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Neher: Teach General Rules

Through the first two steps, you have ascertained a learning gap around which you have something to teach - the teachable moment. Resist the temptation to teach everything you know about this topic; stick to a general rule that meets the learner's need. "Let's focus on what you identified as the issue here. When X happens, the literature suggests you should do Y." This model supports:

  • Critical thinking
  • Targeted exchange of information
  • Greater interest in the material
  • Greater motivation to learn

Teaching Tips 

  • Be clear and organized (e.g., "Based on your problem list, let's focus on...")
  • Create a comfortable (positive) learning environment, whether in a patient's room, the hall, or a more private area. 
  • Demonstrate your own commitment to the learning process with thoughtful, directed comments


  • The level of teaching is defined by the learner's need
  • The content of material is defined by the teachable moment
  • You can select the focus based on your strengths

Teaching Hints...

  • Do not try to accomplish too much in a single teaching encounter - one targeted key point is ok.
  • Be satisfied with small teaching achievements.

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The Five-Step Microskills of Clinical Teaching

Neher J, Stevens, N G (2003). The one-minute preceptor: Shaping the teaching conversation. Family Medicine, 36 (6); 391-393.