How to set up a teaching programme

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to set up local, regional and national teaching programmes with top tips we’ve learnt over the last several years of running programmes ourselves. We include top resources to make your life a lot easier. We welcome your questions and we offer our personalised help if you want our help in designing your programme on our Discord.

What are your aims?

Here are some questions to consider regarding the different priorities to balance and your motivations behind running the programme.

  • Subject: What is the most useful & helpful thing for you to teach?
  • Style: What teaching style will you use? E.g. bedside, lectures, tutorials etc.
  • Specialty Points: How can you maximise the CV points you’ll get by running the programme?
  • Sustainable: Can you commit to the time requirement? Do you want your programme to go on after you leave?

Choosing your subject

It is vital you choose the right topic to maximise engagement and for your students to genuinely enjoy your teaching. Please take a moment to consider their curriculum aims or deficits in knowledge – you can simply ask them! For medical students, their curriculum is usually in their handbook whereas for junior doctors the best teaching is situations they’re likely to encounter frequently. Don’t forget to consider what you are most proficient in teaching!

Choosing the right style

Once you’ve picked the topic, you need to consider how best to teach that topic. It is important to consider how proficient the person you are teaching needs to be in the topic. For example, consider the topic of “Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding”

  • Pre-clinical medical students (e.g. second year) would need to understand the different causes of the pathology therefore you may choose a lecture
  • Medical students in their first clinical placement year (typically “third year”) may prefer taking a history to demonstrate awareness of how to identify the likely cause
  • Medical students in their final year or FY1 may prefer a simulated scenario where the focus is on management and dealing with an acutely unwell patient

Maximising Specialty Points

Different specialties vary in what they require for maximum teaching points and this tends to change each year often at the very last minute. Nonetheless, demonstrating a strong commitment to teaching is key to maximising specialty points but is also very helpful for the interview. The maximum requirement of any specialty is that “teaching is regional/national, led and organised by you with recruitment and/or involvement of local tutors and runs regularly for at least 3 months with evidence of high-quality feedback that praises your programme.”

This is something we specialise in at Mind the Bleep because every team member recruited to deliver teaching should achieve maximum points in this section. For any teaching programme you run, ensure you work with others (“involvement of local tutors”) to deliver the teaching session over at least 3 months to increase the number of points you gain & to share the workload. If possible, try to ensure it teaches students from more than one area (e.g. invite from other hospitals or universities) to extend your reach.

To obtain more points, you should aim to apply QI methodology to improve your teaching programme by applying interventions through PDSA cycles after x number of sessions and assessing for improvements. You should then aim to present this at a conference to try and win a prize. This means a single project that you complete efficiently can help you achieve points in multiple sections. Once again this is something we support all of our team members to achieve with many winning abstracts and prizes as a result so reach out on our Discord if you’d like a hand!

Evidence Letter

It is important to receive a letter to evidence that you have run the teaching programme. This could come from your consultant/department, but we recommend informing your medical education department of any teaching you plan to offer as a letter from them usually looks more impressive. The letter should clearly say what you did using similar terminology to your specialty recruitment criteria to not allow for any ambiguity. Your evidence letter should aim to be short and to the point as it acts as a cover letter to your teaching summary & feedback summary.

Example Feedback Form

We recommend using a Google Form attached to a spreadsheet to collect your feedback as this allows for easy analysis and a summarised report for your portfolio. Here is an example of the questions you could ask:

  • Date
  • Grade
  • Type (E.g Bedside, Tutorial, Lecture, Simulation)
  • Topic
  • How useful was the teaching (0-5)
  • Did the tutor know the topic well (0-5)
  • How confident did you feel BEFORE & AFTER (0-5)
  • What three things did you find useful about the session?
  • What three things about the session could be improved?

Sustainable

You must ensure you are able to provide the time needed to run the teaching programme without burning out & without it becoming unsustainable. Many tutors approach me with ambitious projects where there is plenty of 1 to 1 feedback or teaching – but you cannot keep doing that without it eating up a lot of your time. Furthermore, if you wish that whatever you set up to continue after you leave, it needs to be built in a way where people would be motivated enough to keep it going after you leave. Think honestly & openly about the amount of time you have to genuinely offer the programme and assume your estimates are about half of what’ll be required in reality.

Setting up online content

An important aspect of keeping the project easy & sustainable is setting up content online. You might wish to set up a resource pack that your students and/or tutors can easily access. Students always ask for handouts summarising their learning points. Tutors always love easily accessible resource packs to be able to deliver teaching with less work.

Google Drive is our top recommendation as you can then keep your feedback form & resources all in one place but OneDrive on your NHS account can be helpful for things that you may wish to keep confidential and restrict access.

You may also wish to set up an educational website to host your content. You’re welcome to reach out on [email protected] and I can guide you through how to do it. This site uses WordPress (the most popular & easy to use content management system) which I host on Cloudways servers. I made many mistakes choosing the wrong platforms & host leading to massive issues so I’m keen to help you learn from my mistakes!

Examples of Teaching Programmes that balance these priorities with top tips

Lecture-based Programmes

It is generally very easy to set up an online or in-person teaching programme of 12 webinars (weekly over 3 months) where you provide oversight of a curriculum and recruit others to deliver parts of it. I recommend running these online as this allows you to easily expand it nationally with an online feedback form to obtain feedback. It is easy to apply QI/PDSA methodology and present your work to maximise points.

My top tips would be as follows

  • Use Canva or SlidesGo to create beautiful presentations. Personally, I use a premium Canva account but both have excellent free versions. Canva Pro allows you to use premium designs, whiteboards and has many more photos and graphics which I use all the time. Professional looking presentations builds confidence in what you present.
  • Ensure your slides have minimal text. The less on your slides the more they focus on you. Questions & polls can really help to keep students engaged.
  • Provide certificates for those who complete feedback as a free incentive to do so. Personally, I use MedAll to both host my webinars & provide certificates for free.
  • Aim to record your sessions and upload them for maximum reach – around 50% of our monthly viewers watch recordings on YouTube.
  • You are welcome to seek our help. We are happy to provide you with advice & support to help you build your project or you can collaborate with us at Mind the Bleep using our audience (25k users monthly) & resources to make things easier for you – just use this form to get in touch.
History or Examination

This is something easy to provide (as it is something we all are incredibly familiar with given we do it every day) and is something students love (given they love exam-based teaching to help them pass their OSCEs). Furthermore, there are plenty of excellent resources where you can find excellent videos or print out scenarios (e.g. OSCE Stop, GeekyMedics & OSCE Stations).

It is important that you try to work with someone else to run this programme as it reduces your workload but also qualifies as working with and/or recruiting local tutors. This is important as this type of teaching can be significantly resource-intensive as you need far better student-to-tutor ratios. It can be difficult to run this sort of programme nationally as it generally does need to be in-person but you could consider running some sort of hybrid session over video call (example below).

Here are some examples of how you could set up a history of examination teaching session:

  • Show students a video of an examination or a live demonstration and then ask them to repeat this in pairs as you go around providing constructive criticism. You could send this video in advance.
  • Students could prepare different examinations in advance and then demonstrate them live with constructive feedback which they and others can use to learn & develop
  • Students could submit different scenarios (or you could find them online) and then they could practice in front of the group. You could ask those observing to comment on different aspects e.g. clinical, body language, ideas/concerns/expectations (ICE) etc.
  • Develop an OSCE circuit where half of the students are first patients and the others are going around being examined and then it is switched
  • Online video calls where pairs of students can demonstrate histories (or examinations if together) and be critiqued. The benefit is this can reach a national audience which often increases the points you obtain towards your specialty applications.
Tutorial

Tutorials are often described as teaching sessions where you ask your students to engage in some sort of activity. Rather than a lecture which is generally quite passive with occasional polls or questions, this could be taught by conversation or discussion often with cases or questions as the focus. Whilst this requires you to develop resources in advance and needs small groups to work effectively, you can really engage with your students and get high-quality feedback on your teaching skills. With video calling so readily available, it is also very easy to run this teaching nationally for maximum reach & to score maximum points.

As you will be investing significant amounts of time in delivering teaching & creating resources, you need to ensure the students that sign up really do turn up. To achieve this you can either charge a small refundable deposit (using Eventbrite or PayPal for example) or have a policy and/or agreement that if they do not turn up they forfeit the ability to attend your sessions in the future.

Here are some examples of tutorials you could provide:

  • Prescribing sessions where you offer different cases for students to work through
  • Exam-focused sessions on topics such as the SJT, MSRA or membership exams
  • Interview courses where you guide your students through how they may approach different questions
  • Cases in your specialty or area going through a discussion about assessment, diagnosis & management

If this type of teaching is of interest to you, again feel free to reach out as we’d be happy to support you in running it!

Bedside

Students usually find this the most helpful session as it is incredibly practical. You can go through history, examination, diagnosis, reviewing investigations or management in a highly engaging way. The beauty of this style of teaching is typically it requires no preparation – you can simply teach on the job often performing tasks that are already required but with commentary and discussion. However, it is incredibly challenging to organise regional or national teaching in this style that consists of the series of sessions you often require for your portfolio. This really disappoints me as it is my favourite style of teaching but is frequently underused.

There are many ways to deliver effective bedside teaching which I explored by running several programmes. During my foundation years, I ran a programme recruiting all my colleagues and we split up all the students into groups which were taught by pairs of tutors. Fortunately, we had visiting students from other countries/medical schools which helped me achieve the “more than local” status that I needed to maximise my ability to apply to my desired medical training programme. I created a Google Form which allowed students to provide feedback for whichever tutor had taught them immediately allowing us to identify those who delivered the best teaching and learn from them as well as those FY1s struggling to find the time to deliver teaching so that students could be reassigned. My top tips for running this sort of programme include having the medical education team on board for providing letters & developing a learning contract within each group which increased student engagement who felt their learning needs were being explored.

In-Person Course

I run free in-person courses every year to help prepare newly graduating medical students for FY1. You’ll be able to see our advert for last July here. In-person courses, whilst requiring a lot of investment in time & money, are fantastic. They offer the opportunity for concentrated teaching (and assessment if you wish) with maximum return for both students and tutors.

In-person courses usually use a combination of many different types of learning methods listed above. My favourite way to run them is to use an OSCE-style circuit where each station can be a different aspect or perspective which students can rotate through. For example, for our FY1 course, we use different scenarios (on calls, emergencies, communication, ward work) which FY1s rotate through to simulate their first few weeks. Another thing you can do is run a mock OSCE examination for medical students or simulated emergencies & practical procedures for junior doctors.

If this is something that you really want to do, please reach out by completing our form. We can help you find sponsors, tutors and generally support you in running this is really important to us!

Final Comments

Medical Education is awesome. It helps us understand our knowledge better and sharing it is an integral part of training. This is the reason we all volunteer our free time to keep this running so please reach out if you’d like to discuss any education projects or to join us!

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