MBBS (Hons), FRACGP, AFHEA, MMed (UQ)
Dr Heba Azer is a lecturer and convenor of the primary care course at UNSW school of clinical medicine, Rural clinical campus, Wagga Wagga.
She is also a practicing General practitioner who has a strong passion for teaching the future generation of doctors. Heba has been affiliated with UNSW for so many years as a principal supervisor for medical students undertaking their clinical attachments in general practice and also a lecturer at the local Rural medical school.
Dr Azer grew up in Cairo, Egypt and straight after completing her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery with honours in 2003, she moved to Australia to live and complete all her post-graduate training. She obtained her Fellowship of The Royal Australian College of General Practice in 2012.
In 2020, Dr Azer completed master degree (MMed) in the field of skin cancer medicine from the University of QLD and was awarded Dean's commendations for academic excellence. Her interest in high education has lead her to seek further professional development in this area, and she has become an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Advance High Education UK (AFHEA).
I am currently involved in the delivery of and teaching Phase 3 Primary care course contents. I also facilitate and teach some tutorials for Phase 2 medical students at the campus.
I supervise medical students undertaking clinical attachments in general practice.
One of the areas of my expertise is teaching about skin cancer diagnosis and prevention for undergraduate and post graduate students.
My teaching philosophy;
As an academic in my clinical discipline I acknowledge that I bear a role in which I must” practice what I preach”. My teaching philosophy is inspired by my learning philosophy, where teaching is like learning: an ever evolving and dynamic process that is adapted and developed as I pursue my professional and personal life. Teaching is a passion, Driven by such a passion to teach throughout both my undergraduate and post graduate years, in addition to the practice of medicine as a GP, I had a goal: to be also an academic. a great opportunity to blend these two passions in one. As a facilitator of a primary care course, my role is to encourage active learning using various strategies to create a stimulating learning environment and hence encourage critical thinking and curiosity in the classroom. Such inquisitiveness will help students to develop their problem-solving skills and accordingly achieve their learning goals through encouraging self-directed learning and teamwork. I have the responsibility as a teacher to empower my students with skills, and not just clinical knowledge, to positively approach learning, not solely to pass exams but to ground themselves with the skills and apply the accumulated knowledge in their future practice.
I reflect to how I myself learned; I was inspired by dedicated engaged teachers that I encountered throughout my learning journey. I believe teaching practice is influenced by past learning experience as well as peers and learners’ feedback. My teaching should be based largely around my students’ strengths and weaknesses and not just their learning, through adopting a student-centered approach that aims at enhancing student’s engagement in class and create a supportive learning environment. [i] for that to be achieved, curriculum or course design and delivery should reflect teaching future doctors working in the 21st century. [ii]
It is also vital to uphold professional values, create an engaging and inclusive learning environment that is based on equity, respect of the diversity and backgrounds of learners. [iii]
Effective teaching should encourage the application of course material to the clinical contexts and foster critical thinking skills.[iv]
With time, experience and reflective practice I come to realise my own strengths and weakness, striving to know how I could enhance my teaching skills and competence as an academic. I would continually be looking for opportunities to achieve that through ongoing professional development activities. [v]
[i] Anon, Student centered learning - edpolicy.stanford.edu. Available at: https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/SCOPE-student-centered-learning-DL.pdf [Accessed September 12, 2021].
[ii] Spencer, J.A. & Jordan, R.K., 1999. Learner centred approaches in medical education. The BMJ. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/318/7193/1280.1 [Accessed September 12, 2021].
[iii] Anon, Achieving equity and quality in higher education global ... Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326922215_Achieving_Equity_and_Quality_in_Higher_Education_Global_Perspectives_in_an_Era_of_Widening_Participation_Global_Perspectives_in_an_Era_of_Widening_Participation [Accessed September 12, 2021].
[iv] Sharples, J.M. et al., 2017. Critical thinking in healthcare and education. The BMJ. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2234 [Accessed September 12, 2021].
[v] S;, D., Embracing reflective practice. Education for primary care : an official publication of the Association of Course Organisers, National Association of GP Tutors, World Organisation of Family Doctors. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22306139/ [Accessed September 12, 2021].