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Med Teach. 2013;35(2):156-9. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2012.737961. Epub 2012 Dec 11.

Tomorrow's educators … today? Implementing near-peer teaching for medical students.

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  • 1University of Adelaide, Faculty of Health Sciences, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.



The University of Adelaide offers a six-year undergraduate medical degree with a focus on small group learning. Senior medical students had previously received limited formal training in education skills, and were identified as an underutilised teaching resource.


To devise a programme in which senior students are exposed to the various facets of university teaching responsibilities and to evaluate its impact on both the tutors and the students.


A six week rotation in medical education for final year medical students was designed and implemented in 2010 to involve them in the development, delivery and assessment of the 1st and 2nd year medical programme as near-peer tutors (NPTs).


Two years after the rotation's implementation, voluntary evaluation of both the junior students and NPTs was undertaken through a mixed methods approach of survey and focus group. Junior students (n=358) revealed the NPTs provided non-threatening learning environments, provided helpful feedback and acted as role models. Additionally, the NPTs (n=24) reported they had consolidated prior knowledge, developed their teaching skills and expressed a desire to be more involved in teaching in the future.


The implementation of NPTs in the teaching of junior medical students appears to benefit both students and their near-peer colleagues. Involvement of NPTs in all facets of medical education through this rotation stands to not only foster potential interest in an academic pathway but also equip them with a variety of transferable skills which they can draw on as future educators in their profession.

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