10 suggestions for health professions educators

Here are 10 suggestions for teachers in health professions education. These are not rules but rather a set of ideas that I think are powerful for enhancing students’ learning. There are others that are just as valuable but these are some that I like.

  1. Challenge students to do work at a higher level than they think they’re capable of. Students aren’t afraid of working hard; they just don’t want to be bored.
  2. Let go of power. Teaching is about developing independent thinkers who question authority. Let them learn by questioning yours.
  3. Teaching is about creating conditions that optimise for student learning. Everything that happens in the classroom should be informed by that singular idea.
  4. What students know should be subordinate to how they think. Assessment tasks should therefore focus on students’ thinking and not on what they know.
  5. Help students learn to negotiate uncertainty and develop a comfortable attitude towards ambiguity. They will need this in clinical practice.
  6. The next 50 years of physiotherapy practice will be vastly different to the last. Pay attention to the changes that are coming to our health systems and help students prepare for them.
  7. Feedback is about having a conversation with students where your objective is to help them to figure out how to do it better the next time. Design their learning tasks so that there is value in attending to your feedback.
  8. Learning happens in the mind of the student and only in the mind of the student, and they can’t be made to learn. But, you can create a space where they want to.
  9. Don’t confuse movement with progress. Giving students a lot of work is not the same as giving them an education.
  10. The Evidence will only get you so far. Creativity. Innovation. Relationship. Human connection. Empathy. Wonder and awe. Imagination. These are harder to cultivate but are more powerful for learning.