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06 Dec 2018


Every day, great doctors around Australia go above and beyond to teach students, and role model what medicine is all about. This year the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) celebrated those teachers in medical schools and hospitals with the National Awards for Teaching Excellence.

The AMSA National Awards are the highest honour bestowed on a teacher by medical students across the country. They are based on nominations from around the country, and represent students’ appreciation and recognition of teachers who have made an especially positive impact on their studies. There are a number of award categories including excellence in teaching, in rural education, teaching by a junior doctor, and as well as teaching by a member of an allied health profession.

Although it is such an important part of the doctor’s role, the teaching culture across different hospitals varies widely. Despite the recent focus and positive steps in the last few years, bullying, harassment, and teaching by humiliation are still too common an experience. These awards are part of AMSA’s #GoodDoctorsTeach campaign, acknowledging those who tackle this by actively creating a positive teaching culture within medicine.

AMSA received close to 100 nominations for the awards. Reading those nominations was heart-warming, as student after student shared stories of the teachers who have inspired, motivated and challenged them. It was a reminder of just how significant the impact of teaching is on the lives of students, and of how many exceptional teachers there are.

On behalf of Australian medical students, I’d like to thank all the doctors and allied health professionals who make it part of their daily work to make medicine a welcoming and exciting place for students and junior doctors, and nurturing their passion. Consultant or intern; metropolitan or remote; doctor, midwife or echocardiographer: the way you treat your students is making for better future doctors, and a better medical culture in Australia.

Excellence in Teaching winner: Dr Zafar Smith (James Cook University)

Quote from students: “Dr Smith has gone above and beyond teaching us Emergency Medicine in our 3rd year. He completely re-vamped the course making it much easier to learn and more enjoyable. Every single person I know has enjoyed his lectures, tutorial and approachability. He uses interactive methods of teaching which engage the class, such as gosoapbox and kahoot quizzes to test us, and has even created a deck of cards with Emergency medicine case studies that we were all able to get our hands on and use for our exams. As this is his first year of coordinating and lecturing this course, he has outdone himself and on behalf of Med 3 at James Cook University, we would like to recognise his efforts and generosity, and the fun spirit he has brought to sometimes difficult topics.”

Excellence in rural education winner: Dr Elizabeth Kennedy (University of Melbourne, Goulburn Valley Region)

Quote from student: “Dr Kennedy has provided me with outstanding mentorship over 2018, cementing my passion for rural medicine ... She is consistently motivated to include students in the extracurriculars of the medical profession, including education events in the Goulburn Valley Region, attending Youth Forums regarding young women's health, and promoting student engagement in the community. She constantly provides me with the mentorship and support to strive for more, and to be the kind of person and doctor that is needed in a rural area. She constantly gives her medical knowledge, emotional support and more to her patients and I learn from her each and every day.”

Excellence in teaching by a junior doctor winner: Dr Kenneth Cho (University of Sydney and University of Western Sydney, Nepean Hospital)

Quote from selection panel: “Kenneth’s work developing a JMO-led bedside tutorial program and a JMO-led Friday lecture series, run by Junior Medical Officers for medical students is an example of the way anyone, despite age or experience, can lead by example to create a culture of teaching where they work.”

Excellence in teaching by a member of an allied health profession winner: Mr David Law (Echocardiographer, University of New South Wales, Coffs Harbour Hospital)

Quote from student: “David- Coffs Harbour's most prized sonographer- is probably the only teacher I've had who has been able to explain ECGs in a way that makes sense. But more important than that is how he has made the hospital such an inclusive place for medical students to be, welcoming us to catheterisation lab, and always taking the time to explain things to us.”


Published: 06 Dec 2018