Improving Healthcare Education Teaching Skills: Generic Instructor Course
Written by: Elizabeth Molyneaux
‘See one, do one, teach one.’ This common saying in the medical field summarises the idea that all healthcare workers are responsible for educating others by passing on knowledge, best practices and evidence-based care. This acknowledges the value of the experience gained by healthcare workers in their daily work. However, excellent doctors, nurses or technicians are not always equipped with the skills to be a good teacher, mentor or coach.
Acknowledging this gap, the global medical profession is pushing to improve the quality of healthcare teaching. Equipping both clinical and technical professionals with better teaching and mentoring skills is key to the quality of healthcare education and, ultimately, healthcare delivery.
Building Capacity and Improving Outcomes through Training of Trainers
To improve healthcare outcomes, the World Health Organization (WHO) set global universal health coverage goals, including goals for training healthcare workers to deliver quality care. This provides momentum for countries to strengthen their healthcare training and thereby improve their healthcare outcomes.
As training efforts gain government-level attention, countries are examining ways to make sustainable improvements. They are partnering with organisations that can help support training as part of healthcare system improvement plans. Countries often welcome help from groups such as NEST360, an international alliance of experts focused on ending preventable newborn deaths at hospitals across Africa by delivering and sustaining affordable health technologies and services.
In their training resources, NEST360 has developed a Generic Instructor Course (GIC) to build the teaching and mentoring skills of clinical and technical professionals. In general, the GIC is designed to equip potential instructors with the skills of how to teach life support courses. However, the principal skills of teaching adults in different learning environments are beneficial far beyond these specific courses and can inform all teaching. The GIC developed by NEST360 adheres to an internationally recognised GIC methodology based on The Pocket Guide to Teaching for Clinical Instructors by the Advanced Life Support Group and Resuscitation Council (UK).
“The GIC is not about teaching content but is all about how trainers communicate with students. We want it to provide what people want and something that is useful for different cadres of staff in different settings.”
While this type of course is common in Europe, it is seldom taught in low- and middle-income countries. To address this gap, the education team at NEST360 adapted the European GIC model to create a course for low-and
middle-income countries, and, in doing so, have promoted a training model that has the potential to deeply impact the delivery of teaching in hospitals and educational institutions in low- and middle-income countries.
GIC Brings Together Clinical and Technical Participants
The NEST GIC aligns the course with international standards and delivers materials that are adaptable for educators across different countries. It also takes the unique approach of bringing together clinical and technical participants in the same classroom.
“What is unique about the GIC is how it defines a team. The team is not nurses or doctors exclusively. The team also includes biomedical technicians. Our GIC has something for health professionals, administrators, and engineers. It is designed to be flexible.”
This approach of bringing the medical and technical groups together was developed based on findings from a detailed needs assessment, which included interviews and surveys with both trainers and healthcare providers in the low- and middle-income countries. It was discovered through the assessment that doctors, nurses and engineers, who all work together every day to support patient care, approach their work strictly from either a clinical or technical perspective. The NEST360 team responded to these discoveries by adapting their GIC model to train both clinical and technical biomedical professionals together—providing a space for the whole patient care team to learn together and share their different perspectives.
“We don’t usually teach like this in biomedical engineering. Being able to understand this bigger connection and what the priority is from the clinical side completely changes the way technical staff engage with their repair and maintenance responsibilities.”
The GIC is about learning how to teach and about practicing how to teach others. By combining classes of technical and medical professionals, neither one is the expert. Everyone has an equal chance to learn about a new subject from a new perspective. As a result, the classroom becomes a safe environment to contribute meaningful interaction and everyone comes out of the class motivated to teach.
“Even if you are very experienced, you go away reminded of something. Anyone interested in teaching will learn something new. Everyone comes out motivated to teach and inspire others to be better. For the rest of their lives, they become mentors that people look up to and will never teach the same way again.”
Through this model, trainers learn about quality training methods. They gain an understanding of the importance of the interaction of all the roles involved in improving the quality of care in hospitals. And, through improving training methods, countries will be able to build the next generation of the healthcare workforce and improve the quality and delivery of healthcare worldwide.
NEST360 offers the GIC as a free, open-source training course that is both recognised worldwide and is appropriate for use in a local context. The materials may be applied to all medical and technical education and act as a blueprint for countries to build more skilled trainers.