Imperial’s Dr Sonia Kumar leads team to success by demonstrating innovative teaching in the Faculty of Medicine.
The Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) recognises and rewards collaborative work that has had an impact on teaching and learning. Introduced in 2016, the Award, established by the Higher Education Academy, which is itself part of Universities UK, is open to all providers of higher education across the four nations of the UK.
Since 2016, 30 teams have been recognised, with 12 of them being awarded funding to continue their collaborative projects and further their impact.
Dr Kumar said: “The Undergraduate Primary Care Team’s story begins with a vision for medical education to become truly inclusive, making a transformational and sustainable difference to the health and wellbeing of patients, their families and communities.
"Winning the CATE is a momentous occasion for all of us in the team, receiving such an accolade and national acknowledgement for our work will serve as a potent catalyst for us." Dr Sonia Kumar
“It is this that has directed our attention, energy and drive as the team has grown beyond expectations over the past five years. Maximising the energy and talents of the full team, we all work to embrace our guiding principles of creativity, community, collaboration and evidence-based education in new exciting unpredictable ways.
“The team has created a multitude of courses and projects that are transformational to medical students and accountable to society, with education creating a powerful space in which an exciting symbiosis is starting to emerge with students learning their curriculum meaningfully, acting as agents of change within our local community.
“Winning the CATE is a momentous occasion for all of us in the team, receiving such an accolade and national acknowledgement for our work will serve as a potent catalyst for us to now evolve even further, sharing our vision and way of working with others.”
Working with students
One of the highlights of the teaching team’s efforts has been the development of ‘Community Action Projects’ (CAP) alongside a student steering group.
3rd Year Medicine students are now encouraged to complete an authentic, peer-assessed experiential project during their 10-week community medicine attachment. In this CAP, students identify a real-world problem within their local community and they engage with community stakeholders, patient and charity groups to design an intervention to address the challenge identified.
“For the first time I felt I was able to do something as a student and not feel like I was at university just waiting to become a doctor." Student feedback
Examples of CAP projects include a pair of students who recognised the ethnic diversity of their local population, which meant that local patients were unable to understand any health-related literature which was being provided by the doctors due to their limited English language skills. After engaging the local clinical commissioning group and patient groups, they developed an online website where patient condition leaflets were translated into variety of languages.
The initiative has been so successful, neighbouring areas are interested in the students working with their communities. In another example, one pair of students identified a lack of uptake of the cervical smear screening program in their local GP practice population. After discussing this with patients, they identified a lack of awareness amongst the patients as a key driver. They approached a local women’s cancer charity, and a Gynaecology Consultant from the local hospital to deliver an educational evening where local patients were invited to attend and learn about gynaecological malignancies and how they can be prevented.
Anonymous student feedback showed the value of this kind of active teaching:
- “Personally, I was happy I was able to do something that really helped patients. It was heartening to hear patients’ positive feedback for our project…I learnt that patients have a lot of healthcare needs and this is an eye-opener for me”
- “[I am] more aware of the needs of local populations and the need to think critically about how to influence people positively and in a sustainable way”
- “For the first time I felt I was able to do something as a student and not feel like I was at university just waiting to become a doctor"
The Director of Imperial’s Centre for Higher Education Scholarship and Research (CHERS), Professor Martyn Kingsbury, said: “The remarkable aspect of the Undergraduate Primary Care Education Team’s work is how they have embraced established educational expertise, whilst also developing their own innovations. They have used this to great effect in a variety of authentic and truly transformative learning experiences.
“Their practice and enthusiasm is exemplary. Their work is increasingly influential and they are a key part of our mission to transform teaching and learning at Imperial.”
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