Medical students are generally aware of the medical responsibilities that await than on qualification, but perhaps are not as aware of the inherent teaching responsibilities that will form an integral part of their professional duties. This is no different in psychiatry, and it is commonplace to expect psychiatric trainees to take responsibility for teaching medical students on attachments, despite having received minimal training in effective teaching methods.
Although I agree with the recommendation of Dinniss et al (Psychiatric Bulletin, March 2007, 31, ) that an MSc in Clinical Education is a worthwhile qualification for consultant psychiatrists, I would argue that junior trainees in psychiatry should also be strongly encouraged to enhance their clinical teaching skills, as some trainees deliver as much teaching to medical students as their consultant colleagues.
The time constraints of combining an MSc with professional examinations could be avoided by undertaking a more manageable course such as the 1-year Higher Diploma in Clinical Teaching which is currently being offered by our Department of General Practice. This focuses on clinical teaching skills of explanation, effective questioning, delivering feedback, bedside teaching techniques student assessment and evaluation of teaching. Given the effect that undergraduate psychiatry teaching may have on subsequent career choice (Brockington & Mumford, 2002), it could be argued that improving the teaching skills of our trainees will pay dividends for recruitment into psychiatry.