Registrars teaching undergraduate medical students: A pilot study at the University of Pretoria, South Africa

L du Toit-Prinsloo, N K Morris, M Lee, G Pickworth


Background. Registrars play a vital role in teaching undergraduate (UG) medical students. Previous studies indicate that registrars contribute as much as 30% of medical students’ knowledge and that up to 20% of a registrar’s time is spent on teaching UG medical students. The Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) Guide No. 20 defines 12 roles of a teacher, including an on-the-job role-model.
Objective. To evaluate the perception and attitudes of registrars with regard to their role as teachers of UG medical students.
Methods. A questionnaire-based study with qualitative and quantitative aspects was conducted at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria,
South Africa.
Results. Despite numerous attempts, the response rate to the study was very poor, with only 25 registrars participating. This pilot study indicated that
registrars were mostly involved with on-the-job training, followed by ward rounds and practical sessions. The attitudes towards teaching included that registrars deemed teaching as beneficial, with only three indicating that it should not be done by registrars. Advantages of teaching included own learning opportunities and gaining confidence in teaching. Registrars’ own workload and lack of time hampered teaching. The majority of registrars indicated that receiving training with regard to teaching would be useful.
Conclusion. Our pilot study concurs with international studies, indicating that the benefits of teaching medical students include knowledge acquired by registrars. Studies showed that the knowledge obtained in this manner outweighed that obtained by self-study/attendance of lectures. The on-the-job role-model as part of teaching is applicable to registrars. The international literature indicates that until recently registrars were not offered a formal teaching programme. Our study echoed this, with only one student indicating that it is not necessary, as registrars should not be expected to teach.

Authors' affiliations

L du Toit-Prinsloo, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria

N K Morris, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria

M Lee, Department of Library Services, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria

G Pickworth, Department of Education Innovation, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria

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Internship and residency; Education, medical; Education, medical, graduate; Education, medical, undergraduate; Clinical competence; Teaching; Learning

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2016;8(2):196 - 199. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2016.v8i2.660

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-06-28
Date published: 2016-09-06

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