Top tertiary teacher – adding humanity into teaching medicine

The teaching, academic, strategic and diplomatic powerhouse Faumuina Fa’afetai Sopoaga won the $30,000 award at Ako Aotearoa’s recent Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

The Associate Professor and Division of Health Sciences’ Associate Dean (Pacific) was also the first recipient of the Endorsement for Supporting Pacific Learner Success.

Faumuina Fa’afetai Sopoaga

The award was in recognition of the huge difference Sopoaga has made to how Pacific Health is taught at Otago Medical School and across all the health sciences at the University of Otago; as well as helping all medical students to ‘better doctor’ in our multi-cultural society.

Otago Medical School dean Professor Peter Crampton described her contribution to Pacific curriculum development and to the academic and pastoral care of Pacific students as “truly exceptional”.

Sopoaga developed a successful programme for strengthening students’ clinical skills when working with Pacific patients. The Pacific Health Day has enabled 80 fifth year medical students to conduct basic screening health checks for the Pacific community.

And in a world first – she led developments resulting in a division-wide Pacific health curriculum endorsed in 2016, with the same learning outcomes for medicine, physiotherapy, dentistry, pharmacy and across health sciences programmes.