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A leader in medical education

A leader in medical education

Dr. Michelle Gibson is an assistant professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Queen’s. She obtained her medical degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1999, then came to Queen’s University for her residency in family medicine and care of the elderly. Dr. Gibson also completed her M.Ed. at Queen’s in 2013; her research was on assessment of students in clinical rotations. She is the newest recipient of the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, given annually by the QUAA.
[Dr. Michelle Gibson]
Dr. Michelle Gibson at St. Mary's of the Lake Hospital

"I do not remember a time in my life when I did not want to teach,” says Michelle Gibson. ”I was drawn to medicine in part because of the opportunities to teach in different settings. Since I started medical school, I have had a number of mentors ho have encouraged me in my teaching roles, and supported me in seeking out educational leadership positions.

“When I started in practice, I was an educator with great enthusiasm, but with limited knowledge about theories of learning, assessment, and leadership. Fortunately, based on the guidance of mentors, I was able to participate in faculty development sessions, and then I embarked upon my M.Ed. on a part-time basis. My course-work and readings in formative assessment and the theories that underpin practice have had a significant influence in shaping my current (and ever-evolving!) philosophy regarding teaching and learning.”

Richard Reznick, Dean of Health Sciences, emphasizes the fact that Dr. Gibson completed her M.Ed. while balancing her work as a practising physician and teacher and with other professional obligations. “It is this level of commitment to medical education that makes Michelle stand out as an educator in our university,” said Dr. Reznick in a letter of support to her award nomination submission. When the Queen’s School of Medicine began the monumental task of redesigning its curriculum, Dr. Gibson was part of the team leading the evolution towards the school’s new foundations curriculum. She helped develop and implement new courses in undergraduate medicine and clerkship.

Dr. Gibson’s pedagogical approach

“I provide many active learning opportunities that focus on ways of thinking about problems, as opposed to simply delivering expert content in lecture format,” says Dr. Gibson.

"My geriatric patients do not come to me with ‘textbook’ presentations, so my students need to have had practice and feedback about how to think about atypical presentations. To do this well, they need to have had opportunities to assess their learning and to adapt when they encounter a problem that was not covered in class. To facilitate this, I have adopted an assessment for learning approach to my teaching: I deliberately incorporate frequent opportunities for self-assessment and feedback. And, since my patients are inherently complex, I want my students to have the skills to collaborate and learn from other physician disciplines and other health-care professionals, so often my teaching is collaborative. In this way I actively role model how we care for some of the most vulnerable patients in the health-care system.”

Testimonials from Dr. Gibson’s students in their nomination of her for the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching:

"What sets her apart is her willingness to engage in supportive, candid teaching moments."

"We are inspired to learn to care for our aging population and we are also inspired to care about our own learning as much as she does."

"Her contagious enthusiasm for geriatrics has a way of making even the student who is bound to be a pediatrician excited for a lecture on the frail elderly."

"She carefully structures learning teams to include students from varied backgrounds in an effort to promote peer teaching. As a result, our classmates now embrace and thrive in team-based environments, the types of environments we will work in for the rest of our careers."

Dr. Gibson will receive her award at the QUAA Gala awards dinner on April 7, 2017.


[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 4-2016]