What Makes A Teacher Influential? Ask The Teacher.

TEACHER QUALITY: This qualitative study describing characteristics of influential teachers turns not to learners, but to teachers. The authors asked respected teachers selected to participate in a faculty development program to write about their most influential teachers from when they were students or trainees. Of the 20 of 22 faculty members who participated, 13 named clinical teachers (including one who named himself!), and 7 named non-medical teachers (art teacher, college professor, etc). Notably, these teachers tended not to be course directors, department chairs, or have other official roles. In using grounded theory to analyze the narratives, the authors report that all influential teachers shared qualities of excellent teaching and a caring and selfless relationship with their learners. While these findings are not novel, they do give us pause as we consider the fact that much of what defines success for medical school faculty is research or clinical productivity. If medical schools are not investing in developing or rewarding excellent teachers, who have to meet research and/or clinical productivity measures to demonstrate success, their “caring and selfless relationships with learners” may be threatened. — Sarang Kim, MD

Osterberg L, Swigris R, Weil A, Branch WT Jr.  The highly influential teacher: recognising our unsung heroes. Med Educ. 2015 Nov;49(11):1117-23.

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