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Australian Medical Students’ National Teaching Awards winners announced

26 Nov 2018

Media release

21 November 2018

Australian Medical Students’ National Teaching Awards winners announced

 The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), which represents the 17, 000 medical students in Australia, today announced the winners of the National Awards for Teaching Excellence.

 The AMSA National Awards are based on nominations from around the country, and represent students’ appreciation and recognition of teachers who have made an especially positive impact on their studies.

 AMSA President Alex Farrell said the AMSA National Awards are the highest honour bestowed on a teacher by medical students across Australia.

 “Although it is such an important part of the doctor’s role, the teaching culture across different hospitals varies widely,” Ms Farrell said.

 “Despite a recent focus and positive steps in the last few years, it is not unusual to hear reports of bullying, harassment, and teaching by humiliation.

 “AMSA is proud to encourage a positive teaching culture within medicine. These awards are a fantastic way of showing students’ gratitude and appreciation to their nominated clinicians,” Ms Farrell said.

 There are a number of award categories including excellence in teaching, in rural education; teaching by a junior doctor; and teaching by a member of an allied health profession. AMSA received more than 90 nominations across the four categories.

 The winner of the National Award for Teaching Excellence overall category was Dr Zafar Smith, an Emergency Medicine Physician from James Cook University. He was chosen as the winner for what students described as ‘completely revolutionising the ED teaching’ in their course, including creating additional learning aids like flash-cards, YouTube videos, and Kahoot quizzes to aid in their learning.


Australian Medical Students’ National Teaching Awards:

  • Excellence in Teaching: Dr Zafar Smith (James Cook University).
  • Excellence in rural education: Dr Elizabeth Kennedy (University of Melbourne).
  • Excellence in teaching by a junior doctor: Dr Kenneth Cho (University of Sydney and University of Western Sydney).
  • Excellence in teaching by a member of an allied health profession: Mr David Law (University of New South Wales).


Media contact

Victoria Cook


P: 0400636731



Winner of the AMSA National Award for Excellence in Teaching Dr Zafar Smith, (Centre of photo), with students from James Cook University

Quotes from students:

“Dr Smith has gone above and beyond teaching us Emergency Medicine in our 3rd year. He completely re-vamped the course making it much easier to learn and more enjoyable. Every single person I know has enjoyed his lectures, tutorials, and approachability. He uses interactive methods of teaching which engage the class, such as gosoapbox and kahoot quizzes to test us, and has even created a deck of cards with Emergency medicine case studies that we were all able to get our hands on and use for our exams. As this is his first year of coordinating and lecturing this course, he has outdone himself and, on behalf of Med 3 at James Cook University, we would like to recognise his efforts and generosity, and the fun spirit he has brought to sometimes difficult topics.”



Winner of the AMSA National Award for Excellence in Rural Education, Dr Elizabeth Kennedy (Left), with student Krystal Green (University of Melbourne, Goulburn Valley Region)

Quote from student:  

“Dr Kennedy has provided me with outstanding mentorship over 2018, cementing my passion for rural medicine [...]. She is consistently motivated to include students in the extracurriculars of the medical profession, including education events in the Goulburn Valley Region, attending Youth Forums regarding young women's health, and promoting student engagement in the community. She constantly provides me with the mentorship and support to strive for more, and to be the kind of person and doctor that is needed in a rural area. She constantly gives her medical knowledge, emotional support, and more to her patients, and I learn from her each and every day.”



Winner of the Junior Doctor Teaching Award, Dr Kenneth Cho (University of Sydney and Western Sydney University, Nepean Hospital) 

Quotes from selection panel: “Kenneth’s work developing a JMO-led bedside tutorial program and a JMO-led Friday lecture series, run by Junior Medical Officers for medical students, is an example of the way anyone, despite age or experience, can lead by example to create a culture of teaching where they work.” AMSA President Alex Farrell.



Winner of the AMSA National Award for Excellence in Teaching by an Allied Health Professional, Echocardiographer, Mr David Law (University of New South Wales, Coffs Harbour Hospital)

Quotes from Students:

“David, Coffs Harbour's most prized sonographer- is probably the only teacher I've had who has been able to explain ECGs in a way that makes sense. But more important than that is how he has made the hospital such an inclusive place for medical students to be, welcoming us to catheterisation lab, and always taking the time to explain things to us.”

Published: 26 Nov 2018