My teaching philosophy is built upon three components: creating a positive learning environment, fostering clinical reasoning skills, and modeling a positive educational attitude.
The best learning takes place in an environment where learners are not afraid of failure — where they can be pushed beyond their comfort zone and still feel supported by both the educator and their peers. Creating a climate of caring and trust allows them to be vulnerable and encourages students to actively participate. Engagement is crucial as learners’ achievements are a product of their own effort. Fostering a safe learning environment enables learners to take risks and expose gaps in their knowledge and provides ample opportunity for furthering their education. To build this learning environment at the start of every teaching session, I tell the learners that I ask a lot of questions, not to demonstrate their lack of knowledge, but rather to learn what people do know so that, together, we can find the right place to start for teaching.
Clinical reasoning skills are vital for everyone in the field of medicine. I strive to help learners build their own conceptual framework for clinical reasoning through pattern recognition and by helping learners make their own connections between symptoms and syndromes. Moving from the simple and continually building to complex concepts helps learners develop their own critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills. While on the wards, I push learners to give me their own differential for a patient’s presenting symptom, then ask them how that differential would change if one semantic qualifier were to change (e.g. the patient’s cough was no longer acute but rather chronic). This encourages not just knowing medical facts, but having a structure for how those relate the patient in front of you.
Finally, learners are most successful when their teachers model behaviors that their educators are trying to promote. Medicine is not practiced in isolation, but rather as a team with our patient, their family, and other medical professionals all working toward the same ultimate goal. I try to model humanism and enthusiasm, even on the longest of days. Teaching is truly something I love and I find it a great privilege to help educate future leaders in the health care field. As an educator, I strive for continued growth and hope my passion for medicine and education inspires learners and models professionalism and enthusiasm whether on the wards, in clinic, or in the classroom.