Teaching to learn

I was so pleased to receive this guest posting this morning from Stuart Henochowicz, M.D., who has his own blog (well worth checking out--burkemed.blogspot.com). Here are some of his thoughts on serving as faculty:

    Middle-aged physicians such as I frequently look for opportunities to expand their intellectual horizons. Continuing medical education courses in such rough-terrained places as Hawaii or Colorado clearly have a hold on physicians' interests. In those locations one can have the illusion of learning while recreating in a major, and expensive way. For the guilt-ridden among us, there is another, more disciplined approach, that of teaching. I have found teaching to be the most productive tool of learning. As in, "Oh my God, I am going to be talking to these people about a topic and I don't want to sound like an idiot."

    The challenge to teach was sounded today at a meeting that I went to at Fairfax hospital in Northern Virginia. Fairfax started as a community hospital and has burgeoned into a full-service tertiary care center with medical students and residents from local schools such as Georgetown and Howard. The Medical College of Virgina, located in Richmond, is expanding into Northern Virginia through Fairfax hospital, sending 3rd and 4th year students to the hospital campus. Clinical faculty is needed to teach these 21st century students, who will actually learn procedures through a computer-guided simulation center. Real Fantastic Voyage sort of stuff.

    Delivering medical education, whether to students or to clinical peers, requires preparation, data synthesis, and a sense of imagination about future directions. It is often a nerve racking, but always satisfying, experience. I still get a rush when I see a student taking notes about something I have just said, or I get asked a question by someone who has obviously been listening to my babbles. You get the sense of new possibilities with eager and creative students, and that is always wonderful to see. They say the best things in life are free. Alas, teaching as a volunteer clinical faculty member certainly qualifies. But, hey, it's fun and clearly worth doing.

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