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In order to help students accomplish the goals of our mission faster and more completely, we have established the Master Clinical Teachers (MCTs) program to provide individualized attention to students’ clinical skills. MCTs are experienced clinicians who set aside a significant portion of their time just to teach students. MCTs meet with students individually and in pairs at the patient’s bedside to provide customized learning as well as formative assessment about how students are progressing along their professional journey.  These meetings occur about every two weeks during the second year of medical school.  They are designed to be “Show me what you can do on your own” sessions.

The MCT directly observes the student perform a history and physical examination, provides direct bedside feedback, discusses assessment, differential diagnosis, and diagnostic plans.  Emphasis is placed on watching to what extent the student can perform independently and on providing direct, at-the-bedside feedback to the student regarding clinical skills.


Michael Fowler, M.D., is the director of Clinical Skills Development for Undergraduate Medical Education. He oversees the MCT program. He is also an associate professor of medicine; director of Vanderbilt Diabetes Outreach; the course director for Physical Diagnosis and co-director of the student-run Shade Tree Clinic.

Students may contact Dr. Fowler to request a meeting to discuss any thoughts or concerns about the MCT program, or to schedule an additional practice session. If you wish to schedule a practice session, please include a description of what you wish to practice.


  • Compared to historical training, medical students receive less “hands-on” training now compared to past decades
  • Direct observation and bedside teaching is part of all medical schools’ accreditation
  • Today’s accelerated clinical environment also threatens traditional opportunities for bedside teaching
  • Trends identified nationally in Graduate Medical Education suggest that arriving interns are not ready for semi-supervised clinical practice
  • Modern patient safety practices rely upon individuals’ seeking feedback about their clinical performance and commitment to continual improvement processes
  • The MCT Program addresses all these problems directly by providing personalized teaching sessions with our very finest medical educators at the patients’ bedside

MCT Process

  • MCT sessions are discipline-specific–There are MCTs dedicated to each required clerkship
  • MCT sessions provide a snapshot assessments of clinical skills related to VC3 and clerkship-specific diagnoses
  • Each student undergoes direct observation of history and physical examination skills at the bedside by MCTs during clerkships.  Number of sessions:
    • Psychiatry: 2; Neurology: 1; Pediatric Medicine:  3; Obstetrics/Gynecology: 3; Internal Medicine: 4; Surgical Medicine: 4
    • Sessions are scheduled by clerkship coordinators
  • Students receive Immediate feedback from MCTs about what they did well and what they could do better next time
  • Information about student performance is entered into the student’s individual Portfolio and performance is tracked over the student’s medical school career.
  • Students performance is analyzed over time by advisors and by the students themselves, allowing self-improvement as well as mentor-directed improvements in performance