UMEM Educational Pearls

The One Minute Preceptor-Microskills in Teaching

Most clinical teaching takes place in the context of busy clinical practice where time is at a premium. Microskills enable teachers to effectively assess, instruct, and give feedback more efficiently. This model is used when the teacher knows something about the case that the learner needs or wants to know.

Most of already do this on a daily basis when a learner (student or resident) presents a case to us.


    • Get a commitment (Make them commit to a diagnosis and/or management strategy)
    • Probe for supporting evidence (why do they think this patient with CP has an MI?)
    • Teach general rules
    • Reinforce what was right
    • Correct mistakes

One of the biggest pitfalls in teaching, particularly to medical students, is the first skill, getting a commitment. Let (i.e. make) the student commit to a diagnosis and treatment plan and avoid spoonfeeding them.


1. Irby, D.M., How Attending Physicians Make Instructional Decisions when Conducting Teaching Rounds. Academic Medicine, 1992. 67: p. 630-638.

2. Irby, D.M., Three Exemplary Models of Case-based Teaching. Academic Medicine, 1994. 69(12): p. 947-953.

3. Irby, D.M. What Clinical Teachers in Medicine Need to Know. Academic Medicine, 1994. 69(5): p. 333-342.

4. Neher, JO, Gordon, KC, Meyer, B, and Stevens, N. A Five-step "Microskills" Model of Clinical Teaching. Journal of the American Board of Family Practice. 5:419-424, 1992.