Article Title

‘Difficult Teaching Case’ Conference Call Series — A Faculty Development Strategy


Background: Teaching requires a unique knowledge and skill set, from competency-based assessment to digital fluency and teaching of interprofessional teams. However, barriers to faculty development such as lack of time to prepare, incentives, and isolation/lack of support for one’s identity as a clinician teacher are well enumerated, as are the elements of successful programs.

Purpose: To implement an ongoing faculty development case conference call series that expands participants’ teaching strategies, increases their confidence as educators, and strengthens their connections to other teachers.

Methods: Case discussion is signature pedagogy in medical education as it makes the reasoning underlying one’s decisions as a clinician or teacher visible and promotes deeper learning. Using a teaching-focused case methodology, we implemented a monthly 45-minute teaching case conference call series. Participants receive a one-screen email precis of the case 1–2 days in advance and then dial into a conference call. The case is sequentially reviewed with conference participants asking questions/explaining how they may frame the “assessment” and “plan.” The conference ends with key teaching pearls/take-home points, with follow-up readings/resources distributed postconference and a brief evaluation.

Results: Cases have ranged from clinical teaching (a learner who “never got feedback”) and small-group teaching (a learner who was offended by a teacher’s analogy), to unprofessionalism (disruptive/argumentative learners), to teaching the “rock star” residents. Average number of participants was 7, with an upper limit of 11; 18 different physicians and 8 different nurse practitioners have attended at least 1 of the 10 sessions. Evaluations reveal that all participants agree that the case scenario was relevant/ important, expanded teaching strategies, and connected them to others who value teaching. Typical comments include “these sessions are extremely valuable and will improve our learning culture…” and “it’s a relief that I’m not the only one to have had this happen….”

Conclusion: Clinical teachers highly value the difficult teaching case conference call series. The approach is easily transferable to other organizations, requiring no advance participant preparation, and uses telephone access to offer a “safe” place to explore and learn from colleagues’ difficult teaching situations and affirm their roles and value as teachers.