Tips FROM students!

For the past 4 months I have been tutoring medical students in both Year 1 clinical skills and Year 3 case based learning. Before this, colleagues had always said that you learn so much from students. I have found this to be very true. It has also been a great way to look my own consulting and examination skills and find areas for improvement. Here is a short list (that will hopefully grow) of things that I have taught, I have learnt and that bring a smile to my face. If you are a clinician, I highly recommend doing teaching of some sort.

  • Avoid negative leading questions “you havent been febrile have you?” It leads the patient to an answer, I’m guilty of it sometimes too!
  • If after your beautiful open question the patient says “I have a cough.” Instead of jumping in to closed questions, ask another open question like “tell me more about the cough…”
  • Explain examination procedures to patients in simple terms. So instead of saying “I’m going to percuss the lower lung fields,” you can say “Im just going to tap on your chest quickly.”
  • If you state the absence of esoteric signs (Janeway lesions), be prepared to explain what they are a sign of
  • To save you time listening to the chest say to the patient “take a big deep breath in and out through your mouth everytime you feel the stethoscope on your back
  • Its called a ‘tongue depressor’ not ‘suppressor’!
  • Avoid saying “cool” or “excellent” when asking history. It’s good that you have got the information, but it doesn’t sound great if they’ve just told you about their bowel cancer. Say “ok” or “mmhm.’
  • Don’t pronounce the ‘p’ in ptosis
  • Pt: “I havent seen a GP in 35 years.” Student: “Well its good that you came to see us today.” Great line
  • Recap your history at the end. It gives yourself some time to remember any points you might have forgotten, the patient might remember something and it shows you’ve been listening!
  • If a patient says they are not smoking, make sure you ask if they have every smoked.
  • Similarly if you ask about recreational drugs, it’s a good idea to list some common examples.
  • Be non-judgmental about any answer that comes back.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence. In fact if there is a large pause, let the patient break it.


One comment

  • This is why I love teaching in all its forms so much, I always feel like I get just as much out of a teaching session from my students as they do from me. I even get them to ‘Pendleton’ me and get great insights this way.

    Hopefully, of course, this is a true reflection of the fantastic benefits of teaching, and not my blistering incompetence as a clinical teacher.

    May 28, 2013

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