The Eight Roles of The Medical Teacher – The Purpose and Functions of a Teacher in The Healthcare Professions by Ronald M. Harden & Pat Lilley

Reviewed by
Dr. Vasanthi Vidyasagaran *

Senior Consultant, Department of Anaesthesiology, Kauvery Hospitals, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

*Correspondence: Email:

Review Essay

Thank you for this opportunity to read and review the book titled ‘The Eight Roles of the Medical Teacher – The purpose and functions of a teacher in the healthcare professions.

Teaching has always played a central role in medical education, and with the transition to Competency-Based Medical Education, the presented framework may be particularly timely for the Indian context, as it can serve as a basis for newly adapted programs of faculty development and teacher assessment.

The authors of this work are themselves pioneers in medical education, so to read their descriptions and reflections on the different roles of a medical teacher is both useful and important.

A key point they make, which I would like to highlight in my review, is that competence in medical teaching, just like competence in our professional medical practice, can be learned and developed and can help to achieve a high level of quality and job satisfaction.

In the first chapter, the authors highlight how the medical teacher or trainer, and their specific attributes and qualities, are critical to the success of a learner.

From the second chapter onward, they present an overview of the eight roles, and then go on to describe each of the roles in greater detail in the subsequent chapters.

Finally, in chapter 11, they discuss the spectrum of roles and the varying extent to which they might apply to different teaching activities such as curriculum planning, development of learning resources, delivering lectures, small group discussions, clinical teaching, examination, and providing feedback to students.

Every chapter has the same structure, which is very helpful to follow as a reader.

However, while the content is well researched, it is difficult to engage with in parts. So, I found it particularly useful to be provided with a summary of the key take-home messages, and the suggestions for consideration and reflection, at the end of each chapter.

In my opinion, the framework suggested in this book is well thought-through. It has been developed and refined from an earlier model (‘the roles of the teacher model’), which has been widely adopted by teachers and institutions working in medical education.

Unlike the previous model, this updated framework gives due consideration to the responsibilities of a teacher as a leader, scholar and a researcher, which is a plus.

However, I believe there is much room to make the text more relevant to readers from across diverse contexts, in particular through the inclusion of more case studies and examples from across different countries and geographical regions.