“In seeking wisdom, the first step is silence, the second listening, the third remembering, the fourth practicing, the fifth -- teaching others.” -Ibn Gabirol, poet and philosopher (c. 1022-1058)
The art of medicine has long been passed from practitioner to student throughout the ages, and even instilled in the Hippocratic oath. The strong held belief of 'see one, do one, teach one' has been tried and tested to learn, remember and refine our knowledge and skills as we progress through our careers. These are the same principles utilised by peer-2-peer.
Peer-2-peer (or p2p) is the mentoring and tutoring initiative started formally in 2008 with great success. It involves a pair of senior tutors (year 4-6) attached to a group of 6-8 junior students (years 1 and 2) and together you can discuss tricky concepts, approach to symptoms and diseases, examinations and generally anything to do with medicine.
While the benefit to junior students is obvious, the chance to revise, learn, teach and hone skills for the senior students is equally as beneficial.
There are responsibilities for both the junior student and the tutor in peer-2-peer and these are worth considering before getting involved.
Responsibilities of the junior student
To communicate effectively with your tutor. Help your tutor organise times, let them know if you cannot attend for a particular session. Peer-2-peer is not compulsory at any point and if you feel confident enough to study independently of peer-2-peer then let your tutor know. Peer-2-peer should continue as long as both tutor and student are benefiting from it and if you want to leave the group, do so politely.
Send questions or discussion topics to your tutors in advance and send through CBL notes / timetables for convenience. It is easier and more effective if your tutors have time to think about your case before the session.
Session times in peer-2-peer can often change and it will be your responsibility to help ensure that other students in your group know about the changes. Tutors will send out emails however students can spread the word easily during lectures etc.
Do not expect too much of your tutors. The senior students are not consultants and although they will not know everything, they will be able to improve your knowledge and study habits in many ways.
Responsibilities of the tutor
Peer-2-peer is a significant time commitment. Time is required for: organising session times, doing the sessions and preparing which usually requires at least 1-2 hrs work. Going into peer-2-peer 'cold' without revising the material is not advised. Due to time commitment, peer-2-peer is recommended mostly for year 4 and year 6 students.
Cover material that is likely to help for exams and carefully consider what are essential concepts in a case.
Follow-up problems that were unresolved in a session, sometimes by producing written answers.
You might choose to make yourself available during pre-clinical examinations for answering questions by email.
Be contactable and inform the students if you cannot make it on certain weeks. Choose session times that follow a lecture so that students do not come in purely for peer-2-peer.
Reassess regularly how peer-2-peer is going and be sensitive to the needs of the students, i.e. how they are getting home if it's late, if you run overtime etc.
Be enthusiastic and make it fun!
NOTE: If tutors choose to run a peer-2-peer tutorial in the Pathology Museum it is essential that a member of the Department of Pathology is notified in advance. The department can then find a suitable location for the tutorial and ensure that Occupational Health and Safety standards are met.
Peer-2-peer is usually a fantastic experience for both tutors and students. For students it is an excellent way to enhance your studies, learn about medical student life and get to know other students. For tutors it is an excellent way to revise and hone your knowledge and get early experience as a teacher.
The following are anonymous written testimonials from students and tutors...
"p2p was something that I looked forward to each week - it was where the physiology/pathology that I learnt over the past week come to life and fit into the clinical picture"
"I think that it is an excellent conduit of learning to supplement the medical school program, the seniors were really helpful in clearing up/filling in the gaps of knowledge that I did not manage to cover in CBL."
"Our peer-2-peer sessions always had an exam focus and this was extremely helpful in passing the exams"
"Other skills that were shared during the sessions included how to search for a certain piece of information that I needed that wasn't in the regular Sherwood and how much depth to go into for a certain topic (something many first years struggle to do - I was no exception)"
"Apart from solely the education side, I think the pastoral care and advice given by the tutors were invaluable."
"We really appreciated the time our tutor gave us. we learnt heaps"
"p2p helped me make some close friends in my own year. It brought us all together and was more relaxed than PBL".
"I loved doing p2p this year"
"p2p is great and teaching is part of the Hippocratic oath, so it's only natural that senior students pass on their knowledge to the juniors"
"I felt that the first years in my group could freely ask questions that were bothering them about their case, and that the atmosphere in p2p was relaxed and friendly"
"I was paired with another senior student that I didn't know and now we're good friends!"
"I thought that I had a lot to offer students not only academically but also for things such as: using the path museum, using library resources and getting the most out of resource"
"Teaching first year students was ideal because there is a large knowledge gap and you can help them develop good study habits as well."
"We have a photo of our p2p group from our last session and I'll never forget it"
- Team p2p