It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of the 2015 SAAHE Distinguished Educator award, as Dr Jacqueline van Wyk. The following exercpt, taken from Dr van Wyk’s nomination, is testimony to the high level of scholarly activity that she has engaged in, and the contributions that she has made to South African health professions education:
Dr Van Wyk has been actively involved in higher education since 1995 and started at the University of Natal Durban’s (UND) Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in 2000 when appointed the education consultant to implement a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum. She has made a significant contribution to staff development and played various roles in the oversight of the curriculum which included the initial establishment of an integrated assessment office, which she headed from 2001-2003 while improving the teaching and quality of the MBChB programme. She served on each of the integrated theme design teams and on the assessment and curriculum committees and guided and prepared module templates for Senate approval. She headed the evaluations office (2004-2007) and she played a central role in preparing the faculty for the HPCSA accreditation visits to UKZN in 2001; 2005 and 2010. Dr Van Wyk’s teaching responsibilities revolved around training staff in health education and problem based learning, assessment, teaching and learning and research methodology and this led to improvements in the teaching and learning on the MBChB programme. She also participated in educational research and capacity development at the NRMSM and had co-authored many publications with various members of staff. She was the first educationalist to be selected for the FAIMER programme in 2004 when the programme was mainly aimed at clinicians and became part of the team that started the South African regional FAIMER institute (2007). Since 2008-2012, she has also played various roles in the design, teaching and administrative functions of SAFRI, has as its aims to develop networks and research capacity of health educators in the sub-Saharan African Region.
Dr Van Wyk has served as Teaching and Learning representative for the NRMSM on the senate and became part of the task team that formulated the T and L policies for the UKZN. Once of these relates to the “up-skilling” of all academics (with educational qualification) in educational matters. Dr Van Wyk has been teaching on these modules for the UKZN Education Induction Programme (UEIP) initiative on the Assessment and Teaching and learning courses. She also teaches on the Post-Graduate Diploma in Higher Education for the Centre of higher Education. The challenges in health professions sector have to innovative designs to expand training in research and education. This has culminated in the design of the programme to be delivers in e-learning format for Staff Development in the College of Health Sciences. Since 2006, she served on various panels such as those for the internal review for Quality Assurance of modules in the Department of Education prior to SAQA’ (HEQA) audit. In 2007 Dr Van Wyk became a founding member of the Women in leadership leverage (WILL) group at the Faculty of Health Sciences (UKZN) and served on the executive committee of this group designed to promote the development of research capacity and leadership ability in women within the University of KwaZulu Natal. Since 2011 serves an educationist for Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) for accrediting of undergraduate medical curricula. Her mentoring in research and post graduate supervision began in 2009 when she participated in cohort supervision for Masters and PhDs.
Dr Van Wyk journey into contributing to health education and research at an international level began when she became one of the founding members of the Sub-Saharan African FAIMER Regional Institute (SAFRI). SAFRI’s purpose is to improve the teaching and research capacity of health educators and foster growth of research into health professional education within the sub Saharan African region. Since 2007, she became the Programme director and executive member for SAFRI FAIMER as well as taught on the Design modules in Teaching & Learning, Programme Evaluation; Faculty Development, Research as well as supervised Post Graduate projects as part of SAFRI. The University of Venda recognised her expertise in curriculum design and staff development toward teaching problem based learning though inviting her to be a consultant during their Curriculum Indaba on Problem- based learning in 2005. This trend toward collaboration for the improvement of international health professional education continued when she was invited as a guest lecturer to collaborate on the Brazil FAIMER Regional institute.
Dr Van Wyk has engaged in research of her own and has presented papers at both international and national conferences. These research projects have been in collaboration with colleagues both in South Africa and internationally. These conference presentations include (2014) Towards Unity for Health (November 19-24) in Fortaleza Brazil, 2013 AMEE Prague 24-28 August 2012 and 2013 and 2012 The Network Conference Thailand and Canada respectively. On a national level she has presented at the SAAHE for several years.
Dr van Wyk has worked toward disseminating research and contributing towards debates in health professions education though serving as a reviewer for the South African Journal of Family Practice, BMC-Medical Education, and an evaluator for the National Research Foundation. S also served as a reviewer and is currently a deputy editor for the African Journal for Health Profession Educators (AJHPE).
To conclude, it can be seen from the contributions and collaborations in her research that Dr Van Wyk has impacted on capacity building for the health education and research both locally and internationally. She has assisted in furthering the body of knowledge on health professional education though her own research and collaborations with others as well as serving as reviewers for journals. From the attached references from students it can be attested that on a personal level. Dr van Wyk models the teaching methods that she advocates and her mentoring and assistance has helped develop and inspire academic both within KwaZulu Natal and internationally.
We are extremely proud of the achievements of Dr van Wyk and that we are able to recognise her significant contribution to South African health professions education through this award.