I worked as a teaching fellow at Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) for 9 months from 1 October 2020 to 30 June 2021. During my teaching fellowship, I lived at EcoNest which is located quite close to NUMed. Here, I am sharing my experience working as a NUMed teaching fellow. In this post, I will be using a two-letter pseudonym to refer to each particular person.
I received the offer for the teaching fellow post on 25 September. There were 7 teaching fellows for the 2020/2021 academic year, me, LG, GC, NR, TM, AL and KT. TM was on the 3-month contract while the rest of us were on the 9-month contract. Unlike the previous years, the teaching fellows this year wouldn't be offered the Postgraduate Certificate of Medical Education (PGCertMedEd) as the programme was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On 30 September, I met a lecturer for Year 3 EoCP induction.
I started the teaching fellow job officially on 1 October. The 1st week was mainly induction sessions. On 2 October, I went to Hospital Sultan Ismail to help coordinate the first hospital visit of the Year 3 students. I began delivering teaching on 5 October. At that time, I was adapting well to my teaching fellow post. From 5 to 22 October, I delivered only 2 sessions, spirometry skills session and orthopaedics skills session. Both were Year 3 EoCP sessions taught in small groups at the NUMed campus. Every day, I delivered the same session 3 times to different groups of students.
At that time, I wasn't close to my colleagues as I didn't know them well. Still, I would talk to them whenever we met on campus, and occasionally we would have lunch together at the NUMed Garden Café. On 14 October, my NUMed staff email was activated. The delay was due to a cyber attack that Newcastle University was suffering from at that time. On 16 October, the office for teaching fellows was ready. I was in the same office room as LG, GC, NR and TM. I didn't quite like the office as it's a bit old. Instead, I preferred to go to the NUMed library.
On 19 October, NUMed informed that teaching fellows could apply for Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) or Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). I and my colleagues were interested to apply, as it would be a good alternative to the PGCertMedEd which we couldn't get. To get the AFHEA or FHEA, we had to complete a written assignment. The FHEA is of higher level than the AFHEA, but is significantly more difficult.
On 22 October, I submitted my UK Foundation Programme (UKFP) application. On 25 October, my friend IL passed me my MBBS certificate which she helped me to collect previously. From 26 to 28 October, I delivered the EoCP acute care simulation session and orthopaedics skills session. During a session on 28 October, one of the students kept laughing while the other students weren't engaging well, which made me feel a bit annoyed.
I received my first salary from NUMed on 28 October, which felt so good. On 29 October, I submitted my application for Foundation Priority Programme (FPP) of UKFP. On 30 October, I, LG, GC, NR and TM filmed a tutorial video for an upcoming Year 1 session. After we were done, they invited me to join them for lunch at The Tribus @ Puteri Harbour and I agreed. That was my first time going out with my colleagues, and it brought me closer to them.
The start of November marked some significant changes to my teaching fellowship experience. Year 3 EoCP had just ended, which would be followed by MACS. Only LG, GC, NR and TM were involved in the teaching for MACS, while I would be teaching Year 1 and Year 2 moving forward. The Year 1 and Year 2 sessions were supposed to be a mix of online and face-to-face sessions. However, Johor Bahru became a Covid-19 red zone at that time. As a result, face-to-face sessions at NUMed were no longer allowed and all sessions had to be moved online.
For the first 2 days, I delivered the virtual hospital visit debriefing sessions. The sessions were quite boring and I didn't have much to talk about. From 4 to 10 November, I delivered several sessions on hearing loss. Although those sessions were interesting, I very much preferred to deliver them face-to-face. I and my colleagues had planned to deliver Written Skills Examination (WriSkE) practice sessions for the Year 3 and Year 4 students, but we had to scrap the plan due to suspension of face-to-face teaching. Instead, I shared a compilation of WriSkE resources with the students.
I chose to deliver many of the online sessions from my office as the internet connection there is very stable. At that time, I began to like my office a lot and I went there quite often. There was a focus group discussion on 6 November where I and my colleagues gave our feedback about the NUMed MBBS programme based on our experiences. On 7 November, I and colleagues had a dinner with a senior lecturer at Alam Seafood Restaurant. SF, a teaching fellow from the previous year, joined us as well.
On 8 November, Johor Bahru ceased to be a red zone. However, the government had decided to implement the Conditional MCO (CMCO) in Johor. Under CMCO, no face-to-face sessions were allowed and students also weren't allowed to use the NUMed library, but staff members could still enter the NUMed campus. On 11 November, I delivered a Malay language support session for the international students. On the week from 16 to 20 November, I had no sessions at all. I felt quite bored and I really wished I could teach Year 3 MACS.
On 21 November, the CMCO in Johor ended and the number of active Covid-19 cases in Johor Bahru was close to 0. With that, face-to-face sessions at NUMed could resume on 23 November and I was so delighted. Unfortunately, the number of new Covid-19 cases in Johor Bahru increased rapidly right after that. Just a few days later, Johor Bahru was a red zone again and face-to-face sessions once again had to stop. I didn't have the opportunity to deliver any face-to-face sessions during that period of time, as I was only involved in 2 online sessions on 23 and 24 November.
Around that time, several clinical teaching fellows (CTFs) from UK started working at NUMed. Between November and December, I delivered 2 online revision sessions for the Year 3 students. On 26 November, I attended a support session for AFHEA and FHEA. I decided to apply for AFHEA during the April 2021 submission period. Starting from 30 November, I was quite busy again as I had online teaching sessions on several days every week. As a teaching fellow, I like being busy. I had become quite close to my colleagues at that time and we often went out for lunch or dinner together.
As the number of new Covid-19 cases in Johor Bahru kept increasing, I had to accept the reality that face-to-face sessions at NUMed wouldn't be allowed anytime soon. I decided to embrace online sessions and I aimed to deliver them as best as I could. On 7 December, the CMCO was reimplemented in Johor Bahru. Unlike the previous CMCO, both students and staff members were allowed to enter the NUMed campus to use the facilities. Strangely enough, interstate travel was allowed for the whole country except for areas under Enhanced MCO.
On 5 December, I and my colleagues had a dinner with the CTFs at The Spice Kitchen. Despite being in Johor Bahru for more than 6 years, that was my first time going to The Spice Kitchen. Throughout November and December, most of the sessions I delivered were history taking and clinical reasoning sessions for Year 1 and Year 2. I also delivered a few advanced communication sessions for Stage 5 P4P. I really enjoyed delivering all those sessions. Based on the teaching evaluation I received, most of my students liked my teaching as well.
On 11 December, AL missed out on a session he was scheduled to deliver due to some issues with the timetable. As I was delivering the same session with another group of students, I told his group of students to join my session. On that afternoon, there was a support session for teaching fellows on Teaching and Learning in Classroom. I and KT voted to have the session face-to-face, GC and NR voted to have it online, while LG, TM and AL didn't vote, resulting in a 2 vs 2 tie. Later, KT defected and voted for online instead, breaking the tie. In the end, the session was carried out online.
On 17 December, I took the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) for UKFP. The SJT was held online through remote proctoring and I used a computer at the NUMed campus. On 18 December, I marked the online Year 1 oral presentation. That was the last day of the 1st semester and TM's teaching fellow post came to an end. There was 2 weeks of winter break from 19 December to 3 January, during which the NUMed campus was closed. I returned to my hometown for the break.
The 2nd semester of my teaching fellowship began on 4 January. In January, the Year 1 and Year 2 students were having exams so there weren't any teaching sessions for them. On the 1st week, I delivered 2 Prescribing Safety Assessment sessions for Stage 5. On the 2nd week, I conducted online interviews for a few students who were applying to study MBBS at NUMed. On 15 January, I helped perform a test run of the online surgical bad-day-on-call session planned by the CTFs for Stage 5. The CTFs gave me valuable feedback on my performance during the session.
The MCO 2.0 was implemented on 13 January due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in Malaysia. Under MCO 2.0, face-to-face sessions were allowed for medical students undergoing clinical training. Students were also allowed to use the NUMed library, but staff members had to request for permission in order to enter campus. NUMed allowed me to deliver online sessions from my office after I explained that the internet connection at EcoNest wasn't very stable.
On 19 and 20 January, I was involved in the Stage 5 surgery acute care simulation session as a simulated patient. That was my first face-to-face session since 28 October. On 21 January, I delivered an online session on History of Medicine for the Foundation students. On the following week, I marked the Year 1 and Year 2 Short Answer Paper (SAP) exams. The exams and the marking were both done online.
On 2 February, I started delivering teaching sessions for Year 1 and Year 2. Clinical skills sessions were conducted face-to-face while clinical reasoning and history taking sessions were conducted online. There were several replacement sessions for the clinical skills sessions that couldn't be held face-to-face in the previous semester. I was so glad to meet my Year 1 and Year 2 students in person for the first time after having taught them entirely online in the previous semester. On 4 February, I marked the online oral presentation for the Foundation students.
The Chinese New Year was on 12 February. I couldn't return to my hometown as interstate travel wasn't allowed under the MCO 2.0 . Dining in at restaurants was allowed at that time, so I celebrated the Chinese New Year by going to several restaurants for my lunch and dinner. As I didn't have any red shirts, I went to AEON Bukit Indah to buy one. I bought Chinese New Year cards and gave them to my colleagues. On 15 February, I attended the OSCE examiner training session.
A few of my batch mates created the Come Together (CT) programme to help the Stage 5 students in their preparation for final exams and I decided to join it. Under the CT programme, I would be mentoring 2 students. Around that time, replacement sessions for Year 3 MACS were scheduled. I and my colleagues were supposed to deliver those sessions, but NUMed later decided to let the CTFs take over the sessions. As a result, we were no longer involved in teaching Year 3.
On 19 February, I marked the online Year 2 oral presentation. On 23 February, I, LG and GC had lunch together for the first time since December and we had a long chat. On 27 February, I and my colleagues had dinner at Rosmarino Italian Restaurant. At that time, we had become very close. Between February and March, I delivered a total of 5 online lectures for Year 1, which were Understanding Asthma, Drugs Used in the Respiratory System, Treatment of Asthma & COPD, Antibiotic Resistance and Skin & Systemic Diseases.
I took over the eye examination session from NR on 4 March as I really wished to teach eye examination. On 5 March, the MCO 2.0 ended and was replaced with the CMCO. With that, staff members were no longer required to seek permission to enter the NUMed campus, while face-to-face sessions were still allowed at NUMed. Around that time, I, LG, GC and NR chose to participate in a research project led by our senior lecturer. Our role would be to perform data analysis. I, LG and GC went for lunch at 安记酿豆腐 in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah on 11 March.
On 11 March, the UKFP allocation was out. I got allocated to Northern Foundation School which was my 1st choice. However, my application for the FPP was unsuccessful. My SJT score was 35.5 out of 50. Coincidentally, I was told to do the hospital selection for the Malaysian house officer programme through the e-Housemen system on the next day. As I wanted to complete my teaching fellowship first, I chose to defer the start of my house officer training by 6 months.
On 13 March, I and my colleagues jointly conducted an online MOSLER practice session for our mentees in the CT programme. On that night, we had dinner at Carabao Restaurant, where we jointly celebrated me, LG and AL's birthdays. GC offered to let me take over her mental health seminar on 18 March as she would be delivering a webinar on Orthopaedics for the NUMed Medical Education Society, which I gladly accepted.
On 21 March, I, LG and GC went to Mount Austin to meet up with our friend NB and we had dinner together. I had not seen NB for quite some time and I was happy to meet her. On 22 March, I and my colleagues filmed several tutorial videos for the upcoming Year 2 sessions. My birthday is on 23 March. Many of my friends wished me, including all of my colleagues, several of my 2015-2020 batch mates and several of my students. On 24 March, I met a few Year 1 students to do the sign-offs for their clinical skills.
On 26 March, LG was having dinner with a few Year 2 students at a restaurant near EcoNest and he invited me to join them. I had a great conversation with my students, enabling me to know them better. When walking back to EcoNest, we coincidentally met a few Year 1 students and they said hi to us. After that, I started getting a lot of followers on Instagram from my Year 1 and Year 2 students and I followed all of them back. There were 2 weeks of Easter break from 27 March to 11 April. I didn't return to my hometown as interstate travel was still not allowed.
On 28 March and 3 April, I delivered online sessions on IV Fluid Management and Acute Red Eye for Stage 5 students under the CT programme. The NUMed library remained open throughout the break and I went there almost every day. I was busy writing my AFHEA assignment. I also did the statistical analysis for the research project I and my colleagues participated in, using R software which I learnt during my SSC1 in Stage 4. I let NR take over my Increased Intracranial Pressure and Brain Death lecture on 14 April as she was really interested in delivering it.
I delivered the Basic First Aid session for Year 1 on 14 and 15 April. On 16 April, I and my colleagues had a very long conversation at our office and we skipped lunch. I, LG and GC then went for a heavy dinner at Spiced Mala Hotpot on that evening. The AMSA Medical Myth Quiz was held on 17 April for the Year 1 and Year 2 students. I and LG contributed many questions for the quiz. After the quiz, we provided the explanation for each question to the participants. On 18 April, I finally completed and submitted my AFHEA assignment.
On 20 April, I and my colleagues jointly conducted the 2nd online MOSLER practice session for our mentees. On 22 April, I delivered a session on knee and foot examination. As foot examination wasn't actually in the Year 2 learning outcomes, the students were only required to feel for the bony structures in the feet. However, I felt there was no point in just learning that, so I decided to teach my students the foot examination in full. While they acknowledged that it's difficult, they still performed it quite well.
At that time, I decided to apply for FHEA during the next submission period. One of the CTFs had strongly encouraged me to go for it. Although I knew it's difficult, I wanted to give it a try. On 23 April, I delivered a session on sensory and motor examination. The session was supposed to last 2 hours, but as the examination is really long, it took me 2 hours 30 minutes to finish. Right after that, I had another online session which I had to delay the start by 30 minutes. Thankfully, it didn't clash with the students' timetables.
For the next sensory and motor examination session on 26 April, I tried to save time by telling my students to watch the tutorial video beforehand, but the session still went overtime by 15 minutes and the lab technician got quite annoyed about that. There was one more sensory and motor examination session on 27 April. This time, I used a different strategy and managed to finish the session within 2 hours. AL still hadn't finish the session when the 2 hours was up, so I took one of his students to help save time.
Around that time, my colleagues remarked that one of the shirts I wore had a few holes on it. They advised me to stop wearing it, but I told them that I really liked the shirt. They then decided to give me a makeover by getting me a new shirt. On 25 April, I and my colleagues went to Oriental Kopi in Johor Jaya for breakfast followed by JWC for lunch. We then went to Mid Valley Southkey where my colleagues chose 2 really nice shirts for me. On that evening, we had dinner at 豪享痴卤肉饭. It was a really interesting outing.
During the abdominal examination and cardiovascular examination sessions on 28 and 29 April, my students requested to take photos with me and I gladly agreed. On 28 April, I and LG conducted an acute care simulation practice session for our CT programme mentees. On 29 April, I took over the clinical reasoning in bowel disease session from AL and KT. On that night, I and my colleagues had dinner with a senior lecturer at Carabao Restaurant. I love my teaching fellow job so much and at that time, I made the firm decision to pursue Medical Education in the future.
I delivered an online lecture on Nutrition in Elderly for Year 2 on 4 May. I played badminton with LG, KT, AL and the CTFs at the EduCity Sports Complex on 5 May. On 6 May, I, LG and GC had dinner together at Oven & Fried Chicken. That was our last outing before the MCO 3.0 was implemented on 7 May. Under the MCO 3.0, dining in at restaurants wasn't allowed. Face-to-face sessions were still allowed for medical students undergoing clinical training, while staff members had to request for permission to enter the NUMed campus.
On 7 May, there was a face-to-face session on Falls in the Elderly, which I and my colleagues had been planning for weeks. The session provided the Year 2 students with MOSLER style practice. I chose to take over the clinical reasoning in genetic disorders session on 10 May, as I really liked genetics. I was an examiner for the Year 2 OSCE on 11 and 12 May. On 15 May, I, LG and GC conducted an online Q&A session for Stage 5 students under the CT programme, as they would be having their final exams soon. On 17 May, I was informed that my AFHEA application had been successful.
My last ever face-to-face session was on 18 May. Around that time, I received teaching evaluation from the Year 1, Year 2 and Stage 5 students, who gave me very positive feedback. On 20 May, I marked the Year 2 SAP exam. The exam was paper-based but the marking was done online. GC bought some pastries for me and LG on that day and it was really good. From 24 to 27 May, I delivered online sessions on Urine Dipstick for Year 2 TCBL. On 27 May, I marked the Year 1 SAP exam. Throughout May, I regularly conducted online MOSLER practice sessions for my CT programme mentees.
On 1 June, the Full MCO was implemented. Under the Full MCO, entry into the NUMed campus by students and staff members was only allowed for exam purposes. Since then, I didn't have the opportunity to meet GC and NR in person again. On 2 June, I withdrew from the UKFP. I took over the online TCBL Mock Round session on 4 June from one of the CTFs. During the session, I conducted a case-based discussion on heart failure with my students. That was my last ever teaching session.
On 8 June, it was the Year 3 Exemption OSCE and I volunteered to be a simulated patient. On 16 June, I marked the online oral presentation for the Foundation students. That was my 4th time marking oral presentations. During the Year 4 MOSLER on 22 and 23 June, I once again was one of the simulated patients. That was officially my last session as a teaching fellow. Between June and July, I and my colleagues had several meetings through Zoom.
The final exam results for Stage 5 was released on 23 June. Both my CT programme mentees passed Stage 5 and I was so happy about that. However, before they could graduate, they had to replace the hospital assistantships they missed out previously due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I went to my office on that day and left a message for the future teaching fellows.
Around that time, I started writing my FHEA assignment. It turned out to be not as difficult as I had expected. On 25 June, I finally received my AFHEA certificate. On 26 June, I had an online discussion session with my CT programme mentees about the teaching fellowship application. My teaching fellowship contract ended on 30 June. I got the permission to enter the NUMed campus on that day to take out my personal belongings from my office. I definitely felt very emotional about that.
I continued staying at EcoNest until the end of July. On 6 July, the teaching fellowship application for the next academic year opened. Both my CT programme mentees were applying and I wrote a reference for them. On 13 July, I completed and submitted my FHEA assignment. The outcome of my FHEA application would only be known in November. On 22 July, I went to Persada Johor International Convention Centre to receive my first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. The only adverse effect I experienced was feeling lethargic.
On 1 August, I moved out of EcoNest and returned to my hometown. After staying at EcoNest for 3 years, I finally had to leave permanently, which made me feel very emotional. My NUMed staff email was disabled on 2 August, which marked the end of my teaching fellowship at NUMed. On 9 August, both my CT programme mentees were offered the teaching fellow post for the 2021/2022 academic year and I was so glad to know that. They started their teaching fellow job on 16 August.
I definitely had a very great experience working as a teaching fellow at NUMed. It surely is my most favourite year out of my 7 years at NUMed. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I delivered as a teaching fellow, as I love interacting and sharing my knowledge with my students. My teaching fellow colleagues are truly sincere in friendship, and we spent a lot of good time together. I am extremely grateful to NUMed for giving me the opportunity to be a teaching fellow. The imperfection of my teaching fellowship was the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to face-to-face teaching. However, the online sessions I delivered were still quite fun. I will always remember all the memories I had throughout my teaching fellowship. I hope that not too far in the future, I will be able to return to NUMed as a lecturer.
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