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Quick summary: Dr. Epstein never realized how important teaching was, in medicine, and writes about how poorly prepared we are, when we're studying to become physicians.
When I went into medicine, I had no idea that I would become a teacher. I don’t have the credentials of a teacher. I never went to school to learn how to be a teacher.
But, nonetheless, here I am…a teacher.
In medical training, the objective is to learn how to care for the sick and promote health. We spend all of our time in medical school studying about all the aspects of medicine and disease. Nevertheless, at the time of my training, there was no defined curriculum on how to teach or educate others about all the aspects of medicine and disease that we learned about. The best practices of teaching and other educational methods were not something that even crossed our minds.
Yet, at this time, I consider teaching and education as one of the most important parts of my job. Over the years, I have relayed information to trainees in medicine, from nurses to medical students as well as residents and fellows to nurse practitioner students. I have educated families on their children’s symptoms and what to anticipate if their conditions should worsen. Online advocacy and education to promote public health and dispel misinformation or disinformation has been a frequent practice of mine as well, given the prominence of unfiltered information on the internet and social media. Around me, there are endless opportunities to educate and teach others.
Teaching has spread through every aspect of my medical career. So, why were we never trained to be teachers, as well as physicians? Is it just expected that we inherently know how to teach? Did our medical educators feel like we did not need special training? I am not sure what the answers to these questions are. But, I realize that I would have benefited greatly, if there was formalized training in teaching and how to educate others in my medical training.
Educating and teaching is such an important part of the medical profession. In my life, I have been fortunate to come in contact with some amazing educators in the medical field. But, I have also come across some pretty awful ones as well. I have tried to learn from these encounters on how to teach and how not to teach. As I mentioned, I never was never exposed to a formal teaching curriculum. I would never pretend to be of the caliber of those in the teaching profession.
But now, I realize that I am a teacher, even if I never intended to be one when I embarked on my journey into medicine.

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David Epstein, MD, MS, FAAP

Dr. Epstein is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric critical care medicine. He has a passion for community education and advocacy online and focuses on acute care pediatric topics.

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