Teaching Philosophy

I am an anesthesiologist, medical educator, and researcher. My primary roles as a teacher occur in the operating room as a role-model, as a lecturer, and a simulation instructor. The elements of various adult learning models, theories, and frameworks are apparent in my approach to teaching. In the roles I describe, my educational philosophy is shaped by social learning theory, Knowles’ androgogical assumptions, Grows’ description of self-directed learning, humanism, experiential and behavioristic learning (Merriam 2007, Mann 2011). Adult learning theory, social learning theory, self-directed learning and humanism naturally fit me as a teacher and mimic my own learning style.

In my role as an anesthesiologist at a teaching hospital, my primary role as an educator is that of a role model. As Bandura describes, my students (fellows, residents, and medical students) observe my clinical work, ask questions about decisions I make, and eventually model the behaviors that lead to good patient care (Bandura 1961, Bahn 2001). I am conscious of this and make sure to display behaviors that should be modeled so that proper skills, attitudes, and knowledge are taught.

As a lecturer to adult students, I realize I am using multiple elements of learning theories, models, and frameworks concurrently. To me, Knowles’ assumptions of the motivated adult learner are key (Baumgartner 2006). I make my lectures problem-centered, describe the real-world applicability of the topic, and recognize that my learners will respond better to internal motivators. I strive to get them motivated at the beginning of my lecture by showing the relevance of the material and my past experiences with it. As I critically reflect, I expect a lot from my students. From humanism and ideas of self-directed learning, my students often have quite a load from other classes, personal lives, and other obligations. However, I am always surprised with their level of enthusiasm and intelligence. These young doctors strive to learn for learning’s sake and this is what motivates me the most to improve my androgogical skill set and deliver the best education possible.

I am a simulation instructor for a variety of courses spanning different medical disciplines and learner populations. The experiential and behavioral components to simulation-based education are very relevant. My students are placed in constructed environments for the sake of teaching specific lessons. The environments are relevant to their daily clinical practice. I rely heavily on peer-to-peer teaching during the educational debriefing sessions following simulation activities. I view myself as a facilitator and steer the discussion to accomplish specific objectives. Grow’s stages of self-directed learning are very important as there are times when my students are dependent learners and require me to coach more (Grow 1991). The transition between stages occurs seamlessly, but knowing them, makes planning successful debriefings easier.

I feel very privileged to be a medical educator and researcher. My research aims to identify effective and efficient ways to educate medical professionals and its impact on clinical care. While I have outlined my educational philosophy, I continue to learn more through research and continued education that shapes my beliefs. The additional knowledge improves my ability to design, study, and implement curricula for my students.  I am excited to challenge and push myself to experiment and expand my current repertoire.


Merriam, S.B, Caffarella RS, Baumgartner LM. Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide. San Francisco, Ca: Jossey-Bass, 2007. Chapter 11, Traditional Learning Theories, pp 275-297.

Mann KV. Theoretical perspectives in medical education: past experience and future possibilities. Med Educ 2011;45:60-68.

Bandura A, Ross D, Ross S. Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1961;63: 575-82.

Bahn D. Social learning theory: its application in the context of nurse education. Nurse Ed Today 2001;21:217-20.

Baumgartner, L.M., Caffarella, R.S., & Merriam, S.B. (2006). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. (3rd Ed.) San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Chapters 4 and 12.

Grow GO. Teaching learners to be self-directed. Adult Educ Quarterly 1991;41(3):125-149.