Physician educators' perceptions of experiences contributing to teaching

Ting Lan Ma*, Joseph A. Costello, Ting Dong, Steven J. Durning, Lauren A. Maggio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Physician educators are essential in training the next generation of physicians. However, physician educators' perspectives about what experiences they find beneficial to their teaching and the prevalence of these experiences remain unknown. Guided by social cognitive career theory (SCCT) and communities of practice (CoP), we explored what experiences physician educators perceive as beneficial in preparing them to teach. Methods: In 2019, the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine in the United States surveyed its physician alumni to understand their education experiences during medical school, their current career path and what has contributed to their teaching role. Content analysis was applied to extract themes across the text response. Chi-square analysis was applied to examine if perceived contributing factors vary based on physician educators' gender, specialty and academic ranks. Results: The five most prevalent contributing factors participants (n = 781) identified are (1) experiences gained during residency and fellowship (29.8%), (2) teaching as faculty member (28.9%) and (3) class experiences and peer interaction during medical school (26%). We organised three themes that reflected major avenues of how physician educators acquire teaching skills: reflection about quality teaching, journey as learners and learning by doing. Gender and clinical specialty were differentially associated with contributing factors such as faculty development and meta-reflection. Conclusion: The results are in line with theories of SCCT and CoP, in which we identified self-directed learning and regulation in shaping physician educators' teaching. The findings also revealed gaps and potential contexts for more formalised teaching practices to develop physician educators.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Teacher
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes


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