For the past 25 years I have coordinated the surgery curriculum in the medical program and I view the teaching of medicine a special case in the university. Much of the teaching is willingly undertaken by clinicians with a general interest in teaching but who also have competing interests, including hospital and general practice responsibilities. Little teacher coaching is offered and clinicians either pick up teaching skills by default or depend on the goodwill of other coordinators.
I know most medical schools have increasing numbers of graduates but they receive little resourcing to help with these increasing numbers. We receive plenty of platitudes from the university, but with our focus on patient care, it is sometimes difficult to meet the students’ needs. Clinicians work hard to prepare our students in medicine and though we rarely receive thanks for doing well, we hear from the Faculty quickly when something goes wrong.
Our undergraduates are exposed to surgery lessons in different teaching modes such as large class lectures, limited small group work, a little one-on-one tuition and we offer opportunities to work in out-patient clinics. In my view the current quality of learning is an issue. I see a decline in student learning because small group work is viewed as a luxury and is not provided frequently. Students graduate lacking appropriate real patient experience which can take up to ten years clinical experience to rectify. Despite this, students make no mention of lacking support and they provide positive feedback on our courses.
Sometimes I still feel frustrated that the university is slow to take up emerging technologies and that there is such Faculty bureaucracy to navigate before any change is possible. Fortunately, I learnt over time that it is counter-productive to become caught up in the small stuff so I remain resilient and wait patiently for change to occur. Without individual resolution I would have moved on years ago but I am fortunate that I enjoy my work, have many interests and remain motivated to start each day early.