Accessibility is key to connect with learners

Jessica Foulds seeks to increase interaction with learners

Tamara Vineberg - 15 April 2019

Jessica Foulds wants learners to know it's easy to approach her with their questions, opinions and ideas. The assistant professor in the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine finds increased interaction with medical students and residents results in their growth as learners.

"When it comes to lectures with my students, I always tell them if there's something we haven't touched on that they are trying to understand I want to hear from you about it. I try and think from the perspective of the student. I look for ways to innovate with teaching that will help them grow and help them for future practice," says Foulds.

Not only does she challenge them to develop their knowledge and skills, Foulds sees the relationship as a two-way street. "They always inspire me to stay on top of the current evidence. I find that students are especially good at asking a lot of questions about the process and the physiology. They keep you on your toes," she says.Her method of supporting learners garnered Foulds a Top 10 Teachers Award in 2018.

Teaching wasn't her first goal. When she was a resident, she gained experience teaching medical students through review sessions and lectures. A more structured opportunity arose when one of the faculty in the Department of Pediatrics retired and Foulds began to teach students more. She carried this beyond residency with a mixed practice with clinical and education focus.

She was originally drawn to the University of Alberta because the residency program provided a range of subspecialties. "I loved how patients come from a broad reaching geography and the patient population we see here is unique. I was interested in both acute care and complex care," says Foulds. "There was that personal feel to it. That really appealed to me."

The program was also small enough that people would know her name. That personal touch continues as she interacts with the learners she teaches.