Objectives: In recent years, there has been a decline in estimated time spent on bedside teaching. The aim of this study was to evaluate clinical teachers' perceptions and practice of, and approaches to, bedside teaching. Methods: The study site was Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, UK. A self-administered questionnaire was developed and piloted on full-time clinical academic university staff. Responses were solicited to 36 questions relating to teaching experience, familiarity with the 12 learning outcomes of Dundee Medical School's curriculum, and perception and practice of basic bedside etiquette. For each of these items, a comparison between consultants and specialist registrars (SPRs) was carried out. Results: Out of the 64 clinical teachers approached, 45 (70%) participated in the study: 26 of them (57.7%) were consultants and 19 (42.3%) SPRs. A total of 17 (65%) of the consultants had been trained to teach medical students at the bedside, while only 9 SPRs (47%) had had similar training. In addition, 13 consultants (50%) reported being familiar with Dundee Medical School's 12 learning outcomes, while only 7 (36%) SPRs were familiar with it. Obstacles reported by consultants and SPRs were groups of over 6 students (65% versus 61%, respectively), a limited number of patients with good clinical signs (67% versus 63%, respectively), a shorter length of stay in hospital (73% versus 68%, respectively), lack of privacy in crowded wards (76% versus 73%, respectively), and interruptions from telephones and visitors (57% versus 64%, respectively). Conclusion: Effective clinical teacher training and a thorough understanding of curriculum outcomes are crucial to successful bedside clinical teaching. Identifying obstacles to bedside clinical teaching will contribute to a more effective and efficient programme.
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