Learning more from teaching medicine

Dr Kenneth Wills. Photo: Brenton Edwards

The short journey from student to teacher makes clear sense to Flinders University medical alumnus Dr Kenneth Wills (MAUD ’18, MD ’21). The Surgical Resident at Flinders Medical Centre is also an Associate Lecturer at Flinders, and he sees great value in combining the two duties.

“I really appreciate the convenience of being able to work and teach in the same location,” says Dr Wills. “Within the Flinders facility, there’s a melting pot of academics, clinicians and also the future generation of clinicians, all mixing in this one busy place. It’s a one-stop shop where you can be a clinician but can also give back in an educational sense, without having impossible burdens on your time, because it’s all literally a walk down the hallway.”

“I especially have to thank Associate Professor Nicola Dean in the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders, who has been an inspirational mentor. She has enabled me to balance work and teaching with time off during work hours. This made everything possible.”

Dr Wills enjoys the challenge of teaching, which he believes further informs his own practices through reinforcing essential knowledge.

“When I was an anatomy student, I had a big interest in making surgery the focus of my career, and this led to me doing some anatomy tutoring, which kept my knowledge fresh,” he says.

“By the time I’d finished my medical degree, I had probably gone over the anatomy course at least three times, and so I got asked to do anatomy tutoring for paramedic students and now lecturing as well. It seemed like a natural progression.”

Having graduated from Medicine at Flinders in 2021, after completing his Masters in Audiology in 2018, Dr Wills says he has found the bridge between clinical practice and teaching both easy to navigate and interesting.

“I believe you don’t truly understand a concept completely until you can explain it to someone else who is completely unfamiliar with it,” he says.

“It’s a worthwhile challenge to learn something yourself, then simplify it so that others can also build a sound knowledge towards becoming a functioning clinician.”

He applies this approach to his own clinical practice, especially when trying to explain medical details clearly to patients.

“Having the ability to be succinct and clear when you explain medical details is an important skill, and teaching has certainly helped me to improve in this area,” says Dr Wills.

“I’m aware of patients being frustrated by some doctors’ bedside manner, and I think it’s something we can focus on to change. Patients certainly appreciate being more clearly informed, because then they make better decisions about their own health care.”

Maintaining close ties to the world of study and research will also fuel Dr Wills’ long-term ambitions as a surgeon. “I’m currently rotating through various surgical specialties, but I’ve become particularly interested in plastic surgery, especially trauma reconstructions,” says Dr Wills. “There’s now lots of research to be done by me in this area, plus the training program and getting more hands-on experience as a clinician. My journey of learning in medicine continues.”

Learn more about teaching at Flinders Flinders.edu.au/career-streams

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2023 MPH Alumni Magazine College of Medicine and Public Health Health Medicine

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