Teaching Undergraduate Medical Students: Exploring The Clinical Teacher Experience

Bussey, Sonia (2019). Teaching Undergraduate Medical Students: Exploring The Clinical Teacher Experience. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f49a


Clinical teachers are responsible for the workplace teaching of Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) undergraduate medical students in the UK. The aim of this project is to investigate how clinical teachers experience their role within the foundations of clinical practice (FoCP) rotation of an undergraduate MBBS medical degree offered by a University in the North of England.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirteen clinical teachers involved in the delivery of the FoCP rotation (delivered during year three of the MBBS programme). An inductive approach based on a social constructivist philosophy was adopted, and thematic analysis used to identify emergent themes from participants. Twenty-nine documentary sources from the university were subsequently collected and used to contextualise the emergent interview themes.

The findings of the research indicate that the role of the clinical teacher is opaque and changeable. Those clinical teachers with professional backgrounds other than medicine expressed different support and development requirements than medically trained teachers. Preparation for a clinical teaching role was described as a continuum that extended from a teacher’s own undergraduate experience to handover at the end of a teaching post. Although career role models were perceived as important for teachers to plan a career in medical education, there was widespread difficulty in identifying suitable role models.

Theoretical outcomes of this research are the importance of identity as a concept, the value of role models in educational career planning and the representation of clinical teacher role preparation as an extended continuum. This research is likely to have important implications for how clinical teachers are prepared, supported and developed. A better understanding of the relationships between the identities, experiences and development of clinical teachers could assist the University in matching the ‘university offer’ of staff development and support with teachers’ needs.

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