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Students as teachers

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Students who learn to teach effectively may facilitate other students’ learning and their own

Few would challenge the assertion that senior doctors play a vital role in teaching and supervising peers, junior colleagues and students. Junior doctor teaching of medical students is also significant, and students estimate that up to one-third of their knowledge can be attributed to junior doctors.1 Effective teaching is a learned skill; teaching workshops develop and refine teaching skills, improve attitudes towards teaching and may introduce new teaching tools.2 Such “faculty” development, although more available these days, still remains optional for many, and particularly for junior doctors, learning such skills may compete with patient care responsibilities and specialty training.1

We believe Australian medical schools should strongly consider implementing a comprehensive, vertically integrated student teaching program employing peer-assisted learning (PAL). PAL refers to “people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn and learning themselves by teaching”.3 Through PAL, students learn how to teach and give feedback, and under supervision are given the chance to practise and consolidate these skills. It has been used successfully…