|Tips & Resources for Teaching in a Low Resource Country|
Tips & Resources:
Tips on Teaching in a Low Resource Country (LRC)
LENA DOHLMAN, MD, MPH
Teaching medicine in a Low Resource Country (LRC) can be a daunting experience for a US trained physician due to cultural and language differences and unfamiliar drugs, equipment and diseases. This workshop will attempt to improve the comfort level and effectiveness of volunteers teaching overseas.
The ultimate goal of having US trained anesthesiologists teaching in a Low Resource Country (LRC) is to identify and train local anesthetic personnel who can eventually be self sustaining and responsible for the training of others. There are many factors which make this goal difficult to attain. A lack of economic resources and political commitment can lead to chronic shortages or absence of necessary medications, equipment, electricity and even clean water. The health care infrastructure is often poorly developed and the hospitals under staffed. Many anesthetists have inadequate training for the responsibilities they are given. The wages of the medical staff are low and even physicians are often forced to take a second job in order to support their families. This leads to frustration and many younger physicians leave their home countries for better opportunities. Others feel professionally isolated because of a limited access to educational opportunities and become passive about improving the healthcare system. It is important to keep these conditions in mind as you teach.
Planning ahead: Before you leave for your assignment try to find out as much as you can about the following:
General principles to keep in mind:
Teaching Methods and Techniques:
Techniques: Listed below is a summary of teaching techniques that can be used. The techniques are listed from less active to more active.
The technique chosen will depend on your objectives and the kind of information to be taught, i.e., knowledge, skills, or attitudes. The success of each technique will also depend on the learning styles of your students. In general, students will retain more with the more active teaching techniques. On the other hand, students in Low Resource Counties (LRC) are generally more used to and comfortable with the lecture(passive) technique of teaching. Some have never seen techniques such as “Scenarios” and will need to be taught how to use the technique to learn. Culture and language differences can also get in the way of using some techniques such as group discussion. It’s a good idea for teachers to try several methods to accommodate different learning styles and abilities of the students. Some techniques may be better suited than others to the teacher’s personality and style of teaching.
Knowledge: The most often used method to relay knowledge is the lecture (especially in Low Resource Countries). It can be valuable for providing background information or a foundation of knowledge. Below are some tips for using the lecture successfully:
Reading assignments are also a commonly used method for relaying knowledge. Be aware that students in Low Resource Countries may not have access to textbooks and you may want to bring handouts if you wish to use this method of teaching.
Discussion groups are a good way for students to share knowledge and beliefs and can work well to bring out misunderstandings in knowledge. A common language is necessary. This technique does not work well using a translator. As the teacher, your role should be to:
Skills: In a Low Resource Country anesthetic skills are most often taught one on one in the operating room. Some non-invasive techniques can be demonstrated using models or mannequins. Simulators are still rare in Low Resource Countries.
Attitudes: Changing attitudes can be more difficult than teaching knowledge or skills. One way to do so is to be a role model for change. Learners will tend to copy behavior they admire and respect. By attentively listening, encouraging discussion and giving honest and fair feedback, you model respect.
It is important to promote self-education by providing web addresses and other resources which might be used by students after you leave. You can start this process by assigning students a topic they must research and present to the other students with your help.
Resources: Educational resources which might be useful for teaching in Low Resource Countries will be listed in the references or brought to the workshop.
Cultural differences: Cultural differences can affect your success as a teacher. A few key points to think about during your visit to another country:
The following websites contain variations of multiple emergency checklists. We are working with the Stanford group with a view to adapting these checklists to suit different institutions in different countries.
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