CanMEDS Scholar
Residents are Teachers

Residents as Teachers



Residents participate in the formal and informal education of other residents and medical students. Formally, residents often present rounds and give impromptu teaching sessions. Informally, residents are role models for other residents and medical students.

To teach is to learn... Residents may be hesitant to teach, thinking they must be experts before even thinking of teaching others. The benefit of teaching something is that you learn the topic at a much deeper level. Successful teachers often have something more than expertise, such as enthusiasm and approachability.





Types of Teaching in the clinical environment:

Bedside teaching

Bedside teaching strategies include:

  1. Before the interaction - Prepare, plan

  2. During the interaction -  Introduce, interact, observe, instruct, summarize

  3. After the interactions - Debrief, feedback, reflect

Case based teaching

Case based teaching usually refers to discussion. Often the learner will present a case, and the teacher will point out relevant features and teaching points. It is up to the teacher to find these teaching points and there are usually many. It is helpful during a case discussion to jot down these teaching points to create a list of ’take-home messages’. Case based teaching is effective because the case usually sticks in the learner’s mind, so the learning points might just stick too.

Topic based teaching

Residents are often asked to give presentations or short reports. These always improve with practice. Not everyone is cut out for public speaking, but there are lots of resources, including teachers that you have heard speak, who can give tips. Mentors can also listen to your presentation beforehand and give you tips. It is hard sometimes to receive feedback on your speaking, or watch yourself on video, but these things lead to improvement in teaching just like any other skill.

Role modeling 

Residents are role models. Often in CARMS interviews, candidates will state they worked with a resident who influenced them and their specialty choice. Students and other residents are constantly watching you, and consciously or unconsciously they will pick up some of your behaviours. Both positive and negative behaviours can be perpetuated because of this, so don’t underestimate your influence.


Role modeling can be intentional. You can actually articulate what it is you want to demonstrate by pointing it out to the learner.


Is there something you would like every learner to know?


Do you have an agenda?


You can leave your mark by role modeling behaviour that you want to see carried on.

See Teaching Activity



Do you receive bedside teaching?

What are some of the barriers to this?

How could these be overcome?


Can you think of a recent case or scenario that brought a teaching point to light?

Describe the case and the teaching point.


When was the last time you gave a formal presentation?

How did you feel about this and what kind of feedback did you get?

Would you like to do more?


What quality or behaviour would you like to role model?

What will be your footprint or legacy?