Professional development is integral to the Doctor of Medicine.

Professional development and mentoring

UWA Faculty of Medicine has two mentoring programs for medical student mentoring. Each program has a different emphasis and requirements.

In many medical school this is part of the hidden curriculum but at UWA the Clinical-Student Mentoring and the Student MeDMentor Programs are a formal part of the curriculum and are structured and commence from the first week in the course. 

The aim of both mentoring programs are to act as frameworks which provide support for professional skills and relationships to develop for the medical students as they experience the trials and tribulations in their journey to becoming doctors and ensure that they are developing appropriate professional behaviours.

Student MeDMentor

In the first week of the program students are allocated senior student peer mentors who can assist them with the practical aspects of university life, insights into the medical course, learning strategies and social aspects of being a medical student.

Recently the UWA and the Faculty of Medicine in collaboration with the Western Australian Medical Students Society (WAMSS) expanded the UWA Student Services UniMentor program. The Student-Student MeDMentoring runs parallel to the Clinician-Student mentoring.

Clinician student mentoring program

UWA MD Professional Development and Mentoring (PDM) forms part of our clinician student mentoring program.

Doctors work in a very privileged position. With this role come responsibilities and challenges. Just as it is essential for a graduate to know how to diagnose or treat an illness, students need to graduate with the professional skills that are required as an intern and beyond.

UWA is the only Australian medical school to have a longitudinal mentoring program whereby all medical students have a clinical mentor involved in the student’s professional development for the duration of the course.

By the end of Year 1, all students are paired with experienced clinician mentors and keep this relationship throughout the course. This provides a longitudinal mentorship experience for students until the end of their course. Students learn the importance of mentorship, can discuss both their future career paths, and any professional and ethical issues they have encountered as well as any discipline specific issues depending on the discipline area of the mentor.

The graduate outcomes related to 'professionalism' are:

  • Professional attitudes and behavior
  • Self-care
  • Medical Ethics
  • Medical Law and Governance

The outcomes are assessed using a variety of methods throughout the course.

The PDM program across the course consists of:

  • Mentoring from Years 1 to 4 with an experienced clinician
  • Seminars
  • ePortfolio tasks
  • Case based ethics essay.

MD portfolio

An MD portfolio is a collection of student work demonstrating that learning has occurred over time.

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) course will use Pebble Pad as a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) for students to develop their MD Portfolios. The Faculty believes the MD Portfolio is an essential part of the MD learning and professional development process.

Philosophy

The MD course requires student development and achievement over the four years to a point where they are able to enter the workforce as a junior professional. Many of the expected outcomes cannot be adequately assessed using short-term assessments. A portfolio will be used to facilitate longitudinal integrated learning and assessment for the following reasons:

  • Students can critically reflect on their academic progress, professional growth and assist in planning their learning and development of life-long learning skills required as a doctor;
  • Monitoring and assessing development of higher order knowledge, skills and professional behaviours;
  • Students can demonstrate achievement of outcomes from the 6 PLACES Themes and 24 Outcome Strands which may require extended time to complete.

Purpose

A portfolio is a collection of a student’s work composed of a selection of content (assets) which demonstrates that learning has occurred over time. The main effects of portfolio use are reported as being; improvement in student knowledge and understanding, greater self- awareness and encouragement to reflection, and the ability to learn independently. Some studies also suggest that use of portfolios improves feedback to students and gives tutors a greater awareness of students' needs, may help students to cope with uncertain or emotionally demanding situations, and prepares students for postgraduate settings in which reflective practice and collection of evidence over time is required.


The MD course requires student development and achievement over the 4 years to a point where they are able to enter the workforce as a junior professional. Many of the expected outcomes cannot be adequately assessed using short-term assessments. A portfolio will be used to facilitate longitudinal integrated learning and assessment for the following reasons:

  • Students can critically reflect on their academic progress, professional growth and assist in planning their learning and development of life-long learning skills required as a doctor
  • Faculty and students can monitor and assess development of higher order knowledge, clinical skills and professional behaviours
  • Students can demonstrate achievement of outcomes from the 6 PLACES Themes (Professional, Leader, Advocate, Clinician, Educator, Scholar) and 24 Outcome Strands which may require extended time to complete
  • Students can demonstrate achievement of outcomes in diverse ways
  • Students are encouraged to integrate learning over time, rather than learning in a haphazard fashion for the sake of short-term examinations.

A major characteristic of portfolios is that the learner, as much as possible, selects the assets which may for example include log books, case reports, critical incidents, written assignments, and video or audio of events or performance.

In the initial phase of the MD, the portfolio process and expected assets will be more prescriptive to allow students familiarisation with the process and lessen the stress associated with entering a new course. Flexibility will increase over time as students have more frequent relevant experiences on which to base portfolio assets.

Although there may be differences in purpose, structure and assessment requirements, certain aspects are usually seen as important.

  • Collections of evidence: what has been experienced, seen, done, written, made etc.
  • Reflections on learning: the significance of what has been experienced for current?and future learning and practice.
  • Communications and sharing: demonstration of how the learning is being?applied in a particular context.
  • Achievements and assessments: presentation of achievements, identification of?learning needs and constructing an educational action plan to address future assessments.

Interprofessional learning

Interprofessional practice is an essential part of working as a doctor.

Doctor of Medicine (MD) students have multiple experiences in interprofessional learning to prepare for professional practice.  

Student knowledge and experience of other health professionals is assessed in the MD portfolio. Student knowledge of and involvement in multidisciplinary teams is also an essential learning experience to prepare students for interprofessional practice on graduation.

In the MD program, initiatives where students learn with multidisciplinary teams include:

  • Ambulatory Care at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) (will include Pharmacy and possibly nursing students) (IMP3)
  • Palliative Care Attachment
  • Scholarly Activity: Units from the Masters in Health Professional Education, where they will learn from other participants from across the professions
  • Working with interprofessional teams in specific clinical attachments (Stroke Units, Cystic Fibrosis Team, Transplantation Team, and Diabetes Team).