The Practically Wise Medical Teacher: Medical Education at the University of Tromsø – A Norwegian Case

This article addresses the issue of teaching quality in medical education and investigates what characterizes a professionally competent or practically wise medical teacher through the use of longitudinal data from interviews with 40 medical students. In discussing the findings, Aristotle’s concepts of episteme, techne and phronesis, and theoretical perspectives on professionalism and quality in teaching are applied. The findings highlight that one is either a practically wise medical teacher or a technical medical teacher. The practically wise medical teacher typically focuses on reflection, experience, participation, formative assessment and discussion in an atmosphere of good relations, which stimulate teaching and learning. The technical medical teacher, on the contrary, knows very little about the students and treats them as onlookers in clinical settings. The analysis results indicate that being a practically wise medical teacher requires a perception of what characterizes professionalism in medical education, the ability to use formative assessment and role model consciousness. These findings underline the importance of a good supervisor–learner relationship, which promotes medical teachers’ teaching competence and knowledge of professionalism. The findings also indicate the importance of faculty development in order to improve teaching quality at both the individual and system levels.


Sylvi Stenersen Hovdenak, Ida KR Hatlevik, Kristian Bartnes, Inger-Heidi Bjerkli, Stig Norderval and Tone Nordøy

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