Date Published: 15 September 2006

British Medical Association (BMA) calls for better teaching training for medical doctors

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Teaching is a vital part of doctors' work but is badly undervalued, according to the BMA.

The ?Doctors as Teachers' report from the BMA's Board of Medical Education says that although all doctors are involved in teaching to some extent, it has a poor profile compared to their other responsibilities. It calls for doctors to be afforded opportunities to undertake teacher education.

The number of clinical medical lecturers in the UK fell by 36% between 2000 and 2003, while the number of medical students has risen by 40% since 2000. This has required many NHS doctors to take on additional teaching responsibilities with insufficient time for preparation, seriously compromising quality of teaching, the report says. In addition, the large number of doctors who teach informally are insufficiently supported.

As well as unprecedented pressures to meet targets, the report says doctors are facing new problems, such as reduced opportunities to teach because of shorter hospital stays, and fewer patients consenting to be teaching cases.

?Doctors as Teachers' calls for funding for doctors' education to be made more transparent. It says there is anecdotal evidence that funding that should be spent by medical schools on teaching is being used inappropriately to fund research and non-medical activities.

Commenting on this, Sir Charles George, chairman of the BMA Board of Medical Education, said:

Medical schools have a dual role between carrying out research and teaching doctors. It is vital that the boundaries between these are clearly defined so that research is not subsidised at the expense of education.?

Other recommendations in ?Doctors as Teachers' include:

  • Doctors' teaching skills should be regularly consolidated and updated
  • Medical teaching should be recognised as a core professional activity equivalent to research and patient care
  • Doctors should be better rewarded for teaching

Sir Charles George added:

Teaching is a core professional activity for doctors. We shouldn't rely on it being acquired through chance, aptitude, or inclination alone. There is a pressing need to redress the imbalance between teaching and all the other activities that doctors perform. Doctors need to be given the support and flexibility to teach - protected time for education is essential.?


Source: British Medical Association, UK

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