Teaching: Introduction

Last updated: Sunday, July 02, 2023

NB: See learning outcomes for this tutorial mapped to competencies.

☞ Why this subject matters...

As a trainee or foundation pharmacist you are likely to be involved in the teaching of others. This could be quite a formal planned session such as a giving a lecture in a classroom to a large group of learners, or something more impromptu such as teaching a small group on a ward round. One-to-one teaching is certainly part of every pharmacist's job. Whatever you have to do, it is essential that the teaching is effective. Although this topic focuses on the key steps of delivering a planned session, many of the principles apply to unplanned teaching in the workplace. This is not a detailed review of teaching theory, but more a practical guide if you are starting out. It does not cover assessment methods but does touch on giving feedback.

Getting started 

Your pharmacy education and training lead asks you to teach 8 new trainee pharmacists about the management of diabetes mellitus. Who or what might help you decide what to include in your teaching session?   ➔ Consider, then click for answer.
Some suggestions
A good starting point is to speak to the trainee pharmacists to find out what they know already and where the gaps in their knowledge are. Other people that may be able to help you include your pharmacy education and training lead and your diabetes team. 

If you are faced with delivering some new, planned teaching, one of the first steps is to decide what your learners need to learn. People that can help you include the learners themselves, their tutors and education leads, subject experts and patients. These are sometimes called the ‘stakeholders’.

For learning to be effective, your learners need to be engaged and motivated. One way to achieve this is to actively involve them in developing their own learning outcomes. Before your teaching session, you could contact them to establish what they know already about a particular topic, and where they think the gaps in their knowledge are. Establishing a learner’s baseline knowledge also helps you to pitch your teaching at the right level. Be aware that sometimes what learners think they need to know and what their actual needs are may differ; your other stakeholders, such as their tutors, can help you to prioritise their true training needs. For example, your trainee pharmacists may ask to be taught about new medicines for diabetes mellitus, but their clinical tutors may be more concerned about recent insulin errors in your Trust and want them to master dose calculations. 

Other than consulting with stakeholders, you may also need to check whether there is any relevant guidance or maybe a syllabus on your topic from bodies such as the GPhC, your local Trust or university.

The process of gathering all of this information is called a ‘training needs analysis’.