UMEM Educational Pearls

Questioning Learners in the ED-Wait Times

When teaching medical students and residents, consider that the literature shows that we tend to wait only a few seconds (some studies say 3 seconds-which seems like a long time when you are waiting for a response) for a response. Bottom line, it has been demonstrated that many learners have the answer and will respond if simply given the time. Hard to do sometimes in a busy ED. Learners who aren't given time to respond will quickly learn that if they simply wait long enough the answers will be given to them.

So, when asking a question (NOT pimping) to a medical student or resident, simply wait a little longer. They may very well surprise you with the answer.


Whitman NA, Schwenk TL. Preceptors as Teachers.