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The drive from north Wales to Cardiff for the Clinical Teacher of the Year Awards last year was long and tortuous – a little like the journey I have had as an educationalist. I initially trained in obstetrics and gynaecology, converted to general practice then combined the two before ‘portfolio’ careers were fashionable. Post MRCOG, I worked locally combining obstetrics, general practice and started some undergraduate teaching. I completed the Managing Obstetrics Emergencies and Trauma (MOET) course, was very flattered and a little shocked to be invited to be an instructor and my formal training in education began. I became the Honorary Lecturer for Reproductive Medicine for Cardiff University, implementing some of the techniques learned on MOET and the clinical staff reported that the students were better engaged, felt more included, and our feedback was excellent. I still keep in touch with the students that have gone into obstetrics, citing their time with us as an influence on their career choice.
It was time to formalise my teaching qualification and in doing my postgraduate certificate at Bangor University, like many people, I think I learned how to teach after I’d been at it for a few years already. I ‘diversified’ from hospital-based education, teaching emergency obstetrics to Winch-men paramedics at RAF Valley – briefed to ignore ‘Golden Osprey’ if he was there.
My nomination by Cardiff was completely unexpected. I had been nominated by my students for a Clinical Teaching award and was delighted with this – but was very honoured that Cardiff University considered that I was good teacher too. Having had a rather haphazard career progression, I have never felt anything other than a jobbing clinician adding some teaching as I went along.
On the way down to Cardiff I asked my husband to look in my glove compartment for my passport – obviously I didn’t need it to enter south Wales – but we were off abroad a few days later. It wasn’t there. I spent half an hour explaining irately that I would drop him off in Cardiff and drive back home to look for it – no-one would notice if I wasn’t at the ceremony. He disagreed quite forcefully. Sitting in the beautiful setting of the Cardiff Museum later I felt a fraud as usual, but dutifully waited to receive the Cardiff University Awards I knew about already. I was stunned when the the overall Wales winner was described as an obstetrician ………. ” Blimey, it’s you” he said, and I walked to the stage to receive my award.
The icing on the cake was just who was giving the award, Professor Dame Parveen Kumar of ‘Kumar-Clark’ fame. As a Bart’s graduate, I like many of my contemporaries have a secret pride that this was a textbook written by ‘our’ consultants. Without a doubt this was one of the proudest moments of my career and it was a privilege to receive it from her. It took a while to sink in that I had won the award. The other nominees were so impressive I was very honoured just to be placed amongst them.
In the year after winning I have continued teaching medical students in general practice and contributing as the Honorary Lecturer for northeast Wales. I hope to be part of the coming expansion of delivering the C21 curriculum in primary care in the north.
My only sadness is that my father died just before I received the award and as a teacher himself would have been very proud that I had been recognised in this way.
Note: having obtained and paid for an emergency passport a few days later, I discovered my passport in the glove compartment whilst on holiday in France.