Irritating problems in medical education

This is a bird’s eye view of the most irritating problems in my opinion.  There are certainly much bigger and important issues, but these just get me down!

They are nothing new, but the more they are mentioned, the better.  My biggest peeve?  The use of PowerPoint® or other presentations.

Now, I have nothing against PowerPoint® or Keynote®, or Prezi®, or any of these presentation tools. They are all fantastic pieces of modern software and serve a definite purpose. What really gets me down, though, is how they continue to be the standard tools of medical education.

You know the deal: Clinical educator meets students in locale and time. Students whip out paper and pencil and feverishly try and make notes, whilst also keeping an eye on that social media icon on their phones; the educator standing up front, the proud owner of 36 text-packed slides.  Now, I’m not even going to mention the relevance of the content.  That’s a post for another day.

Listen up: it is not the pinnacle of teaching when your PowerPoint® slides have transitions in them.  Delivering it, even with aplomb, and walking off, is not a measure of good education. We all know by now that students’ memory of facts given during presentations rapidly decline with time. I am sure that the only slightly long-term memorized fact that students get from us when they attend a presentation-style lecture, is what we look and sound like.

As if that isn’t bad enough, what happens next to these poor students always astonishes me. We sit back in an exam and play judge, jury, and executioner regarding their knowledge.

Where is our duty between pitching up with our presentation slides and that exam? When did we bother to find out if they really knew what was going on?  In-between slides?

Saddest part?  We know how to do better.  The literature is rich in research. Read up.

Long live PowerPoint®!