Ian Currie, Honorary Secretary, writes…
Pedagogy is the science and art of education. Its aims range from the full development of the human being to the acquisition of skills. Within medical education we require enthusiastic, skilled teachers who can spot an individual’s strengths and nurture them, rather than expecting them to excel in every aspect. Education and training is at the very core of the College.
When I was choosing my own career path, I knew I wanted to move into a surgical specialty. As a junior doctor I looked at which aspects of medicine I enjoyed and wanted to pursue, but I experienced some difficulty in the decision- making process. Fortunately, it transpired that obstetrics and gynaecology was to be my choice and the principal driver in that decision-making process was the enthusiasm of a particular consultant who made teaching his priority.
I particularly remember one cold winter evening in Yorkshire, being called out of bed at 3am and summoned to the labour ward to join four other bleary-eyed medical students was not a pleasant experience initially. This Consultant held each of our four hands in turn and placed them onto a patient’s abdomen. We were told never to forget the findings of our examination and to embed the diagnosis of an abruption in our minds. That ability to identify the woody hard uterus of an abruptio placenta has stayed with me throughout my career.
It has been said that a good teacher is passionate about their subject and generous with their time so they can pass their knowledge on to others. Imagination allows a varied teaching style and being able to listen allows for constructive, honest feedback to all students equally. A great teacher continues to learn from others every day; they adapt and reinvent their practice continually.
Not everyone can be the perfect teacher but I believe we all have the ability to learn how to impart our knowledge constructively to those for whom we are responsible. We all have days in our clinical lives when we just want to get on with our jobs, see our patients and the last thing in our minds is to teach. I admire all grades of doctors who have the resilience, under the pressures of the working day, to always welcome students and trainees. You know who you are and your students and trainees know who you are. You will not always be rewarded for your outstanding work, but trainees will carry your legacy with them and you will shape their careers with the pearls of wisdom you leave them with. I salute you.
RCOG Honorary Secretary