Universiteit Leiden

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‘Patient demonstrations are a good tool in medical teaching’

On 7 July 2020 medical lecturer Luuk Willems received his SKO certificate (Senior Teaching Qualification) and may now officially call himself a senior lecturer. The course has meant that he now has clear ideas about what he wants to achieve in his teaching. ‘I want to strengthen my role as a coach and examine the IT possibilities more closely.’

SKO Luuk Willems
Luuk Willems: ‘I want a lot of interaction in my teaching.’

What subjects do you teach?

‘I teach various medical subjects, from basic anatomy and physiology to the latest advancements in medical science. The bulk of the teaching concerns the first- and second-year medical curriculum. The lecture I feel most at home in is the one about lung sounds. It is based on casuistry, there is a lot of interaction, it is a very practical lecture and there is room for a bit of humour. I teach this lecture in the medical degree programme and in adult education.’

How would you describe your lectures?

‘Giving a lecture starts with good preparation: what is the message, have I put too much information in one lecture, how do I get my message across? And to me interaction is an important part of that. I regularly use live polls to encourage interaction. Patient demonstrations are also a good tool in medical teaching, especially for first-years: you can test the theory against the practice and invite an expert to speak.’

On 7 July 2020 twelve motivated lecturers received their Senior Teaching Qualification (SKO) This is part of a series of interviews with lecturers who have completed their SKO. Part of this course entails assembling a portfolio, in which the trainees show that they have met the four attainment levels: professional practice within the academic teaching environment; creating teaching material that relates to the context of a curriculum; having an impact on teaching in one or more training programmes.

What motivates you as a teacher?

‘I enjoy working with young people. It is wonderful to see how they improve their level when they have completed a module. It is the same for adult education.  It is very encouraging when it clear that your teaching is appreciated. It is worth investing a lot in the preparation of your teaching, and in thinking about the way you want to address the target group effectively and to make them feel enthusiastic about the subject! But individual tutoring is also wonderful: to challenge an intern during a clinic to get them to ask the right questions and come to the right conclusions, to show them how to place a thorax drain or to carry out a bronchoscopy and then to witness how they manage to do it themselves.’

What have you learned from the SKO-course?

‘The SKO course has made me aware of my reasons for handling the teaching in my own way. It also showed me which teaching methods suit me and what motivates students. Within this context it was very helpful having to work out assignments together with other trainees and to study the literature. Important core elements which I formulated for myself in this course include: respect for patients, fellow course students, colleagues of your own and other departments, orientation on casuistry, the teacher as role model, and visualisation. I have discovered that I want to take on the coaching role a lot more. And I have also realised that I need to look more closely at IT possibilities. Covid-19 arrived in our country while I was following the SKO course. During this period, it has become clear that educators and teachers are able to switch very quickly, and that there are a lot of possibilities in online teaching.’ 

SKO Luuk Willems
Willem: ‘Not enough use is made of the clinics as a learning environment. It is very effective and most doctors enjoy allowing a student to shadow them.’

And what is the most important point from the course?

‘Concerning the objective working out the IT possibilities I am certainly motivated by the corona troubles and the fast adjustments we had to make subsequently.  I want to build on those experiences.  I also want to offer myself as a sort of support help desk for younger colleagues and students who aspire to work in education.’

What should be changed in the medical curriculum?

‘The start of the curriculum seems essential to me and something is missing there. During the introductory lectures I regularly see a large group of interested young people who are keen to ask questions and get involved. Six months on there is not much left of that enthusiasm and in the tutor sessions attitudes soon become engrained as to which students lead and which ones follow. Hardly any preparation is done for the tutor sessions. It is quite possible that in this type of contact teaching we try to add too much content instead of getting the students to apply the acquired knowledge.’

‘Also, we could use the clinics far more as a learning environment. I have noticed that nearly all the doctors enjoy having a student shadow them in their clinic. This is a one-to-one, practice-oriented teaching method which, relatively speaking, demands little energy from students and is certainly highly motivating for students in their first and second years. Finally, we should look carefully at the teaching material. This should be a combination of fancy, fast and result-oriented media as new material and of books that are possibly out of date on certain points but with the right didactic approach. 

‘It is a shame that, while the guidelines for the medical degree programme are increasingly tightened up, they do not include much on pathophysiology, which is essential for a good understanding of medicine.’

Medical photos: Unsplash/@nci
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