Teaching skills for medical residents: are these important? A narrative review of the literature

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: There is extensive evidence, mainly from the United States and Canada, that points towards the need to train medical residents in teaching skills. Much of the “informal curriculum”, including professional values, is taught by residents when consultants are not around. Furthermore, data from the 1960s show the importance of acquiring these skills, not only for residents but also for all doctors. Teaching moments can be identified in simple daily situations, like discussing a clinical situation with patients and their families, planning patients’ care with the healthcare team or teaching peers and medical students. The aim here was to examine the significance of resident teaching courses and estimate the effectiveness of these courses and the state of the art in Brazil. METHODS: We conducted a review of the literature, using the MEDLINE, PubMed, SciELO and LILACS databases to extract relevant articles describing residents-as-teachers (RaT) programs and the importance of teaching skills for medical residents. This review formed part of the development of a doctoral project on medical education. RESULTS: Original articles, reviews and systematic reviews were used to produce this paper as part of a doctoral project. CONCLUSIONS: RaT programs are important in clinical practice and as role models for junior learners. Moreover, these educational programs improve residents’ self-assessed teaching behaviors and teaching confidence. On the other hand, RaT program curricula are limited by both the number of studies and their methodologies. In Brazil, there is no such experience, according to the data gathered here, except for one master’s thesis.