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Teaching clinical neurology
  1. Chris Allen
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chris Allen, Neurology Department, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK; cmca100{at}cam.ac.uk

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‘No bubble is so iridescent or floats longer than that blown by the successful teacher’

‘The successful teacher is no longer on a height, pumping knowledge at high pressure into passive receptacles…he is a senior student anxious to help his juniors’

Sir William Osler (1849–1919)

‘Neurophobia’ has been a subject of interest over the years since Jozefowicz coined the term in 1994.1 Neurophobia is at least partly caused by inadequate neurology teaching, teaching that may be inadequate in quantity and/or quality.2 To improve the quantity of neurology education neurologists must get involved in the organisation of curricula in their medical school, as some have done.3 To improve the quality of their teaching neurologists need to reflect upon what makes a good teacher and/or what makes a bad teacher.4 5 We can learn something from the work of medical education specialists who try to understand the processes by which students learn.6 7 However, we should use this educational theory like a condiment, appropriately but sparingly.

Changes in clinical practice (fewer and fewer neurology inpatients, more and more outpatients with less and less disease) are producing pressures on clinical teaching, which has always had to compete with working clinicians' other tasks. However neurologists (and their managers) should recall that originally the word ‘doctor’ meant ‘teacher’ and therefore teaching is part of the core duties of a clinician. To teach well is good doctoring and teaching clinical neurology well will allow neurophobia to become a thing of the past.

What makes a good clinical teacher?

A clinical teacher's main job is to equip students with an enthusiasm to learn neurology. Clinical teaching is not about the passive of transfer of knowledge from teacher to student. Good teachers inspire, entertain and support their students in their learning. The word ‘educate’ (from Latin ‘e’ + ‘ducere’, to lead out), like …

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