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An ‘innovative and collaborative’ educator

Throughout her career at Queen’s University Heather Murray, an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, has won a number of teaching awards.

[Heather Murray]
Heather Murray (Emergency Medicine) is the winner of the 2019 Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award.

Described by her colleagues as a “passionate, dedicated, innovative and collaborative,” educator it is perhaps no surprise that Dr. Murray is this year’s recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, which recognizes undergraduate, graduate or professional teaching that has had an outstanding influence on the quality of student learning at Queen’s.

While Dr. Murray is honoured to receive the award, she is quick to highlight that many fellow faculty and staff members have contributed to her teaching achievements.

“I'm thrilled to be included in the list of stellar educators at Queen’s who have been recognized with this award – it's a huge honour,” Dr. Murray says. “At the same time, I recognize that it takes the collective work of a team to deliver excellent teaching. I'm able to create high quality learning events because of a large amount of background effort from both the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Undergraduate School of Medicine. The environment in my department and at the medical school encourages innovation and excellence. I'm fortunate to work here. It is clear that the learning experience of students is paramount.”

As a faculty member, Dr. Murray has been heavily engaged in teaching, curriculum development and leadership within the Undergraduate Medical Education program at the School of Medicine and has played a significant role in almost every aspect of the curriculum.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“The adjudication committee was particularly impressed with the energy and imagination Dr. Murray brings to educational innovations and her fearless and relentless approach to improving student learning through educational change,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “Dr. Murray is an exemplar for scholarly approaches to educational leadership with her tireless efforts to include clinical reasoning into the medical school curriculum.”

In winning the award several achievements were highlighted.

The first was the development, implementation and evaluation of a new curriculum enhancing the medical student learning of evidence-based medicine (EBM) and critical appraisal of scientific literature. The curriculum has had a lasting impact on student confidence and ability to interpret and apply emerging medical science long after they have graduated from Queen’s.

Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award recipients:
2018 Erik Knutsen, Faculty of Law
2017 Catherine Donnelly, School of Rehabilitation Therapy
2016 Jill Atkinson, Department of Psychology
2015 James Fraser, Physics, Physics Engineering and Astronomy
2014 Stephen Lougheed, Biology
2013 Anne Godlewska, Geography
2012 Lindsay Davidson, Surgery
2011 Brian Frank, Electrical and Computer Engineering
2010 Mark Weisberg, Law
2009 Richard Ascough, Theology/Religious Studies
2008 Bill Newstead, Chemistry
2007 Ron Easteal, Anatomy and Cell Biology
2006 John Smol, Biology

For this work, Dr. Murray was recognized with the inaugural Principal’s Education Award for Curriculum Development.

With the support of a number of Emergency Medicine colleagues Dr. Murray also created a series of Diagnostic Reasoning teaching sessions embedded in the second-year Clinical Skills course. Beyond the lessons, this intervention displayed a vision to realign the clinical skills teaching activities of physicians with educational encounters that are authentic to their clinical practice experience, enhancing the impact of the experience for both student and faculty.

She also designed a new course in the second year of Medical School (Case of the Month) which uses patient illness stories to not only teach fundamental clinical knowledge, but also incorporate complex elements such as legal issues, professionalism, and complex communication.

Dr. Murray says that she works hard to ensure her students understand what she is teaching and, when complete, they will have an appreciation of how these challenging concepts apply to the practice of medicine on a practical level.

“The volume of information medical students receive and are expected to understand is daunting; creating relevance by drawing a line between content and the real world applications is really important,” she says. “I strive to make my learning events engaging. Although I love adding humour whenever possible, more often engagement means adding patient perspectives to the content. At the end of the day, I want my students to become excellent physicians incorporating the best possible evidence while sharing care decisions with their patients. Everything I do works towards that goal.”

Dr. Murray will be recognized during Spring Convocation and will be the featured speaker at the annual teaching awards ceremony in January 2020.

More information about the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, including eligibility requirements, is available on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.