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Australasia’s top health education award goes to Otago

Thursday, 7 April 2016 9:22am

Tim-Wilkinson-image
Award winning Professor Tim Wilkinson.

The man driving innovation in training Otago medical students has won Australasia’s highest health education honour.

Christchurch-based Professor Tim Wilkinson is programme director for medical student training in the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery across the University’s three schools; in Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington.

The Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators recently awarded him its highest honour.

Association Vice-President Professor Ben Canny, who is Head of the School of Medicine at the University of Tasmania, says the award recognised Professor Wilkinson’s “incredible work” as a health education leader, and outstanding work in both curriculum development and research on medical training.

“Many of us look to you for inspiration and wise counsel, and assiduously track your publications for guidance,’’ Professor Canny said, in a congratulatory email.

"You treat one patient, you help them. You teach students to better treat and interact with patients, you help a larger group."

Professor Wilkinson says he worked for more than 20 years as a geriatrician and teacher of medical students studying gerontology then moved into developing medical curriculum, hoping to improve patient care.

“You treat one patient, you help them. You teach students to better treat and interact with patients, you help a larger group. You influence what students are learning, you can make a big difference to many more patients in hospitals and the community."

He also says the medical curriculum still focuses on medical science, communication, diagnosis and management skills but new technologies and approaches are improving student outcomes. That includes students visiting vulnerable populations such as prisoners to teach them about topics like sexual health, and a greater focus on professionalism, cultural awareness and quality interactions with clinical colleagues such as nurses.

Other Otago staff and students also featured at the association conference where Professor Wilkinson received his award. Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama spoke about the award-winning Hauora Maori curriculum developed by her Christchurch-based Maori/Indigenous Health Institute, and recently graduated doctor Anna Hogg won a prize for her research on the experiences of Otago medical students as they transition from third to fourth year.