Description: This book attempts to cover every aspect of medical teaching skills outside of the clinical and inpatient areas.
Purpose: One stated purpose is to help novice and experienced medical educators become more effective educators. Another is to provide a tool for all those who undertake the task of helping other clinicians hone their skills through medical education by applying the principles of communication science. In reality, the book seems to focus on every conceivable aspect of presentation skills using supportive materials (charts, graphs, programs) from the field of neuroscience.
Audience: The book will be somewhat helpful to the first group of novice and experienced medical educators and less helpful for the second group, those involved with faculty development and education.
Features: The book applies principles of adult education to presentations, examines the characteristics of all audiences, and discusses how to measure outcomes. The final chapter introduces interval learning and the Master Psychopharmacology Program. Features include an abundance of illustrations, a progress check examination, and performance self-assessments after each chapter. Whenever a noted researcher is mentioned, there is a "biobox" with a brief description of the person and accomplishments. One shortcoming lies in the many pre-1990 references (some as far back as the 1930s and 1940s). More recent research could be referenced. Another shortcoming is that all the example materials (charts, graphs, tables) are heavily focused on psychopharmacology. There are so many of these examples that they detract from the true purpose of having examples.
Assessment: The title is a misrepresentation of the book's content. Best Practices in Medical Education calls to mind teaching in the clinical and inpatient arenas as well as the traditional classroom, but the book's focus is on presentation skills. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, Reynolds (New Riders Press, 2008) is a much better source for improving presentation skills. How to Teach: A Handbook for Clinicians, Dobson et al. (Oxford University Press, 2011) is a much better source for clinicians who want to improve their teaching skills. Educators involved with faculty development would be better served using Understanding Medical Education: Evidence, Theory, and Practice, Swanwick (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). The authors of Best Practices use the kitchen sink approach to cover all the possible angles related to designing medical presentations. The overabundance of psychopharmacological examples creates white noise for readers.