Chip and I love this post by an ob/gyn, which is titled “Teaching medicine to residents and students.” Lots of concrete examples of good versus bad teaching techniques. In particular scroll down and read the author’s 4 different options for presenting the “differential diagnosis of amenorrhea” (from the “right way” to the “disaster”). Here’s a quote:

I refuse to introduce topics with “this disease is veeery important because it is veeery expensive and xxx billions are spent annually on blablabla….” This is such a horrible introduction. Boring. Xxx billions means nothing to me, absolutely nothing. I can’t even imagine a billion dollars, I stop thinking after 20 million, since I would retire and sail around the Caribbean if I had them. And what do the billions matter to your practice? Nothing, nada, zilch, zero. It might matter to federal policy makers. Are those people seeing your power points?

What matters to me is “what percentage of patients that walk through my office door have this” because that determines if I am going to do something about it, how seriously I am going to take it and what I am going to do…

And finally, topics should be taught in a clinically relevant way and not in a pathologically / systematic way. It is depressing when students or residents are shown long lists of differential diagnoses with weighing them according to clinical importance. It is absolutely impossible to remember the 22 causes of amenorrhea when they are presented as a long systematic list. It is an insult to the learner! Presenting a list without weighing the differential diagnoses by frequency of occurrence means that the teacher really does not care about the student and just slaps something on the slide in who-cares-what-you-can-learn-from-it style.

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