Two-year longitudinal observational study of junior doctors as clinical teachers: the Associate Clinical Teaching Fellow Program
Keywords:Medical Education, Associate Clinical Teaching Fellow (ACTF), Faculty Development, SFDP-26, Stanford Faculty Development Program, Clinical Teaching Effectiveness Questionnaire
Introduction: Most clinical teachers are not trained to teach, though they are critical to determining the quality of clinical learning environment. The General Medical Council, United Kingdom, recognises that being a good teacher is not innate, but that skills and attributes can usually be acquired. Clinical teaching is part of training of junior doctors in the United Kingdom, and from learners’ perspectives, junior doctors are effective clinical teachers, but there are few structured opportunities to learn how to teach during clinical training. The Associate Clinical Teaching Fellow (ACTF) program was developed to provide such structured platform for clinical trainees. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the quality of teaching by the trainees against the current-standard of clinical teaching in the first 2 years of its inception, and to adapt validated feedback questionnaires for practical use.
Methods: A prospective longitudinal observational study was done over 2 years in a large 1,215 bed tertiary hospital. Multiple cross-sectional assessments of teachings by ACTFs and consultant teachers were done using two validated questionnaires, the Stanford Faculty Development Program-26 (SFDP-26) and the Clinical Teaching Effectiveness questionnaire (CTEQ), and an in-house global (IHG) feedback form prepared by third- and fifth-year students. Both trainees and consultants were unaware of the timing of the SFDP-26 and CTEQ feedbacks. A graphical representation of all responses was used to create a grading system for practical feedbacks.
Results: A total of 507 of 765 (66%) of SFPD-26 and CTEQ and 224 of 286 (78%) of IHG questionnaires were returned for 26 trainees and 31 consultants by 266 medical students. There was a statistically significant higher ratings of trainees in seven of eight domains of SFDP-26, and the median (interquartile ranges [IQR]) overall score was 115 (105–126) and 108 (99–121) for trainees and consultants, respectively (P < 0.0001). Similarly, trainees were rated significantly higher in seven of nine CTEQ domains, and this was reflected in the overall score. The patterns were similar for third- and fifth-year students, and the type of learning exposure did not make a difference. With these students, the overall teaching effectiveness correlated (Spearman Correlation Coefficient [SCC]) the most with enthusiastic and stimulating (SCC 0.711; P < 0.0001), establishes rapport (SCC 0.69; P < 0.0001) and is accessible (SCC 0.67; P < 0.0001) in CTEQ, and with learning climate (SCC 0.62; P < 0.0001), communication of goals (SCC 0.54; P < 0.0001) and evaluation (SCC 0.52; P < 0.0001) in SFDP-26.
At the end of their rotations, 30% of both groups of students were neutral or disagreed that consultants were essential to their clinical programs compared to 15% (P = 0.001) and 11% (P < 0.0001) of third- and fifth-year students, respectively, felt about trainees. By applying a new grading system derived from the full database of responses, the trainees would be graded 1 and consultants 7 out of 10 possible grades.
Conclusions: Teaching delivered by doctors in training within a formal teaching program is of good quality and well received by medical students. There is a need for an equivalent program for trainee clinical educationalists like the Integrated Academic Training scheme of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), UK, for trainee academics. More qualitative studies are needed to analyse some of the findings in this study.
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