Developing teacher identity


Clinical instructors play a critical role in health professions education. In many healthcare programs, approximately half of the college credits are earned in the clinical environment. Though instruction in the clinical setting accounts for a significant portion of the curriculum, education programs often rely on healthcare practitioners with little or no teaching experience to serve as clinical instructors. Assigning appropriate individuals to these roles can be challenging. The concept of teacher identity will be examined in detail and the benefits of appointing individuals with a strong sense of teacher identity to clinical instructor positions will be discussed.

Making the transition from practitioner to practitioner-educator can be difficult for some individuals. This chapter as well as the ones that follow are intended to help you gain the necessary teaching skills and confidence to make this transition more smoothly. Keep in mind that effective educators consistently work to improve their teaching practices.

Appointed as a clinical instructor

In many clinical settings practitioners are asked to volunteer or apply for clinical instructor positions. In other departments practitioners may be recruited or simply assigned to these roles. Volunteers are typically preferred, as this is an indication that individuals already envision themselves as educators. Practitioners who are assigned to clinical instructor roles may not be fully committed to providing instruction and will need time and training to settle into their new responsibilities.

Managers who appoint individuals to teaching positions often use seniority as their selection criterion. These managers assume that teaching and evaluation skills have naturally developed over the years along with technical skills (Weidner & Henning, 2004). In truth, very few clinical instructors have any formal preparation for their teaching assignments, and the vast majority do not have any knowledge of the assessment process.

As a clinical instructor your job will be to reinforce content that was taught on campus, demonstrate procedures and proper use of equipment, and foster professionalism and problem-solving skills in the clinical environment. In addition, it will be your responsibility to resolve any student issues that arise. You were selected to be a clinical instructor because you have proven yourself to be a capable healthcare practitioner. Your talents as a practitioner, however, do not automatically make you a good instructor. You will have to work hard at establishing your teaching style.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >