Imperial College GP Tutor, Dr Christine Scott, won a 2017 Lifetime Teaching Award for her contribution to teaching medical students from Imperial College London. Here, she reflects on her experiences of teaching medical students.
Were you aware you were students’ inspiration and role model?
I think we often underestimate our impact on students. Now, as I read my feedback I recognise once again how extremely influential we are. What a great privilege, and what a great responsibility!
How long have you been teaching Imperial Medical Students for?
A lot of my embarrassment in receiving a lifetime teaching award is that I’ve only really been teaching at Imperial for about eight years. In a former era, I taught undergraduates from my alma mater, Newcastle University.
Why so long?
It hasn’t really been a very long time but I have been privileged to teach a number of different courses from first-year communication skills and First Clinical Attachment (FCA), doing some lecturing and teaching both in my practice and in the Department for Year 5 students on GP placement.
I really became involved in Imperial when I came along with a colleague to an introductory teaching session. It was a pragmatic decision, sessions were available and it’s my local medical school.
What kind of qualifications / CPD did you build up when teaching and how did this help you in this role?
Early on in my time teaching, I attended the Deanery Introduction to Teaching in Primary Care course (ITPCC). This really inspired me to be creative about the way I taught and gave me confidence to experiment, I really got a taste for it. Over the years, the annual GP teachers’ day and foundations of clinical practice (FoCP) conferences have been wonderful opportunities to learn. I always come not only with CPD credits but with my mind buzzing with new ideas of ways to teach and a whole new PDP for myself.
In what ways has teaching changed you and the way you practice medicine?
I think teaching has helped me to be more reflective and self-critical but also more confident. There is nothing like teaching something to ensure that you understand it well yourself and this is particularly true teaching within the clinical setting. My students have inspired me and challenged me to look at my practice through their young eyes. The skills of facilitation and feedback that I have learnt have had wider applicability working within the practice team. Lots of the teaching provided to us GP tutors at Imperial has also been extremely helpful. I look back gratefully on a number of memorable sessions, particularly those led by Giskin Day. Her teaching on medicine in the humanities has rekindled my love of reading and given me the courage to become creative!
Do you think hosting students has benefitted your GP practice, or the community you serve, in anyway?
The patients love talking to students and the perspective they bring, both on individual patients and on the service in general have been really useful. I think it also gives the whole practice a sense that they are contributing to the development of future doctors. In these days when we often feel tired and under pressure, it’s great to have the refreshing medical student perspective.
With the current NHS admin and recruitment pressures what would you be telling a family member if they were a GP and considering teaching?
Do it! The students you meet and the support and training you gain will be part of keeping you enthusiastic. When it works well, and it mostly does, the tutor-student partnership is formative for both parties, we change students but they change us. It is also clear from students that GPs are the people that really recognise them as individuals, adapt teaching to suit their learning needs and care about them – and that really counts. Finally, when I am old and unwell I want well taught and caring doctors to look after me!
Is there a memorable funny story from teaching you can imagine still recounting in the future?
I can’t really think of any funny stories, but certainly touching ones. The student who after his patient project was given a small silver teaspoon to remind him of parts of her story. My first year students performing a ballad to tell their patients story. Most recently two students explaining their patient’s illness using a wonderful model of a computer they had made as an allegory for his life.
We’ve heard about a beautiful house in France – tell us more about ‘life after being an Imperial teacher’
The beautiful house is on the edge of Paris and is part of my husband’s job. The main thing that will happen in my life after Imperial is being able to spend much more time in Paris with him making the most of all Paris offers. I’m also hoping to do some work developing appraisal with doctors working abroad and take some of my counselling skills to support our local church community. There will be plenty of time for coffee and museum visits and my Imperial friends will be warmly welcomed so keep in touch!