Goldszmidt earns top teaching award

By Paul Mayne
February 14, 2013

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3MPaul Mayne, Western News
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor Mark Goldszmidt has been recognized by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) as a 3M National Teaching Fellow, widely seen as the top national award for teaching leadership at the postsecondary level.

Mark Goldszmidt has always felt you could simply go about your day-to-day teaching at Western, or you could want to make things better.

He chose the latter.

As such, Goldszmidt has been recognized by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) as a 3M National Teaching Fellow, widely seen as the top national award for teaching leadership at the postsecondary level.

“I feel really blessed and supported in the role I play in education here at Western,” Goldszmidt said. “It’s reaffirming, humbling and unbelievably gratifying to see the work you do appreciated.”

Since beginning at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in 2000, Goldszmidt has been interested in how communications between medical students, residents and doctors shape the learning the student-doctors experience and the quality of care patients receive.

“My area of expertise, from a researcher standpoint and as a teacher, is communications and clinical research – how we teach people to communicate in a way that it shapes how they think as professionals,” he said. “People are socialized into medicine, so the real teaching happens not in the classroom but in the wards where, at the bedside, you’re engaging with the patient and team, and you’re teaching them how to engage. So you’re constantly on display to see how you’re interacting, what you’re doing and what you’re not doing.”

Through his research and involvement in the creation of Schulich’s Centre for Education Research & Innovation, Goldszmidt works with colleagues toward a system of medical communication and teaching which encourages trainees to be more creative clinical thinkers and communicators.

Medical school is about foundations, Goldszmidt said, giving people the skills to start residency. Running the in-patient teaching unit, he can have four medical students, three junior residents and a senior resident on one team. Teaching in that environment requires getting everybody engaged.

“The centre is about building more effective ways of supporting others to do medical education at the highest level,” Goldszmidt said. “So the real place I want to change things is when students hit the clinical environment, to make them better able to do what they’re there to do, which is learning how to be good doctors who know how to care for patients.”

Although there are different levels involved in the care of patients, Goldszmidt added part of the learning is being an active member of the team, supporting them to learn how to care, that they feel like they make a difference.

 “It can become very easy to focus in on all the details of the case, such as the lab work, and forget that ultimately you’ve only made a difference if you’ve actually done something that is going to make things better for this patient as they go back into their lives. I try and instill that it’s not just about why are you here today, but what can we in the health profession do to help for tomorrow.”

This latest 3M fellowship comes as no surprise to those in Schulich. Goldszmidt has been recognized in the past with awards from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, the Canadian Association for Medical Education and an Award of Excellence in Education from his own faculty.

While his name may be on the award, Goldszmidt said without a supportive work environment his contributions would be for naught.

“What I found here is not that we do education perfectly, but I found a supportive environment where when you want to come in and do some innovative work and make things better, people are really happy to have someone involved in that way,” he said. “My dean and department chair were the type of people who actually saw the vision I had and were willing to support it. I’m blessed because I do my teaching in an environment that I love to work in.”

Goldszmidt said he looks forward to continuing to be part of the thriving education research community he has found at Western.

“I like to think I’ve grown as an educator. I’ve always been an idealist, so for me, I’ve always tried to strive to get people to step up to really be the best they can possibly be in the role that they do,” he said.

Now in its 28th year, the 3M National Teaching Fellowship has honoured 278 Canadian professors from 45 universities for their exceptional achievements and contributions to higher education across Canada.

Goldszmidt, and the nine other winners this year, will be recognized at the STLHE annual conference this June in Sydney, N.S., followed by a scholarly retreat in November in Banff, Alta.


Western has a proud tradition of 3M National Teaching Fellowship winners.

2013 Mark Goldszmidt, Department of Medicine

2012 Marjorie Johnson, Anatomy and Cell Biology

2008 Jim Silcox, Obstetrics and Gynecology

2005 Anton Allahar, Sociology

2004 Bertha Garcia, Pathology

2000 Francis Ping-Hung Chan, Anatomy and Cell Biology

1998 Mike Atkinson, Psychology

1996 Donald Cartwright, Geography

1995 Tom Haffie, Plant Sciences

1994 David Bentley, English

1994 Paul Mercer, Physiology

1993 Brock Fenton, Biology

1993 Marilyn Robinson, Physiology

1992 H.G. Murray, Physiology

1992 Wayne Weston, Medicine

1991 Alan Gedalof, English

1991 T.D. Gaily, Physics

1990 Madeline Lennon, Modern Languages and Literatures

1990 Colin Baird, Chemistry

1989 Paul Sills, Dentistry

1988 Peter Rosati, Engineering

1986 James Erskine, Business

1986 Eileen Gillese, Law


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