Intended for healthcare professionals


Effective teaching skills for doctors

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 14 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5868
  1. James Hawken, foundation year 2 doctor
  1. 1St Richard’s Hospital, West Sussex Health Trust, UK
  1. jameshawken{at}

Effective teaching skills for doctors is a two day course run by Effective Professional Interactions. The aim of the course is to help doctors develop all aspects of their teaching skills, from tutorials and lectures to bedside teaching.

Who is it for?

This course is relevant to all doctors, but particularly to junior doctors who are looking to develop their teaching skills. It emphasises techniques to consider when planning and delivering teaching sessions and gives attendees the opportunity to put theory and ideas into practice. Candidates on my course were foundation trainees, core trainees, and registrars. The number of attendees on the course varies between five and 10.

When did you do it?

During my foundation year 2, before applying for core training.

Where is it held?

The course was held at Croydon University Hospital, but it is also held in several other UK locations throughout the year.

Why did you do it?

Teaching in some capacity is expected from most doctors and is seen as a key part of clinical development. Doctors receive more teaching than almost any other profession, but teaching is something in which we get relatively little training. I enjoy teaching, but like many other doctors, I feel I could be better at it.

I wanted to attend the course as I felt it would improve my teaching skills and give me more confidence to take on additional teaching roles in the future. Completion of a teaching course also adds weight to core and specialty training applications.

What did it cover?

The course ran from 9 am to 4 30 pm over the two days, with regular breaks for refreshments. It was led by the medical director of Effective Professional Interactions, a general practitioner who now works entirely in medical education.

Day 1 consisted of identifying learning styles and covering some learning theory, before going on to the practicalities of planning a session and discussing classroom activities that can enrich teaching. We also covered the use of role play, how to ask questions, and the right and wrong ways of giving feedback. Towards the end of the day, we broke into pairs to plan a lesson that we would deliver the following day.

The 30 minute sessions we delivered in pairs at the start of day 2 were a great opportunity to put into practice some of the things we had been taught. Identifying clear objectives, the overall structure of the session, and ways to make it interactive and memorable were highlighted as important improvements to our lessons. The chance to experiment by giving a teaching session to a small group and then receiving feedback on it was extremely helpful.

The afternoon session covered working with different audiences, room layout, and controlling groups and difficult individuals, as well as some advice about handling questions. There was also a session on teaching clinical and procedural skills.

Throughout the course all participants had the opportunity to contribute fully through group discussions, and we were encouraged to ask questions and regularly broke into small groups for discussions.

The parts of the course I enjoyed most were the introduction to models of teaching theory and the brainstorming session about ways to make teaching more interactive and exciting.

How much did it cost?

The course cost £245, which included all course materials, lunch on both days, and some refreshments.

Was there an assessment?

We received feedback from the course director and our peers on the teaching sessions we designed and delivered on day 2, as well as informal feedback and encouragement throughout the course.

Would you recommend the course?

I would definitely recommend this course. The course was relaxed, interesting, and enjoyable. The mix of theory and practical advice was well balanced, and the sessions were very interactive with regular discussion and role plays. I went away armed with several ways to make my teaching more effective, and with a greater understanding about the theory behind learning.

Most medical jobs expect doctors to teach. The course is useful for all doctors who teach, whether it is informally to medical students on a ward, or delivering lectures to large groups. The course improved my teaching skills and has given me greater confidence to seek out more opportunities to teach in the future.

Top tips

  • Before the course, think about examples of good and bad teaching that you have experienced.

  • Reflect on good aspects of your teaching and areas for improvement.

  • Consider what you might want to teach in your 10-15 minute session.

Further information

Contact Effective Professional Interactions on enquiries{at};


  • Competing interests: None declared.

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