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Mayo Clin Proc. 2009 Apr;84(4):339-44. doi: 10.1016/S0025-6196(11)60543-0.

Proposal for a collaborative approach to clinical teaching.

Author information

  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. beckman.thomas@mayo.edu


Evidence suggests that inexperienced clinical teachers are often controlling and noninteractive. Adult learning theory states that mature students prefer shared and self-directed learning and that skillful teachers favor facilitating discussions over transmitting knowledge. Similarly, education research shows that effective clinical teachers invest in relationships with learners, ask questions to diagnose learners, communicate complex information clearly, and provide meaningful feedback. On the basis of these principles, we propose a collaborative approach to clinical teaching that has 4 essential components: (1) establish a relationship with the learner, (2) diagnose the learner, (3) use teaching frameworks that engage learners, and (4) develop teaching scripts and a personal philosophy. This article includes suggestions for creating a positive learning climate, asking higher-order questions, providing meaningful feedback, and developing teaching scripts. We believe that practicing this approach, which emphasizes respectful teacher-learner relationships, improves the quality of every clinical teaching encounter.

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