The Importance of Theory to Inform Practice – Theorizing the Current Trends of Clinical Teaching: A Narrative Review


Clinical teaching lies at the heart of physicians’ training; however, it is often opportunistic, haphazard, and lacks a theoretical foundation. Medical education is a profession that requires robust scientific methods and an evidence-based approach driven by accountability and patient safety concerns in the healthcare provision nowadays. Learning theories are increasingly applied in the realm of medicine with implications to the quality of teaching and learning in the clinical environment and the professional growth of medical graduates. These theories elucidate the basic tenets ambient to the intricate process of learning and answer some basic questions of how people learn. Educational theories provide a myriad of benefits to the teaching and learning approaches in the clinical environment. It arms teachers with a repertoire of educational tools and sets out principles to justify their use and predict the conditions under which they may likely work. It enables clinicians to design their teaching based on well-developed objectives and robust methods for their evaluation. As such, learners’ capacity to achieve clinical competence is enhanced and their identity formation and other essential attributes of clinical expertise are potentiated. However, it has been reported that learning theories are neither well-articulated in clinical teaching nor educators and clinicians are formally trained on their application in the clinical context. Continuous professional development and faculty training about learning theories are essential to lift their capability to teach effectively in the clinical environment. This article revisited the main learning theories and discusses their application to enhance teaching and learning in the clinical context. 

Key words: clinical teaching, educational perspectives, learning theories

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