Skills we want our students to have

wood_carver-573x341This post was inspired in part by this article on the 10 skills that every student should learn. These are some of the skills that we’re intentionally trying to help our students develop, as a way of integrating them into the culture of professional clinical practice.

  1. Reading carefully. If you can read you can learn anything, it is the gateway to all knowledge.
  2. Touch type. Not being able to type is the modern equivalent of not being able to write.
  3. Write persuasively by developing and supporting arguments with evidence. Our students must develop the skill of communicating in the language of the profession. Writing also means being able to structure their work, because there is meaning in structure. It helps to develop logical thinking, beginning with an introduction, developing the argument, and concluding it. Drafting is an important means of refining their understanding, and discarding ideas that don’t fit. Simplify the sentence so that it conveys only what is necessary. Being concise and clear in presenting their thoughts.
  4. Conduct research. Identify missing knowledge or information. Question everything. For everything that they do or say, they need to have a reason. Why do a grade 3 and not a grade 4 mobilisation? Why at L3 and not at L5? Why stretch the soleus and not the gastrocnemius? A healthy skepticism should inform their learning. Think like scientists. Be comfortable saying: “I don’t understand, can you explain that again?”. Developing their own questions as a way of finding answers to fill in gaps in their own knowledge. Challenge authority. Question the way that the world is (or the way it is presented to you) with the intention of figuring out ways to make it better.
  5. Use technology as part of their learning environment. Developing skills in managing information. Searching, filtering, aggregating, summarising, synthesising, and sharing information. Identifying credibility in a source. Know when to stop looking.
  6. Collaborate. Working together to solve complex problems.
  7. Accountability. Make a statement of belief, backing it up with evidence. Stand by your statement. Commit to it.
  8. Care. Care about what you’re learning. Care about doing your best.

I’m sure that I could carry on with this list, seeing that there are clearly many other skills that we aim to develop. But for now, I think that this is a useful point at which to pause and reflect.