The surgical clerkship: Characteristics of the effective teacher

David A. Sloan, Michael B. Donnelly, Richard W. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A good relationship between medical students and clinicians is crucial to a positive learning experience. To increase contact between surgical teaching staff and students, a teacher programme was instituted in the problem-based surgical clerkship at the University of Kentucky. This study examined the teacher traits and skills that medical students perceive as distinguishing effective from ineffective teachers. The 312 evaluations collected from students in successive surgical clerkship rotations (87% response rate) were used to determine the characteristics of the effective teacher. Results suggest that students rate increased contact with surgical teaching staff highly and that they value increased mentoring by the staff. The traits of teachers rated highly by students in the surgical clerkship include: being a positive role model, encouraging communication, and being well organized. Comparing data from the 2 years of the clerkship also revealed that providing feedback to staff on their performance as teachers enabled them to improve their instructional skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-23
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Preceptorship
  • Problem-based learning
  • Programme evaluation
  • Students, medical
  • Surgery, education
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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