UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Medical Education

Title: Teaching When Time is Limited

Keywords: Teaching, Medical Education (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/17/2010 by Rob Rogers, MD (Updated: 5/21/2024)
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Teaching When Time is Limited

We all know how difficult it can be to teach in the ED when it is busy. So how do the experts do it when there is so little time?

Just a few considerations that might make your teaching more effective and easier to do when it is busy:

  • Identify the learner's needs. The time-saving rule of thumb: target, then teach. After all, how do you know what to teach if you don't know what the learners knows or needs.
  • Teach rapidly. And I mean rapidly. Many of us have really come to realize over the years that less is better. As Amal says, be a sniper and don't use a shotgun. Teach one thing quickly and move on. Pick a pearl (or pitfall, etc.), lock and load, then deliver it...then STOP teaching. Much more effective than spending 20 minutes talking about stuff nobody will ever remember!
  • Provide some type of feedback. Feedback is one of the most underused yet powerful teaching tools available. 


Irby DM, Wilkerson L. Teaching when time is limited. BMJ 2008