Friday, December 30, 2011

Generational Differences in Medical Education

I read a phenomenal article on tips to educate “Generation Y”.  It brings up the issue: how does one learn?  What I like about the article is that it focuses not just on traditional learning, but also on approaches to professionalism, communication styles, and feedback methods.  What I also like is that it is non-judgmental, and does not make Generation Y out to be “bad” and earlier generations to be good. 
One focus of Generation Y which I have heard often is that they are “tech-savvy”; thus, educators should incorporate technology into their teaching repertoire.  Remember that this is not just traditional didactic teaching (the article mentions this), but also teaching at the bedside, teaching in small group sessions and other venues.  I have personally tried to do this myself, but have realized that sometimes the content of what needs to be taught/learned is overshadowed by the “cool tech toy”.  Take audience response systems (ARS), for example.  As more and more teachers are using them, the systems become second nature to learners; teachers should not use them just because it looks cool to flash a graph on a screen.  Use an ARS if it helps engage the learner, or reinforce concepts difficult to grasp.
Contrast that idea with this post on the “older generation” being tech-savvy and actually being more likely to integrate technology into their care of patients.   As another example, several medical schools have provided their students with iPads, and have made learning with the use of an iPad part of the curriculum.  The decision to make this leap forward to embrace technology in the educational realm likely came from an “older generation” physician. 
So how do you think medical educators can best help Generation Y learn?  What strategies can best optimize learning for the ultimate goal of improved patient care?  I am particularly interested in what Gen Y folks think.  One parting thought that the focus should be about the learner, and ultimately all about the patient!

28 comments:

  1. I think the most interesting thing to remember about Gen Y learners and beyond (The Net Generations, if you will) is that they crave technology but interestingly they also crave one on one interaction with the teacher. It is an odd dichotomy, but one that people need to remember. We can't just change to all podcasts or self-directed Internet learning.

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  2. Great points. Meeting the needs of the learners is a complex process, and one size definitely does not fit all. Thank you for your thoughts!

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