Picture this: You see patients with students or trainees in clinics or on hospital rounds every day. During these encounters, you teach them, and you learn from them. Then you attend daily (or weekly, or monthly or biweekly) morning reports, grand rounds, didactics, journal clubs, radiology meetings, case discussions, mortality morbidity meetings, etc. You literally have nonstop, ongoing updating of medical knowledge. You have protected time for teaching and to attend teaching activities.
Compare this to working in a nonteaching setting: You see patients every day in clinics or on hospital rounds. You may attend a grand round (as available and per time availability). You can attend a national annual meeting, and by doing this you will certainly boost your medical knowledge.
This is not to say that academic doctors are more important than non-academic doctors. Nor is this to say that nonacademic doctors are less credentialed or qualified to practice medicine. It goes without saying that regulations in medical licensing and board examination, around the world, guarantee that all doctors stay up-to-date to be able to continue to practice medicine.
And obviously, not all doctors are interested in teaching or academia. Certainly, there are other issues, especially the issue of income and the issue of favoring self-employment and autonomy vs. employment by institutions with all the regulations and bureaucratic hassles.
In my case, it was difficult to stay well up-to-date outside of academia. It became so hard to study from textbooks or journal articles when I would work all day seeing patients in clinic, and do the hospital rounds before or after clinics. I would go home late in the day, extremely exhausted; then there is my wife and the kids and the family obligations. After the first few years in private practice, I felt like I lost about 50% of medical knowledge.
Today, March 21, is a special day for me. When I was student in Jordan, Teacher’s Day was celebrated on March 21. Nowadays, the celebration is held in October. As I explained in a prior post, the change in the timing of the annual celebration was adopted after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared Oct. 5 as “World Teacher’s Day” in 1995.
On this occasion of the original date, I wish to salute all doctor-teachers.
The “doctor-teacher” status is used herein to refer to medical doctors who choose the academic career path. There is no doubt that all medical doctors are considered teachers: teachers to their patients, as well as to other health care coworkers.