I was educated in one medical school. I have since worked in that medical school and currently work in a different medical school.
This is something that I have observed: the rhetoric of the university is directed almost exclusively towards research.
I am a teacher not a researcher. I’m doing a bit of research at the minute cause it’s fun and it’s probably worth doing if you’re gonna take 2 years out of clinical medicine.
But my day job is teaching. I have a real passion for teaching. I think teaching of the next generation of health professionals is really, really important.
Part of the reason I say this is that my own experiece of being taught was often profoundly dissappointing, especially in retrospect. In my youthful naivety I didn’t notice. I have a good friend of my age who took the extremely ballsy decision to quit one job and pursue medicine. Watching him progress I realise how often he has been failed by his “teachers”.
Teaching is hard to measure. The students we (only in part, as part of a much bigger system) produce are our publications. We’re not what you would call “peer reviewed”. I can’t put be first author on any of these publications.
I have mentioned this before but I see teaching in medicine as profoundly relational and personality dependant. The way we deal with our students. The way we deal with our patients has a significant effect.
Now here comes my assertion. And it is very much an assertion, I have no proof for this, and it is of course a grossly generalised statement.
- the people who make the best researchers are often not the best teachers. On occasion they’re dreadful. Despite this fact they continue to get mixed research/teaching jobs.
If the rhetoric of the university continues to value itself and define itself by the quality of its research then it denigrates what I consider to be its most valuable resource.
Just to clarify, I did just say that teaching is more important than research. Wouldn’t want you to think I was skirting around it…
The other thing I should clarify, I work in a department that gives primary focus to teaching, despite the fact that the rhetoric of the same university seems to be directed primairily toward research.
For some other thoughts of a similar vein check out this.