Residency

Focused faculty development produces better teachers

Residency Program Insider, February 3, 2009

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Training faculty on how to be more humanistic teachers and consequently, more humane physicians, makes them more effective instructors and leads to better patient–physician communication, according to a new study from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“Our goal with the study was to determine if fine-tuning processes to develop humanistic or compassionate and skillful communicators would achieve this outcome,” said lead author William T. Branch Jr., MD, professor and director of the division of internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in a Jan. 26 press release.

Researchers defined “humanism” as a system of beliefs in which human interests, values, and dignity are high priority. This definition closely fits the ACGME definition of professionalism.

Twenty-nine faculty members from five medical schools completed the 18-month faculty development course. Researchers compared these faculty members to 47 controls from the same school, with similar specialties and years of experience.

Authors developed the Humanistic Teaching Practices Effectiveness Questionnaire (HTPE), a 10-item survey that measures themes of humanism. Medical students and residents taught by the study participants and controlled then filled out the HTPE survey, according to the press release.

Faculty who completed the training scored better the controls on all 10 questionnaire items.

“On the basis of the results from this study, we predict that favorable changes in the informal curriculum can be achieved by developing teachers who are more caring persons and clearly connect with and inspire others,” Branch said in the press release.

The study was published in the January 2009 issue of Academic Medicine.



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