Westmead director receives prestigious award for junior doctor training

Westmead Hospital director of prevocational education and training Dr Andrew Baker.

Junior doctors know they’re in good hands with their trainer at Westmead Hospital – so much so they’ve named him best in the state.

Dr Andrew Baker, director of prevocational education and training, has received the Geoff Marel Award for substantial contributions to the education and support of prevocational trainees. Nominations for this annual award are made exclusively by junior medical officers (JMOs).

Prevocational trainees are young doctors (interns and junior residents) in their first few years after graduation, before they commit to specialising in a particular field of medicine.

Dr Baker said he simply aims to do his best each day.

“Although I’m grateful for the recognition, I’m just one part of a large team of dedicated staff who all consider the development of junior doctors to be an important aspect of their role,” Dr Baker said.

“I’ve always been drawn to working with JMOs. They are highly accomplished individuals, but early on, are often inexperienced in navigating complex hospital organisations.

“My role is more predominantly pastoral. I am here for their professional and career development, as well as their wellbeing. I’m available at any time for issues, which range from education to interview preparation, dealing with bullying, administrative processes and even personal matters.”

Dr Baker is now the NSW nominee for the Australia & New Zealand Clinical Educator of the Year Award.

Dr Baker started the role in 2011, having previously been director of Medical Services at Westmead Hospital and deputy director of Clinical Governance for the Western Sydney Area Health Service (before it became a Local Health District).

During his time, he has seen cultural shifts including rising numbers of older graduates and an increasing focus on the improvement of JMO wellbeing.

Among his favourite memories is helping a mature-age intern who had previously worked as a doctor overseas.

“Overseas-trained doctors often have great difficulty progressing in the Australian system,” Dr Baker explained.

“This particular doctor had working for some time as a ward clerk at Westmead before being appointed to a clinical role. I thought she would struggle because of her time out of the medical workforce, not to mention the language and cultural barriers. But with good supervision, encouragement and her own perseverance she has become a very successful GP, and often writes to let to me know how she’s going.”

Dr Baker joins chief medical adviser Dr Ros Crampton and Dr Peter Landau as WSLHD staff to receive the award.

He is now also the NSW nominee for the Australia & New Zealand Clinical Educator of the Year Award with the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils (CPMEC).