Behind-the-Scenes with the MMSA Teaching Awards

On Feb. 26, the annual MMSA Teaching Awards were held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. This event is a highlight time after time due to the hard work of many throughout the school year. The Rady Register caught up with Meredith Chiu, a second-year medical student who helped make the awards another great success in 2020. She let us know what Teaching Awards are all about and how we as students can contribute to celebrating our teachers. 


What are the MMSA Teaching Awards?

“The MMSA Teaching Awards are annual awards given by the Med 2s, 3s, and 4s to thank their teachers from the past year. The pre-clerkship awards are given for the teachers deemed the most inspiring, most innovative, the best mentor, and the best teacher in small group settings. There is also an award for the best course and an award from the Med 2 class for the best Rural Week preceptor. This year we added an award for a BSc (Med) preceptor given by the Med 3 class. The clerkship awards are given to residents and attendings for their professionalism, clinical reasoning, patient advocacy, and mentorship.”


Why are the MMSA Teaching Awards important?

“I believe that these awards are important as our instructors give so much of their time to us to help foster our learning as we go through medical school. These awards are the students’ chance to thank the instructors who went above and beyond, who took the time to share advice and help us, and to the instructors who made a difference and stood out.”


How are teachers nominated and selected for these awards?

“Every year we send out a survey to the student body; the survey contains all of the names of their instructors from the last year. From this list we ask students to select the instructors who they would like to nominate for the different awards. These votes are then tallied by the committee and the instructor with the most votes in a category receives the award.

For the more specialized awards, such as the Rural Week preceptor and BSc (Med) preceptor awards, we ask students to include a short descriptor as to why they think their preceptor deserves the award. Then, in the case of a tie, the descriptors are anonymized and the committee votes for who they believe should get the award.”


What makes a good teacher?

“I believe that there are many different qualities that go into making a good teacher, and many people are good teachers for different reasons. What stands out to me is the ability to help condense tricky information and communicate what we need to know, the ability to engage a classroom to participate and ask questions, and the willingness to answer our questions – both with regard to the material and to help guide our decisions about our careers in medicine.”


What is special about the teachers we have at the University of Manitoba?

“We are so blessed by the variety of instructors we have, and the one-on-one interactions we are able to have with our attendings and residents. I feel that the instructors truly care about our learning and want to help us be successful on our path to becoming physicians.”


How do you think these awards impact the way we teach at the University of Manitoba?

“I believe that these awards provide some needed “keep it up” messaging to our hardworking teachers. Everyone who is nominated receives a certificate to congratulate them. As we see so many teachers and attendings in a year, these awards are a chance to communicate the fact that they made a difference to someone, and a chance to say thank you.”


What were some highlights from this year’s event?

“This year we were fortunate to host the event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights for a second year in a row. Additionally, we had an amazing keynote address from Dr. Kevin Patterson, a U of M alum from 1985. He spoke about the importance of physician courage, and how courage looks in different scenarios.”


Where do you see the MMSA Teaching Awards going in the next few years? 

“In the next few years we are hoping to increase student participation and to continue to make adjustments to the survey delivery to make it convenient for students to make nominations.”


Why did you choose to get involved with the MMSA Teaching Awards?

“I have been blessed by fantastic instructors throughout my schooling. These are people whose guidance and kind words stick with me as I continue through different schools and paths. I wanted to get involved with the MMSA Teaching Awards because I know the impact a good teacher can have on someone’s learning and life. I wanted to help facilitate the way our students thank and appreciate the instructors we meet in medical school.”


How can other students get involved?

“The most important way students can get involved is by filling out their survey. A lot of work goes into organizing it, and we truly appreciate the students who take the time to nominate the instructors who stood out to them. Without the nominations from the student body we cannot host the awards. 

Additionally, if students see a need for an award, a gap in what the current awards cover, the Teaching Awards committee would be happy to listen and try to incorporate that need into the next year’s awards!”


Thanks to Meredith and all of the other students who helped organize the MMSA Teaching Awards! We’re fortunate to have committed students put all of the time and energy into making this event possible. See you there next year!




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