Teaching: on the front line

十二月 12, 2003

What is your experience of teaching? Pat Leon asks teachers how they manage.

Name : Karen Mattick

Age : 31

Job : Lecturer in clinical education, Peninsula Medical School, a partnership between Plymouth and Exeter universities and the National Health Service in Devon and Cornwall.

Salary : Luckily, I don't do it just for the money.

Qualifications : BSc microbiology (Sheffield); MSc clinical microbiology (London), PhD clinical microbiology (Exeter); MSc in educational research (in progress, Exeter). My friends and family think I'm mad to do a second masters, but it has opened my eyes to a world of qualitative methodology and research philosophy.

Experience : Initially as a clinical scientist with the Public Health Laboratory Service but more recently as academic lead for infection, a problem-based learning tutor and academic mentor at Peninsula Medical School, which was founded in 2000. I'm always keen to take on something new, which has led to plenty of interesting educational experiences.

Hours spent teaching : This has varied dramatically from month to month since I joined Peninsula. We're developing a medical curriculum from scratch, so the planning has often had to take priority. On average, I spend 28 hours a week on curriculum development and teaching.

Hours spent on red tape : Not too much yet. We've not inherited any "processes", and we have had the luxury of being able to minimise the red tape. Long may it last.

Hours spent on research : The medical school and individual staff members were keen to be recognised for research excellence from day one - so I spend as much of my time on research as possible, although in practice this is about 30 per cent of my workload. My projects include looking at approaches to studying and readiness for interprofessional learning in under-graduate students, and investigating how pathology is taught and learnt in the UK.

Teaching bugbear : Creating a curriculum is a fantastic opportunity, and Peninsula is turning the traditional approach on its head, making it more hands-on. Students meet patients in the community from their first week. My teaching bugbear is that there are days when I tie myself in knots with the number of things we are trying to juggle, working very hard but seeming to get nowhere.

How would you solve it? By keeping alert and thinking about the implications of everything we do. For example, if a scheduled session is removed or replaced, we need to be certain that the topic is covered adequately elsewhere.

Best teaching moment : Seeing the amazing progress of our students in one year makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Worst teaching moment : Standing in at short notice on a topic that I was not familiar with. That was not much fun, but I was entirely open with the students about the gaps in my knowledge and I think they appreciated that.

Funniest teaching moment : The video link between Exeter and Plymouth was playing up just before the start of a lecture. Conversations of the Plymouth audience came across quite loudly in the Exeter lecture theatre and a particularly juicy bit of gossip was heard by all.

Teaching tips : Ensure each student has an academic mentor. Mentors keep a friendly eye on their progress. The mentor is their first point of contact if things are not going so well. One of my mentees found writing project reports very difficult, but after she was advised of all the resources and support structures available, she managed to turn her performance around entirely. I was delighted.

Outside interests : The great outdoors - I love walking, camping and skiing.

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