What makes a competent clinical teacher?


  • Stephen Wealthall
  • Marcus Henning




Competence, clinical teacher, delphi


Background: Clinical teaching competency is a professional necessity ensuring that clinicians’ knowledge, skills and attitudes are effectively transmitted from experts to novices. The aim of this paper is to consider how clinical skills are transmitted from a historical and reflective perspective and to link these ideas with student and teacher perceptions of competence in clinical teaching.

Methods: The reflections are informed by a Delphi process and professional development survey designed to capture students’ and clinicians’ ideas about the attributes of a competent clinical teacher. In addition, the survey process obtained information on the importance and ‘teachability’ of these characteristics.

Results: Four key characteristics of the competent teacher emerged from the Delphi process: clinically competent, efficient organiser, group communicator and person–centred. In a subsequent survey, students were found to be more optimistic about the ‘teachability’ of these characteristics than clinicians and scored the attribute of person-centredness higher than clinicians. Clinicians, on the other hand, ascribed higher levels of importance to clinical competency, efficient organisation and group communication than students.

Conclusions: The Delphi process created a non-threatening system for gathering student and clinician expectations of teachers and created a foundation for developing methods for evaluating clinical competency. This provided insights into differences between teachers’ and students’ expectations, their importance, and professional development.


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How to Cite

Wealthall S, Henning M. What makes a competent clinical teacher?. Can. Med. Ed. J [Internet]. 2012 Sep. 30 [cited 2024 Jun. 19];3(2):e141-e145. Available from: https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cmej/article/view/36591



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