The traditional models for undergraduate and postgraduate medical education are the classroom model in which students learn through attendance at lectures or practical classes and the apprenticeship model, where students or junior doctors work in the clinical setting with senior staff acting as role models. The former runs the risk of simply being a means to deliver information and promoting superficial or surface learning and divorcing students from the job. The latter runs the risk of opportunistic learning and the potential for the demands of completing tasks interfering with education.
Newer educational strategies are designed to promote deep learning and critical thinking by exploration of knowledge, learning through curiosity and self-direction. They include:
- self-directed learning
- problem-based learning
- task-based learning
- simulated environments.
Self-directed learning moves the emphasis from the teaching and the teacher to the learner and the learning, i.e. away from an emphasis on how something is being taught and by whom, and towards the person who is doing the learning and ensuring that the learning objectives have been achieved.
Problem-based learning (PBL) presents a scenario and students work as a group to identity, clarify and ultimately solve the problem(s). Traditionally this would include a period of self-directed learning and the group coming back together to discuss their newly acquired knowledge. This method is often used to link scientific and medical theory to clinical cases. The role of the tutor within this is to assist/facilitate in the running of the discussions and to ensure the learning outcomes are achieved. An adaptation of PBL is case-based learning.
Simulated environments, such as ward environments, are useful for interprofessional education initiatives, assessing good practice, multidisciplinary working and human factors training.
Human Factors training focuses on non-clinical skills within the healthcare environment, to improve clinical outcomes and patient safety. This has been developed following models from the aviation industry. Training models, such as the one followed by 'TEAM STEPPS™' (Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) works to optimise team performance. It focuses on domains such as leadership, situation monitoring, mutual support and communication.