By Dr Zheng Zhongxi,
Anaesthesiology Senior Resident, SingHealth
Chief Resident, Singapore Chief Residency Programme

“It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever," he said. "Have you thought of going into teaching?”
― Terry Pratchett, Mort

  • Role of the resident educator has evolved
  • SingHealth Student Internship Program Bootcamp formed to groom resident educators
  • SingHealth Residents no strangers to teaching and pedagogy

Until recently, being a medical educator meant one of two things.   A) You were an inspiring clinical professor with as many years of practice as the number of students queuing at your office hoping to get a tutorial with you. Or   B) You were past your prime and now, armed with years of carefully gleaned experience, am ready to teach.

In this era where medical education is rapidly transforming and we move away from the old adage of “See one, do one, teach one”, what then is the role of the resident educator? For one who lacks both wisdom and age, why teach?

Peter Drucker – management consultant, author and educator, says it best, “No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.”

My introduction to medical education was borne out of necessity. As anaesthetists, we are uniquely poised to have intimate one-on- one conversations with our attached students; discussions about personal lives can only go so far, and many of us find it much more productive to teach.

As fellow educators would attest, teaching something forces one to inspect and dissect the matter at hand, to gain a far greater depth of understanding of what you once thought you knew.

I wanted to effect change through teaching. Being interested in patient safety while assisting in my department’s Critical Incident Sessions, I began to explore resident education as one of the possible solutions to prevention of critical and sentinel events.

This culminated in the SingHealth Student Internship Program bootcamp we organised as part of the SingHealth Residents’ Committee.

While effecting a change through teaching was our goal, we now know it takes much more study to conclude and measure this outcome. More importantly however, this bootcamp opened the door for many resident educators to the world of pedagogy.

This aspect of faculty development is also strongly supported by various programs like RaFT (Residents as Future Teachers) and the Chief Residency Program.

To teach and educate is also to influence and lead. These days, it is not uncommon to hear comments of junior residents being of the strawberry generation. Perhaps it is through our own actions, or inaction, that this impression arose, and if so should we not take some responsibility and an interest?

Inspired by our mentor in the Singapore Chief Residency Program (SCRP) Prof Arpana Vidyarthi, I now actively seek teaching opportunities by the bedside during clinical work. These bite- sized sessions allow me to influence my juniors and students far more than didactic sessions can, and I believe, ultimately enable us to shape future medical generations to come.

 “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
― Aristotle