Aaron with mentor and DHB paediatrician Dr David Graham
Waikato DHB’s Dr Aaron Ooi was the first ever recipient of the New Zealand Medical Teaching Award (Resident Medical Officer category), at the New Zealand Medical Association Teaching Awards.
The recipients were announced late 2017 and awarded earlier this year, with Waikato DHB paediatrician Dr David Graham and mentor to Aaron saying: “He kept this award quiet for a bit, but that’s a reflection of the hardworking, humble person Aaron is.
“We’re absolutely delighted that this award has gone to one of the team, who’s a junior doctor – it bodes well for the future,” states Dr Graham.
The awards were introduced to recognise the positive impact that many doctors have had through their commitment to teaching and hippocratic oath, and to encourage the development of a positive clinical teaching culture and environment for the benefit of students, staff and ultimately patients.
And it is clear Aaron epitomises this and more. When asked what his driver is for teaching he said: “Working in the children’s service, it’s really about providing the best care for the kids, that’s what I strive for through my teaching.”
During his initial house officer years at Waikato Hospital Aaron said he was really inspired by a couple of registrars who were really keen on teaching and made a huge difference as he stepped up to be a registrar himself. Teachers like Waikato DHB registrar Ben McConchie and past registrar Vicki Pennock, would routinely incorporate teaching into their daily clinical practice, even taking extra time out of their evenings to do so. Aaron also worked alongside consultants Alex Wallace and Sneha Sadani with medical students that provided him the opportunity to be hands on in the delivery of education and refinement of these teaching skills over the years.
Aaron completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Education in 2017, and as part of this developed an undergraduate paediatric simulation programme for one of his papers with registrar James Hambidge. Based on the identified learning need in which students were often observers and not active participants in the assessment and management of moderately unwell children, the programme was developed to teach clinical and non-technical skills such as teamwork, communication and resource management, providing students the opportunity to receive feedback and reflect on their own practice when placed in such scenarios. Acknowledging resource constraints with limitations in time, cost and access to personnel and equipment, Aaron and James developed the programme using basic manikins and other technology including apps to address this need. 70 students have been through the programme since being set up last year.
Aaron has always made time for teaching saying, “In our environment, finding time to teach can always be a challenge and I’ve had to learn how to negotiate clinical demands with teaching,” he says.
“My team has always been really supportive and people will always help each other out. There’s a really good structure in place within the department where many bosses put medical education as a priority at Waikato.”
Aaron also helped establish and was the first appointed Clinical Medical Education Fellow in the Waikato, Lakes and Bay of Plenty area through the University of Auckland. Through this role, medical students who felt like they needed support could approach Aaron locally to support them with any issues on a regular basis, instead of having a fellow based in Auckland.
Dr David Graham has worked with and supported Aaron through his house officer and registrar years at Waikato Hospital explaining “As a children’s service we want to take care of each other, so we can take care of our patients. We want to be the service people want to work in and because of that I think Aaron’s a really good by-product of the paediatric training programme, along with the fact he [obviously] came with potential and is probably one of the brightest people I know.
“Aaron really wants to make a difference and a big way he does this is through the effective education of others. He makes this a positive experience so fun is had with clinical gains. He’s taken the time to get a good skill set in teaching but the driver for doing this is not to be a better teacher but to give our kids and their families the best care possible.
“This award is a reflection of how important our profession sees the teaching work of junior doctors. We have some really good trainers and trainees here and it’s our DHB’s responsibility to support them in every way we can because our community’s health will benefit from it.”
More detail about the award
You can read more about the award and why Aaron was chosen in the article by the NZMA Digest article.
The New Zealand Medical Teaching Award was launched jointly by the New Zealand Medical Association and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association.
The award gives praise to what is laudable, to recognise those who might not otherwise have been noted, and to create a positive and encouraging atmosphere where we can be inspired by champions of professionalism.