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Educating beginning practitioners
  1. STEWART PETERSEN, Professor
  1. Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK

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    Educating beginning practitioners, Joy Higgs, Helen Edwards, eds. pp 303. Butterworth Heineman, 1999. £27.50, paperback. 0 7506 3773 0 ***

    Lecturers in training are told always to repeat key ideas several times so they stick in the minds of students. This book subscribes wholeheartedly to this maxim. Written by a group of largely Australian educationalists, every chapter repeats a mantra about preparing practitioners for lifelong learning in the ever-changing health environments of the future. There are, almost incidentally, many useful suggestions of how to do this, but the difficulty is extracting them from the jungle of sociological and educational jargon.

    Packed as it with references, this will be a useful text for medical educationalists, and does go a long way towards meeting its aim of providing an overview of contemporary educational theory and practice. It is difficult to see, however, how the typical clinical teacher will get beyond the first few pages.

    The book begins with a section introducing the notion of the ‘Interactional Professional’, a highly skilled and flexible practitioner fully engaged with a wide range of stakeholders. This is followed by articles on the context of health education, sections on curriculum issues, teaching and learning (interestingly in that order, despite the general tenor of the book), and assessment. These are a good overview of current issues and will be helpful to those planning curricula.

    Overall a useful reference work for those already well versed in things educational, but not a practical manual for the teacher at the bedside. To quote chapter 35: “When health educators seek theoretical insights . . many find phenomenology, phenomenography, constructivism, and post-modernism compatible with their positions.” I can just hear a cynical practitioner: “Don't understand a word, but it sounds mighty impressive!”

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