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Praise for a leader who gives back

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​Dr Ruth Hew

Praise for a leader who gives back

​Ruth Hew, an Emergency Medicine specialist at Sunshine Hospital’s Emergency Department, has won a prestigious national award for excellence in teaching.

Dr Hew received the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine’s Teaching Excellence Award for her work as a mentor and teacher to medical students, junior doctors and those seeking to specialise in emergency medicine.

The College’s citation praised Dr Hew for her altruistic contribution to others and for her innovative leadership in developing Emergency Medicine’s training and assessment system.
“Ruth has devoted an enormous amount of her own time to the advancement of emergency medicine education to the benefit of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, its trainees, and through this work, ultimately to the benefit of the communities of Australasia,” the citation said.

“. . . She is always prepared to state her case, often venturing into territory where others fear to tread: from discussions on major change at the level of Council of Education, and at committee level, to discussions with Directors of Emergency Medicine about frustrations with hospital administrators who may not always value emergency medicine education as passionately as Ruth, and with trainees about their career choice, their approach to work, learning or the exams.”

Dr Hew played a leading role in reviewing the College’s curriculum for the specialty of Emergency Medicine and helped introduce a new national curriculum for trainees in 2015.
The new curriculum was the product of eight years of work by Dr Hew and a large and dedicated group of her colleagues at the College. “The curriculum had never had a wholesale review before so we were really pleased to be able to introduce a milestone-based curriculum framework and an on-going workplace-based assessment program for trainees,” Dr Hew said.

She said she had been blessed with outstanding role models during her training at Western Health as a medical student and later when she trained to become a specialist in Emergency Medicine. She has been a consultant in Emergency Medicine at Western Health since 2001.

“Many of us in education end up here because of the great teachers and role models we’ve had, who inspire us to value education and to give back to the system – people like Joe Epstein, one of the fathers of Emergency Medicine, and great clinicians and teachers like Anne-Maree Kelly, Gary Lane, Trevor Jones and Graeme Thompson,” Dr Hew said.

The annual intake of medical interns recently arrived to take up new jobs at Western Health. Dr Hew’s advice to junior doctors is not to be afraid to speak up and ask questions of their senior colleagues, to take the opportunity to learn from their expertise. “The best thing you can do as a trainee is to confess your ignorance and ask someone for help,” she said. “If you don’t speak up and pretend you know the answer to something, your patient will be disadvantaged and you will not learn.”