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07 Feb 2019

Learn Heal Teach - San Doctors sharing their skills for future generations

Nine years since its establishment and official opening by NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir, and with over 120 enrolled medical students, the San’s onsite Clinical School of The University of Sydney is helping educate healthcare practitioners of the future.

Associate Professor Michael Hughes is Acting Head of the Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School of the University of Sydney after joining in 2010 as an Associate Professor of Surgery, one of the foundation group of academic appointments at the School.

In this article Associate Professor Hughes provides insights into the School and its collaborative structure with Avondale Collage of Higher Education which trains nurses. Other students who have the opportunity to learn onsite include physiotherapists and allied health professionals. As a teaching hospital, the San attracts expertise and encourages excellence and innovation.


The San's Associate Professor Michael Hughes (far left) and Professor Henry Woo (far right) with 2018 Medical School Graduates



Did you know that Sydney Adventist Hospital is a University of Sydney Teaching Hospital?

What is a “Teaching Hospital”?

A Teaching Hospital is a hospital that has made a major commitment to the education and training of health professionals and a major commitment to medical research through affiliation with major tertiary education institutions. Within a teaching hospital are ‘schools’ with dedicated professional and academic staff. At the San we also have a purpose-built stand-alone Clinical Education Centre (CEC) with state-of-the-art facilities including the Simulation Learning Centre that allows a real-life, hands-on training experience. The CEC is a shared facility, and is home to staff and students of the University of Sydney, Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School (SAHCS) and Avondale College of Higher Education. It has also become the focus for many of the Hospital’s education, training and outreach activities.

What does this mean for patients and staff?

It has long been recognised that teaching hospitals deliver the highest quality evidence based clinical care because the teaching and research environment encourages excellence, collegiality, innovation and a high level of personal and institutional accountability. Teaching hospitals attract the best clinicians, educators and researchers.

On a day-to-day basis this means that University of Sydney medical students are on the wards and in the operating theatres, the Delivery Suite, and in AMO Clinics – in short, everywhere! You will see them alongside nursing students, and students in many other clinical professions, such as physiotherapy and pharmacy. Medical students in their first years of training spend a few days a week at the Hospital as they learn to interact with patients, developing the clinical skills of communication, history taking and physical examination. They are also strongly encouraged to spend time on the wards working with the nursing staff and visiting patients independently, as they come to realise that our Hospital is a 168-hour per week opportunity for them to learn, heal and in turn teach. The rest of their week is spent on the main University campus in Camperdown.

Our senior students spend most of their week at the San working with our medical and surgical teams. The students are encouraged to involve themselves as much as possible in patient care.

The Hospital’s research activity means that patients may be involved in a variety of research activities including clinical trials (which is how, for example, new cancer treatments are tested and adopted), innovative techniques and quality assurance projects. All research activities here have to be approved by a formally constituted Ethics Committee.

Since the days of Hippocrates (and possibly well before) doctors and other health professionals have accepted the responsibility and honour of teaching those who are following behind them.

This “on the job” education is a vital part of the training of the next generation of doctors. As Sir William Osler, one of the founders of modern medicine, including the system of interns, residents and registrars wrote, “To study the phenomenon of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.”

Osler understood the whole of our mission - Osler also said during an address at Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the most famous teaching hospitals in the world, which he co-founded: “The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest, and not inferior to either in her mission.”

Please welcome all our students when you see them around our Hospital!

A/Prof T. Michael Hughes
Surgical Oncologist (Breast, Melanoma, Sarcoma and Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer)
Associate Professor of Surgery, Acting Head of School
Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School, The University of Sydney
Head of Department of General Surgery and Associated Subspecialties and
Chair of Surgical Services Committee Sydney Adventist Hospital
Chairman Section of Surgical Oncology, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons


The Clinical Education Centre 

Clinical Education centre opening

Associate Professor Michael Hughes with medical students

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