Background: Most who teach in clinical settings see themselves primarily as clinicians or physicians responsible for patient care and only secondarily as educators. The education literature suggests that teaching predominantly operates at a tacit level, where teachers rely on core beliefs to guide their practice, and actually spend little time in reflective practice. Given the lack of research on how medical educators in clinical settings view their teaching, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the teaching beliefs of faculty in a pediatrics department in a college of medicine. Methods: Using a Teaching Perspectives Inventory, observations and in-depth interviews, a complex picture was revealed about teaching beliefs of medical educators. Results: Due to contextual constraints ofthe clinical setting (e.g., time, competing stakeholders) that requires primary attention to patient care, they describe 'teaching on the fly'. There is a strong emphasis on: Delivering content; encouraging thinking among students; providing questioning and engaging learning experiences; and respecting students as learners. Conclusions: The implications of these beliefs are significant and indicate that faculty can benefit from opportunities that make their beliefs about teaching more conscious, particularly in determining how best to prepare future physicians to teach in clinical settings.
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