“See one, do one, teach one” is a phrase that is believed to have been coined by William Halstead, MD.

Dr. Halstead created the first surgical residency-training program in the United States at John Hopkins. The catch phrase is a simple teaching model, but is it effective? I can teach my nine-year-old daughter how to place an intravenous (IV) catheter into a vein or to give our cat insulin for his diabetes. However, I cannot teach her the critical thinking skills to troubleshoot when something goes wrong with the IV catheter or if the cat begins to show signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

The medical and nursing professions depend heavily on learning from one another, learning in a community of healthcare professionals. I would say the application of “See one, do one, teach one” is different today from when Dr. Halstead used it in 1892 in his surgical residency program. Healthcare providers, such as nurses and doctors, are taught certain psycho-motor skills. These skills do not require a high level of reasoning, rather memorization and lots of practice. This is where the “See one, do one, teach one” phrase comes into play. The faculty must use current evidence-based practices and adhere to patient safety guidelines. The student’s responsibility is to come to class and lab prepared and practice the skill until near-perfection is accomplished. This traditional teaching model lacks important components to ensure students are competent to practice.

Many active and cooperative learning strategies are used throughout medical and nursing curricula today. Learning strategies may include problem-based learning, competency-based training model, flipped-classrooms, and simulations. Yet, what works best for the student’s learning in the clinical setting without faculty reverting to the coined term “See one, do one, teach one”, and how does the student’s learning transfer to everyday practice in the clinical setting? It is my personal opinion there is not a simple solution to a complex learning system. Textbooks provide students knowledge and simulations mimic clinical practice environments. It must be assessed whether the student’s attitudes, behaviors, clinical skills, and clinical reasoning transfers to the clinical setting. Faculty can be role models for students using the “See one, do one, teach one” model, but faculty must move beyond this teaching paradigm.

The mission of the College of Nursing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is to prepare excellent professional nurses who contribute to the health and welfare of individuals, families and communities in diverse health care environments. If you are looking to attend one of the top nursing programs in the country, we invite you to visit our website for more information.