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Few medical faculty members are adequately prepared for their instructional responsibilities. Our educational traditions were established before we had research-based understandings of the teaching-learning process and before brain research began informing our understandings of how humans achieve lasting learning. Yet, there are several advantages you may have. If your expertise is at one of the frontiers of human biology, your teaching can be inherently fascinating to aspiring health professionals. If your work has implications for human health, you have another potential basis for engaging future clinicians. And, thanks to Claude Bernard's influence, you likely are "process oriented," a necessary mindset for being an effective teacher. There are also challenges you may face. Your medical students will mostly become clinicians. Unless you can help them see connections between your offerings and their future work, you may not capture and sustain their interest. To be effective, teachers, like clinicians, need to be interactive, make on-the-spot decisions, and be "emotional literate." If you aren't comfortable with these demands, you may have work to do toward becoming a truly helpful teacher. Program changes may be needed. Might your program need to change 1) from being adversarial and controlling to being supportive and trust based or 2) from mainly dispensing information to mainly asking and inviting questions? In conclusion, making changes toward becoming a truly helpful teacher can bring benefits to your students while increasing your sense of satisfaction and fulfillment as a teacher. If you choose to change, be gentle with yourself, as you should be when expecting your students to make important changes.
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