Practical Doc

Time-efficient Teaching

I don’t have time to give seminars; how can I teach?

The good news is that seminars or lectures are not the ideal way for adults to learn. Learning by doing is much more relevant, so working on clinical problems with you in the office or hospital has the greatest value for students or residents.

Key features of adult learning

  • Active process
  • Problem based
  • Relevant to student’s needs
  • Immediate feedback
  • Supportive environment

Case based teaching

Teaching around cases is the core of clinical teaching. Time is precious, so it’s important to be efficient. Train your learner to be succinct in case presentations and avoid the temptation to give mini-lectures. Students will retain the information better if they have to dig for it.

These videos, below, provide an overview of some of the ways you can succeed with time-efficient teaching.

Case discussions


Chart reviews


Direct observation


More formal teaching

If you do have some time set aside for a teaching session consider these alternatives to a formal seminar.

Student presentations

  • Many clinical cases raise important teaching points, e.g. “What is the best antihypertensive treatment for a diabetic?” Rather than taking 15 minutes out of your clinic to explain, have your student review the topic and present the answer.

PBSGL modules

  • The Foundation for Medical Practice Education - - has produced Practice Based Small Group Learning modules on common topics in family medicine. Working through these cases with your student or resident provides a great review of current literature. A number of these modules are available through the Departments of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.

Role play

  • Improve your learner’s communication skills by playing the part of a patient with a common problem, such as a middle aged male wanting a PSA test or a female considering hormone replacement therapy.

For more about time-efficient teaching visit Educational guides for teaching in a clinical setting

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