more upon the general workplace skills, such as Communication, Collaboration, Advocacy, time management, etc., which the student will really need in any residency program.  You can mentor your student in how to develop a greater level of independence in your setting by focusing on these in your teaching and feedback.  And along the way, if there is a knowledge gap - don't be afraid to address it!

Engage other partners as needed.  You personally may not have a schedule that allows the student to be engaged 100% of the time.  While a little "downtime" is not a bad thing, one way to augment the experience for the student is to have them work with a colleague, an allied health professional, or go to a different location (testing facility? agency?) for short periods during the Selective.  The potential partners will vary tremendously with the setting.  However, the more "occupied" the student, the better the experience will be.

Teach briefly, and often.  Workplace based learning is augmented by teaching best, when the teaching is embedded in the work it relates to.  For example, if you witness a consent discussion between the student and the patient, immediately afterward you could give them a 2 minute coaching chat on how to do it more efficiently or completely.  Next time you see them do this, comment on how well they followed your advice.