Tagging Your Teachable Moment

Teaching That Counts: Tagging Your Teachable Moment

In Education & Quality Improvement, Featured, Infographics by Krista DowhosLeave a Comment

This is part of the CanadiEM Teaching That Counts Infographic Series, where we take the current research and evidence on how to teach well in the emergency department, and distill it down into bite-sized chunks that are rapidly digestible and memorable.

You teach all the time, right? But how much of what you teach does the learner actually take home and how much will they remember the next time you work with them? Learners are inundated with information each shift, and it can be hard for them to distill it all down into “take home points”. It can also be hard for them to recognize what the most important teaching point is to take from the discussions you have together on shift. Here, we present a quick and simple tool called “tagging” your teachable moment to help your learner remember what you teach them, and it takes no time at all!

Step 1: Recognize the Teachable Moment

The first step is recognizing a teachable moment when it arises. These moments will often arise organically after listening to the learner’s case presentation and differential diagnosis (see Teaching That Counts: The One Minute Preceptor Model). If you’re struggling to find one, directly observing the learner with a patient can reveal a learning gap that inspires a teachable moment. With senior learners whose learning gaps might be less apparent, try asking them “what if” questions (e.g. what if this patient pregnant, how would that affect your choice of antibiotic?) to uncover a teachable moment.

Step 2: Tag the Teachable Moment

The second step is tagging your teachable moment. Essentially, you’re letting the learner know that you are about to give them an educational pearl. This will ensure that the learning point doesn’t get lost in the details and will make it more likely to stick. Be sure to choose only one take-home point from the teachable moment that you want them to remember. Make it general and make it concise​1​. For example, an educational pearl might be, “a chest x-ray can often be normal early in the course of pneumonia”. To tag the educational pearl, simply preface the pearl with “the teaching point is…” To further reinforce the concept, try writing it down on a post-it note. This will force you to keep it concise, and allow the learner to review it later (see CoreEM’s Article on “Post It Pearls”)​2​.

Try this simple trick on your next shift with a learner so you can take what you teach, and make it count!

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  1. 1.
    Green GM, Chen EH. Top 10 ideas to improve your bedside teaching in a busy emergency department. Emerg Med J. September 2014:76-77. doi:10.1136/emermed-2014-204211
  2. 2.
    Swaminathan A. “Post It Pearls.” CoreEM.Net. https://coreem.net/blog/post-it-pearls/post-it-pearls-10-0/. Published August 2017. Accessed September 2019.

Krista Dowhos

Krista is a 2nd year Family Medicine resident at McMaster's Kitchener-Waterloo distributed campus. She was born and raised in Thunder Bay, where she completed her undergraduate medical training. She is passionate about all things FOAMEd, especially the production of infographics for knowledge translation in Emergency Medicine.
Alvin is currently a PGY5 in the FRCP EM program at McMaster University. He serves as Director of Design for CanadiEM and has interests in knowledge translation and health innovation.