Professor Michael Baigent is Head of Flinders Psychological Therapy Services (Centre for Anxiety and Related Disorders, IAPT@flinders, Statewide Gambling Therapy Services) and a Senior Specialist with Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia.
We thank Michael for his extensive contributions to teaching Flinders medical students over three decades, including current roles as MD3 OSCE Clinical Lead for Mental Health, lecturer, tutor, Team Based Learning (TBL) facilitator, clinical placement supervisor and Advanced Studies research supervisor. He guides medical students through Object Based Learning (OBL) during visits to the Flinders University Museum of Art (FUMA), supporting them to develop “self-awareness, capacity for reflection, empathy, cultural awareness, powers of observation and an ability to relate complexity” which are all required for professional practice but not easily taught using traditional methods. Read more
How long have you been involved with the Flinders medical course?
I’ve been involved with the Flinders medical course for thirty years since I began as a specialist in the Department of Psychiatry in 1993. I’ve been active in teaching, curriculum development, and examining. Back then our department was headed by Professor Ross Kalucy, who was an eminent psychiatrist and esteemed foundation chair. He inspired many students to ultimately enter training in psychiatry from the earliest years of the medical course. He emphasised that the department and indeed Flinders Medical Centre was not just a clinical service but also academic, requiring us to provide clinical care, teach, and conduct research. We were responsible for the entire psychiatry component and I had involvement across pre-clinical and clinical years. I was also a visiting psychiatrist to the Riverland when Professor Paul Worley established the PRCC (rural stream for medical students) and used to have students sitting in with me when I visited. I now work with at least two psychiatrists who were students then in the Riverland from the first two years of this who then specialised in psychiatry. They are now senior consultants working in our service. Although I stopped visiting the Riverland in about 2004, I continued regular teaching visits for the Flinders medical students twice a year and still do this to the more recent regional teaching centres in South Australia. In the later 1990s, when the university moved from an undergraduate course to a postgraduate course it required a period of dedicated hard work to build the new curriculum. I really enjoyed collaborating with the academics in the medical school from the pre-clinical years such as, genetics, physiology and anatomy, to develop problem based learning approaches and other aspects of the course. Teaching a range of non psychiatrist tutors about the psychiatric content so they could then be a PBL tutor was fun. This has been superseded now of course but it laid the groundwork for many of the contemporary teaching approaches.
When you first became involved with the Flinders medical course, what initial impressions made you proud?
I was proud of the attitude amongst the hospital clinicians that we were a teaching hospital and had a responsibility to the community and medical students, to contribute, oversee and ensure that the students were taught appropriate theory and learnt its application in a clinical environment. As Professor Kalucy instilled in us in the Department, we were part of a village conceptually that encompassed the hospital and medical school.
What do you enjoy most about your role/s in the Flinders medical course?
I have learnt about myself that I like variety and being involved in the course certainly provides that. It compliments clinical work and research. I have always enjoyed interacting with bright minds interested in medicine, helping them to learn how to become a doctor and to consider research in their practice. I get a thrill from seeing the students graduate into doctors and then when I get the opportunity, to see what they go on to accomplish and how they progress. It is fantastic to see their names out there, or work alongside them as colleagues in the hospital and beyond. Additionally, I appreciate the broader setting in which I work, collaborating with other academics.
Tell us about a peak experience or high point with the Flinders medical course. This would be a time when you felt most alive, most engaged, or really proud of yourself or your work. What was it about you, the situation, the organisation, and the leadership that allowed that peak experience to emerge?
There have been many such experiences. One that comes to mind relates to a student who I first met during tutorial sessions for one of the rural student streams. He was an interested curious fellow. I recall that I was not surprised when he won the WA Cramond Prize in Psychiatry for the highest academic results. After some time, I crossed paths with him again at a RANZCP College awards ceremony where he was awarded the Maddison Medal, recognizing his exceptional performance throughout his RANZCP specialty training in psychiatry. In recent years he became a professor of psychiatry, serving as a stellar example of a Flinders graduate. It is a pleasure to watch his career progress. At the same time, I have experienced moments of pride when I have had the opportunity to be involved with a former student, who is now a practicing doctor, for personal or family reasons. After the consultation I could truly say that I was happy for that doctor to see a relative of mine! It is an interesting moment when the theoretical question of standard meets reality.
What do you value most about yourself, your work, and your contribution to the Flinders medical course?
I find great satisfaction in working at Flinders because it fosters a friendly environment that allows me to pursue rewarding work. I value practicing psychiatric medicine in a setting that allows me to provide clinical care of patients, and teach, and be involved in research advancing the field. Over the last decade I developed tutorials in the Flinders University Museum of Art. Through ‘object based learning’ it focusses on matters of professional development for doctors. The students find it worthwhile (although some feel conflicted if it is close to their exams!). It allows us to discuss topics that may not be covered in the course yet are relevant to becoming a fulfilled doctor. I have had the privilege to collaborate on other projects related to object based learning and I take great pleasure in the opportunities this has provided to relate with people from other areas of the university, particularly the FUMA. A notable highlight was presenting a paper on object-based learning for medical students at the RANZCP congress and subsequently conducting a workshop, where I ended up leading 50 psychiatrists (20 more than the intended capped number) from the Convention Centre to the FUMA art space, as it used to be located in the city.
When have you most felt like your work was part of a positive force in the world, when you felt an alignment among your principles, purpose, and practices? Tell a story about what you were doing.
I consider myself fortunate to have been involved with Beyond Blue, initially as the clinical advisor for six years and later as one of its Board of Directors for a decade. This opportunity allowed me to have a broader impact and influence. However, it was only possible because of what I had been doing and learned in my various roles at Flinders.
Share your reflections, or nominate a colleague for an appreciation post
Responses are encouraged from all academic and professional staff, Academic Status holders, clinicians and educators contributing to the Flinders MD.
- Share your reflections: Complete and submit this online questionnaire
- Prefer to respond via email? Send firstname.lastname@example.org your photo and reflections and/or responses to these questions:
- How long have you been involved with the Flinders medical course?
- When you first became involved with the Flinders medical course, what initial impressions made you proud?
- What do you enjoy most about your role/s in the Flinders medical course?
- Tell us about a peak experience or high point with the Flinders medical course. This would be a time when you felt most alive, most engaged, or really proud of yourself or your work. What was it about you, the situation, the organisation, and the leadership that allowed that peak experience to emerge?
- What do you value most about yourself, your work, and your contribution to the Flinders medical course?
- When have you most felt like your work was part of a positive force in the world, when you felt an alignment among your principles, purpose, and practices? Tell a story about what you were doing.