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Teaching Softly in Hard Environments: Meanings of Small-Group Reflective Teaching to Clinical Faculty

  • Author(s): Whiting, Ellen
  • Wear, Delese
  • Aultman, Julie M
  • Zupp, Laurie
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://doi.org/10.21977/D9812654
Abstract

A vast literature exists on teaching reflection and reflective practice to trainees in small groups, yet with few exceptions the literature does not address the benefits of these interactions to faculty. Like multiculturalism or cultural competency, the literature assumes that faculty have themselves “achieved” these propensities and that trainees are the only recipients of the benefits of such inquiry. One of the noticeable exceptions is Arno Kumagai and colleagues’ article, “The Impact of Facilitation of Small Group Discussions on Psychosocial Topics in Medicine on Faculty Growth and Development,” which found that small group teaching stimulated not only students’ personal and professional growth, but also that of the faculty themselves. Our intent is to continue and enlarge the questions posed in this important article. Specifically, this inquiry focuses on the meanings that clinical faculty derive from teaching medical students in discussion- and reflection-driven small group formats. Why do faculty leave the comfort zone of clinical teaching and take time away from income-generating patient care activities? What is it about this teaching experience that calls them back each year?

In answering these questions, we conducted a qualitative study consisting of interviews and focus groups with 11 clinical faculty participants who teach in Reflections on Doctoring, a required, longitudinal course for medical students. The data of our study provides insight into the thoughts, attitudes, and motives of our faculty who not only view themselves as teachers and mentors, but also as co-learners who engage personally with the medical humanities content being taught. They confront, reveal and resolve challenges presented by literary perspectives and find enjoyment and sense of purpose in teaching non-jaded medical students. Furthermore, what emerged from our study was a deeper understanding of what inspires our faculty to sacrifice their time and effort to facilitate medical humanities discussions with young medical students and how this experience contributes to the ongoing development of their own professional identities.

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