L/R: Warwick Bagg (Head of the Medical Programme, FMHS, University of Auckland), Alex Wallace and Raewyn Wooderson (Waikato Clinical School manager)
Our children are in the best hands as Waikato DHB’s Dr Alexandra Wallace was recently presented with this year’s Dennis Pickup Clinical Teacher Award for her outstanding contribution to clinical education by Auckland’s Medical School.
Dr Wallace is a specialist and senior lecturer in paediatrics at Waikato Hospital. Since her commencement in this post, she’s been recognised for reinvigorating the teaching programme for year 5 and 6 paediatric medical students at Waikato hospital, empowering them to thrive in the clinical environment.
Excellence in teaching is pivotal in healthcare and is a mission of the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences which has offered these highly regarded teaching awards for over two decades.
Dr Wallace has gone beyond what is required by the school of medicine, incorporating roles of mentorship, career guidance, pastoral care and research supervision in addition to clinical teaching. Her achievements in clinical teaching are so far reaching it’s difficult to capture them all in one story.
She believes that the best learning happens when students consider themselves to be part of the team and are able to contribute to patient care in meaningful ways, and she’s worked tirelessly to ensure the paediatric department views teaching students as part of their day-to-day business.
Alex helps students reach their learning goals by covering all opportunities available to them at Waikato DHB, and meets with them regularly to ensure they are achieving these goals.
She also runs a session for year 6 students towards the end of their paediatric attachment covering career planning and advice on obtaining work-life balance in medicine.
Her passion for research and innovation as a clinical leader has seen students undertake projects which have led to significant improvements in clinical practice in the paediatric department. A recent project she supervised saw two registrars set up a simulation workshop for 5th and 6th year medical students using technology including manikins and apps. One of these students (who was inspired and mentored by Dr Wallace) was Dr Aaron Ooi, was the first recipient of a New Zealand Medical Teaching Award.
In recent years, two of Dr Wallace’s students have been awarded the New Investigator’s prize at the Paediatric Society of New Zealand’s annual scientific meeting.
The extent to which Dr Wallace acts as a role model and excellent clinician, along with her influence on students is best voiced by the students themselves. Some student comments from the awards submission were:
- “Dr Wallace is an excellent role model; she was very helpful with any questions and gave great feedback. Dr Wallace was also an excellent teacher in clinic.”
- “Dr Wallace: amazing consultant. Approachable and knowledgeable, provided us with the independence to attend clinics while ensuring we were still an active member of our team.”
- “Dr Wallace is a conscientious practitioner who took the time and effort to get to know me. I was touched by her warmth.”
- “Dr Wallace is very passionate. I loved the research integration into medical practice.”
- “Thanks Alex! Had the best time! You are amazing.”
- “Great department, seriously considering paeds as a possible future field of specialisation.”
- “Dr Wallace really cared about our experience and was very supportive. It makes all the difference to our learning when staff are happy to have us around. Thanks for letting us do an exciting audit!”
- “Definitely reinforced my desire to be a paediatrician.”
- “Possibly the best and most well organised training of all of medical schools.”
- “Dr Wallace was very welcoming and motivated. Her passion is infectious.”
More about the Dennis Pickup Award
The Dennis Pickup Clinical Teacher Awards are for individual clinical teachers who are judged by staff and students to have made an outstanding contribution to medicine, nursing, pharmacy or optometry by virtue of their qualities as role models and their contribution to the relationship between the health professions and the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences.
The award is named in recognition of the contribution to clinical education by Mr Dennis Pickup, a former CEO of Auckland Hospital.