Medical student training: Taught time


Taught time is the number of hours a student spends in lessons. There has also been a further categorisation of teacher-centred taught time and student centred taught time.

One model I worked in worked in was the didactic lecture approach of a lecturer standing in front of a class of a few hundred delivering a presentation. The tuaght time there was the full 45 minutes of lecturing and 5 minutes of question time.

Another model was the community health outreach approach where a portfolio had to be filled out by the students visiting the health care centres in the community. The portfolios would then be assessed after their week-long or month-long rotation. The taught time there was not fixed as asynchronous learning would take place. Students would interact with the sources of knowledge for differing periods of time. Complications of this form of teaching is that there was the risk that students making the most of their rotation would learn tremendous amounts and others may not. Students with the inhererent skill of communication and emotional intelligence would gain a lot of insight from experienced siters in the community. Others would not necessarily learn as much. The other danger was “sister-fatigue” where semester upon semester of enthusiastic young tigers eager for new knoweldge would physically and emotionally exhaust community sisters after lenghty year-long exposures. The only taught time that one could be sure of was the formal taught time given during formal and informal sessions. The advantages of this type of teaching was the fact that the students would in effect be submerged in the health system at community level and start to understand the challenges at hand in delivering health at district, provincial and national level

The other model I worked in was the student-centred model where ample time was created for students to discuss the material among their peers and present their opinions to the rest of the class. Taught time by the lecturer diminished and students were taught by means of interaction with one another. Participation of all learners was encouraged, and learners were encouraged to be self-reliant, self-reflective and pro-active. They need to ask questions, teach one another and join in collaborative activities. The idea is that the teacher should speak less. The disadvantage of such type of teaching is that the students can get bored while sitting in their groups of ten around the circular tables and deviate from the lecture during their discussions. One can’t always ensure that everybody participates around the table. Another disadvantage is that there is a need for adapting teaching facilities with this type of teaching in mind. Adapting this form of teaching in lecture rooms sloping 35 degrees or even older still 60 degrees from front to back is not possible. Advantages is that the teacher speaks less and the students speak more.

The other model of teaching I was involved in was taking post-graduate medical students out into industry in order for them to get a better grasp of the vastness of the environment they were functioning in. Taught time was frequently short and given after the visitation when the students were relaxed and able to reflect on the huge amount of visual information they had received during their visit. Drawbacks of this type of teaching that a lot of time is spent in getting to the venue, a lot of time spent walking, difficulty in following the guide (if hearing earpieces were not available), industrial noise problems, students need permission to enter certain areas, students need access to the correct PPE. Advantages included the mind-blowing difference between reading something in a textbook or looking at a photo and being at the industry in person. Another advantage is the automatic reflection that is induced by exposure to a new environment. One could call it a form of “autoreflection”

Another model of teaching I was involved in was getting students involved with community research. The drawback of these teaching opportunities is the massive logistical implications, the complex administrative procedures such as ethical clearance, the dangers of community “research fatigue”. The advantages of this form of teaching is the development of a “corps de esprit” among students, the acceptnace of “ownership” and pride amongst students, the sense of competition, the thrill of presentation and expression of creativity.

Taught time also has some regulatory implications in that a course is accredited according to the number of hours of taught time the course is supposed to deliver