Educating Health Professionals: Becoming a University by Stephen Loftus PhD, Tania Gerzina PhD (auth.), Stephen

By Stephen Loftus PhD, Tania Gerzina PhD (auth.), Stephen Loftus, Tania Gerzina, Joy Higgs, Megan Smith, Elaine Duffy (eds.)

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For example, in the health professions, teachers who are also practitioners provide a unique dimension with their experiential understanding of professional practice. The value to students is that their teacher’s experiential understanding is important in supporting students to develop their own notions of the realities of professional 25 GERZINA AND FOSTER practice from an “insider” perspective. In other words, teachers can convey the realities of the profession to students and the meaning of professionalism.

Several authors have addressed this question in the context of higher education. A common conclusion is that teachers need to possess a range of skills, attitudes, knowledge and values in both discipline-specific and pedagogical areas. Discipline-specific knowledge is essential knowledge, described by Ramsden (1999, p. 25) as involving an understanding of the main issues in a subject, an appreciation of the nature of appropriate arguments in it, an awareness of what counts as relevant evidence, and the wisdom to think critically and admit one’s deficiencies in knowledge.

Discipline-specific knowledge is also constrained by complex institutional requirements and the demands of accreditation bodies that validate and certify courses. This means that professional practitioners who are also teachers must carefully integrate their experiential practice knowledge and skills with the knowledge and competencies that are formally stated within the curriculum. It is now clear that discipline-specific experiential knowledge is essential but not sufficient to become an effective teacher.

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