Online synchronous pedagogical quality cercles as a training model for clinical teachers

Arabelle Rieder

Keywords: training in pedagogy, clinical supervisor, quality cercle, internship, medical students, community-based education


Community based education in family medicine/general practice (FM/GP) provides an excellent learning environment for medical students and is recognized as an increasingly important part of undergraduate and postgraduate training curricula. Providing excellent clinical teachers is a challenge in all settings and training is traditionally organized as an interactive workshop program with disappointingly low uptake rates. Faculty developers need to find new and innovative ways to engage their clinical teachers in continuous professional development as supervisors.


Since September 2020, the Geneva University Institute of Family Medicine, Switzerland, organizes monthly pedagogical quality cercles (PQC) of 1 hour and a half for clinical supervisors in the community during the placement of their students in FM/GP. During a lunch-break video conference meeting, clinical supervisors bring forward problems encountered with their student and through a process of experience-sharing, problem-solving and role-playing, the participants find solutions adapted to their teaching context. During the process, the facilitator who is part of the academic faculty development team, brings forward pedagogical tools and knowledge about curriculum requirements as questions arise, thus adapting to the pedagogical needs of the participants.


Over the last 3 years, clinical teachers of final year medical students who are doing a monthly placement in the community have participated regularly in a PQC that is based on practical problems of supervision (professionalism of students, how to give feedback, formative and summative assessment are examples) encountered during clinical placements of medical students. Satisfaction is high among participants and participation rates are between 40 and 50 %.


Through short innovative synchronous training sessions organized for groups of clinical supervisors, clinical teachers in primary care can improve their supervising skills during placements of their students. Clinicians can thus develop a common identity as reflexive teachers which is the basis of a community of practice of clinical teachers.

Points for discussion:

Can PQCs include clinical supervisors of medical students of different levels?

Should PQCs be made compulsory?

Can PQCs help to identify students in difficulty?


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