Teaching evidence-based health care and being a doctor – a marriage made in heaven
18 July 2023
EBHC programmes Students Teaching
Alumni, Anand Rajan, reflects his experience of the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Evidence-Based Health Care and how this is only the beginning of his EBHC educator’s journey.
At the age of 11, as a result of an unfortunate fall, I had an epidural haematoma. I was hospitalized and operated on. After the operation, I suffered from hemiparesis and underwent rehabilitation. Every day I would lie in bed unable to move much. My days passed as I witnessed nurses and doctors around me tirelessly helping patients. What they did inspired me. I wanted to pursue a degree in medicine and pay it forward in the field of medicine. To be honest, a career as a teacher never crossed my mind as becoming a physician had always been my childhood dream.
In 2002, I completed my mechanical engineering degree at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and upon graduation, I founded Penciltutor School as a social enterprise that specializes in providing private GCE O Levels for students who have either failed O Levels or dropped out of school. In 2006, due to financial constraints, I applied and gained admission to Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania which was far more affordable than schools that were recognized by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC). I ran Penciltutor remotely from Romania, came back to Singapore to teach some classes during my summer holidays and graduated with a medical degree in 2013. In 2014 during my MSc in preventive cardiology course at Imperial College London, I read numerous research papers and currently, I am well-versed with common study designs, such as observational (eg. cross-sectional, case control, longitudinal) and experimental (eg. randomised control trials) studies. Additionally, techniques required to critique scientific articles, developing research questions and data analysis using the STATA statistical software was also covered in depth. Returning to Singapore after my MSc, from 2015-2016, I also completed the Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment (ACTA) and the Diploma in Adult and Continuing Education (DACE) under Singapore’s Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework. Obtaining ACTA enabled me to transition from a teacher to a facilitator who could offer a better student-centred learning experience. Likewise, having completed a DACE with an elective on Designing & Developing eLearning Programme, I am also able to use Bloom’s taxonomy for instructional design. In 2016, I became the director of Life Saving Training Centre, Singapore’s first heartland-based first aid training centre that was established in 1995 (Venkataraman, A., 2017). Currently, with a team of about 30 part-time first aid instructors, I teach occupational, child, standard first aid and basic cardiac life support (BCLS) courses to adult learners.
As a physician who is blessed with the gift of being able to teach, I was wondering how I could blend everything that I had learned into a single entity and I chanced upon the PGCert in Teaching Evidence Based Healthcare course at Oxford. This course is a treasure trove for any medical educator. During the Developing Practice in Medical Education module, I learnt to identify my dominant and back-up perspectives using the Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) (Collins & Pratt, 2011) and I also gained a better understanding on how to use the ‘one-minute paper’ and the ‘critical incident questionnaire (CIQ)’ to obtain learners’ evaluation (Brookfield, 2017). Robust discussions coupled with lectures from leading experts was the cornerstone of this module. As for the Teaching Evidence-Based Practice module – the ‘PICO’ method taught in the was the most memorable for me.
As a medical educator, I aspire to introduce evidence-based practice (EBP) to first aid instructors and other allied healthcare professionals. EBP will arm first aid instructors with the necessary tools to answer unanticipated questions and enable allied healthcare professionals to obtain evidence-based answers from reputable sources. Last year, I completed my PGCert and I am thrilled that the university is currently offering the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Teaching and Education) course. Additional modules such as Developing Online Education and Resources, which is taught during the MSc, will undeniably equip me with the tools to deliver world-class online EBP classes to first aid instructors who work 6 days a week and allied healthcare professionals who work gruelling shifts.
Over the years, I have fallen in love with teaching. Somehow teaching just doesn’t feel like a job. Teaching is a natural extension of me and Oxford’s TEBHC has allowed me to marry my passion in teaching with my childhood dream of becoming a doctor. What more could I ask for?
Anand is an alumni of our Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching Evidence-Based Health Care. You can find out more about the course here. His journey continues on the new MSc in EBHC Teaching and Education. Applications for the 2024 cohort open in September but many of the course modules are available as short courses. Find out more about the short courses here.