UCSF Study: Resident Teachers Can Achieve Evaluations Similar to Faculty with Mentorship and Coaching

The following was written by Dave Naeger, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Radiology in the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Course Director for Radiology 140.03 “Diagnostic Radiology,” Radiology 140.19 “Advanced Clinical Radiology”, and Radiology 140.21 “Radiology Primer”.

Our latest study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology confirms that residents can be as effective as attending radiologists when it comes to teaching medical students, and medical schools could consider including more residents in their teaching programs.

The research compared medical student evaluations of radiology faculty members, fellows and residents during a one-year period in our biggest radiology elective, Rad 140.03 “Diagnostic Radiology”. There was no statistical difference between the evaluations for faculty and residents, though fellows who tended to have a shorter history with our elective, scored slightly lower.

Given that teaching can be an educational experience for residents, involving radiology residents in medical student teaching may benefit students and residents alike.  To help residents learn how to teach, all residents were given some level of mentorship in the creation of their lectures. As course director, I monitored very closely all evaluations and immediately helped residents improve in areas of weakness. With this guidance, our highly engaged UCSF resident volunteer teachers scored very similarly to our highly engaged volunteer teaching faculty.

Teaching medical students is important and necessary. Many students will choose Radiology as their future specialty after being exposed to preclinical and clinical radiology in courses and clerkships. Also, the students who do not go into radiology must be competent and judicious orderers of imaging in their future practice. Teaching helps radiologists have a more visible role in the healthcare enterprise!

The need for high-quality instruction remains strong -- often stronger than the supply of teachers, because the most-experienced instructors face many competing demands, such as pressure from research, clinical practice, and grant funding activities. Additional educators, in the form of mentored residents, fellows, and visiting faculty, help provide an excellent educational experience and ensure we have plenty of teaching time with students.

Though the program has been wildly successful, not all residents have had the opportunity to try teaching. Going forward, we will continue to recruit interested residents. We consider teaching a useful skill, regardless of career path. And for those interested, we will continue to offer guidance and support as residents build their skillsets, both at the PACS station and behind the lecturn.

For more information, see the full study here.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation!