12 Tips for beginning a career in medical education

Interested in medical education? The journal Medical Teacher has started a “Twelve tips” series where they offer ideas & tips relating to medical education. The most recent one really resonated with me as I’m hoping to begin a career in medical education. The authors nicely outlined 12 useful suggestions in beginning a career in medical education. This was definitely not a post where I thought I could teach people about this topic…instead, I did what I do best – take other peoples ideas and broadcast them!

I’ve summarized them below (especially for those without access to the article). The bolded text is directly from the article, while the rest is my own take on it.

1. Reflect first on what you really want. A career in medical education is more than just “teaching”. I could involve research, assessments, curriculum design, administration, etc. Focusing on one area will improve your ability to become an expert and you’ll be able to demonstrate tangible skills. In speaking with mentors of mine, it appears this is one of the most crucial

2. Join a medical education society. Not sure the value of this but the others do offer some compelling arguments such as financial discounts and belonging to an education community. I havent done this so I can’t really provide much perspective.

3. Subscribe to a Journal. I’m lucky enough to use my educational access through my university so I dont have to do this. I’m not sure which journal I would choose if I had to since each Med Ed journal has different perspectives. One thing I do recommend is joining the eTOC (e-mail table of contents) for a few journals. This will alert you everytime there’s a new issue and you’ll be able to review the titles & abstracts. Great way to keep up to date!

4. Workshops. Great idea! Easy way to gain some experience by attending these. I just finished a simulation debriefing workshop last week and not only was it valuable, its also awesome for networking.

5. Higher Qualifications in Medical Education. The authors provide some additional context but basically depending on your centre and where you’re looking for a job, it’s becoming increasingly helpful to look into a certificate, diploma or master’s program. I’m currently enrolled in the Masters of Medical Education Leadership program offered through University of New England. I love the program since it’s distance-education. It has allowed me to integrate all that I’m learning into my current location in Auckland! But there’s obviously lots of considerations

6. Educational Research. Pretty self explanatory, if you’re interested in research then consider pursuing a project in education. Great way to find a mentor (see #9) and also gets you more involved. However, research isn’t for everyone and definitely not the only way to contribute to medical education.

7. Teach at every opportunity. Try something like One-Minute Preceptor!

8. Ask someone to watch you. It can be difficult getting feedback but this will only make you better.

9. Get an educational mentor. This can be difficult depending on your setting but hugley important. They can guide you through your career and provide you with ideas/comments about things you should & shouldn’t try.

10. Organize educational events

11. Develop your educational portfolio. I think increasingly this is becoming a key currency within academia (in medical education). There’s a bunch of ways to construct one. I’m just learning myself but a simple google or pubmed search should provide some ideas!

12. Explore your long-term goals. This is one of the reasons why a mentor is helpful! Also, it will help you decide on what opportunities are worthwhile pursuing and which ones are not.

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