Josephine Thomas

Dr Josephine Thomas

Clinical practice domain lead

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


Jo (Josephine) Thomas is a Specialist General Physician and Clinical Pharmacologist. She works in General Internal Medicine at The Royal Adelaide Hospital. She also coordinates a number of programs for the MBBS at The University of Adelaide. She graduated from Flinders University South Australia in 1990 and worked in General Practice in Sydney and Adelaide, before pursuing Physician Training. She is involved in teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students in pharmacy and medicine. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Interprofessional learning.

I am currently undertaking a PhD in Clinical Education. My thesis focuses on research, which examines how prelicensure pharmacy and medicine students perceive interprofessional learning.   The care of multimorbid patients with multiple medications is increasingly common and necessitates a collaborative working relationship between healthcare providers. The traditional relationship between medicine and pharmacy professions is characterised by a strong power differential which may impede collaborative practice and adversely impact patient care. Healthcare students from different professional backgrounds are often brought together under the banner of Interprofessional Education in an effort to improve collaborative practice. How the power differential between these professions impacts on interprofessional learning is not well understood. Overall, a more nuanced understanding of what pre-registration students think and experience in learning with students from another professional group is needed. 

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 - 2019 Academic Lead for development of the Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine program Unversity of Adelaide
    2017 - 2018 MBBS Program Coordinator Adelaide Medical School
    2010 Clinical Studies Advisor- Senior Lecturer in Clinical Education/Medicine University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2014 Deputy Director of Clinical training Royal Adelaide Hospital
    2006 Staff Specialist in General Medicine Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2018 Recognition Medicine Writing Group Chair, AMC Clinical Assessment Panel Australian Medical Council Australia
    2017 Fellowship Awarded fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators 2017 Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators 2017 Australia
    2016 Award Mark Bonnin Teaching Award University of Adelaide Australia
    2016 Award Executive Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (level C) University of Adelaide Australia
    2015 Teaching Award Mark Bonnin Teaching award University of Adelaide Australia
    2013 Teaching Award Mark Bonnin Award University of Adelaide Australia
    2012 Teaching Award Mark Bonnin Award University of Adelaide Australia
    2011 Teaching Award Professor Derek Frewin AO Citation University of Adelaide Australia
    2010 Teaching Award Professor Derek Frewin AO Citation for Clinical Teaching University of Adelaide Australia
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1983 - 1990 Flinders University, Adelaide Australia B.M. B.S.
  • Postgraduate Training

    Date Title Institution Country
    2005 - 2007 Fellowship Royal Australasian College Physicians (Clinical Pharmacology) Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney Australia
    2000 - 2005 Fellowship Royal Australasian College Physicians (General Medicine) Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney Australia
    1992 - 1997 Fellowship Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, East Melbourne Australia
  • Research Interests

As an active clinician I am passionate about the practice of medicine and seek to inspire students to practice to the best of their ability. As a clinical educator I seek to utilise effective learning techniques and to maximise experiential learning. I believe in providing students with a range of learning opportunities and styles to cater for the different learning styles of a diversity of learners. Therefore, I like to provide a mixture of online modules, face-to-face tutorials, didactic sessions and practical sessions in order to facilitate the learning of all students.

Developing a lifelong practice of self-directed learning is a requirement to maintain currency for practice in medicine. Therefore, I believe a graded approach to self-reliance and increasing responsibility is useful. It is vital to treat students as adult learners. In particular, acknowledging prior learning and transferable skills is important in reinforcing the value of students’ opinions, encouraging independence and the facilitating development of professional identity. This is most important in the later years of the medical program, where students have a range of relevant experiences to draw on from the clinical learning environment and their life experience.

Clinical Education requires a safe environment for learning, which minimises any harm to patients but allows learners to develop skills. Building a culture of safety involves:  opportunities for simulation and practice before undertaking procedures on patients; empowering students to speak up when they are uncertain or have concerns about safety; providing clear guidance for scope of practice; utilising all team members in clinical learning. My commitment to interprofessional learning and interprofessional practice is part of this philosophy.  

I see reflection as a valuable tool to maximise learning, it is particularly beneficial where there has been some challenge to the student’s values and attitudes in the learning activity. It can facilitate resolution of this dissonance, facilitate deeper levels of learning, and helps to build resilience (which is valuable for developing a robust health professional). I incorporate reflection where appropriate to enhance learning activities, either as a formative activity (eg debrief after clinical encounters) or as a more formal assignment. I am explicit with students about the value of reflection, in order to promote this as a tool for professional life.

I believe my enthusiasm for clinical medicine and diagnosis is a catalyst for students to develop their own interest in learning. My willingness to debate diagnoses and discuss clinical cases stimulates student interest in further learning. I take care to point students toward additional resources, which are of high quality, so that their further reading is valuable and time efficient.

I coordinate the Transition to internship course in the final year of the MBBS, which aims to prepare students for work as an intern. In the 2017 National survey of Intern work readiness the University of Adelaide performed very well: The survey asked questions with regard to 45 skills in eight skill groups. University of Adelaide medical school achieved an overall perceived preparedness score of 4.22 (which was significantly above the national average of 3.8).

One of the innovative teaching activities I have introduced  in year 3 clinical practice course is the “cancer voices” workshop. This is a collaboration with Cancer voices SA and involves people affected by a cancer diagnosis (patients and carers) sharing their story with a small group of students. The aim is to increase student awareness of the impact of a cancer diagnosis; enable them to appreciate a patient perspective and potentially adopt changes in practice as a result of their learning. Students complete a guided reflection to enhance their learning from the experience.

  • Position: Clinical practice domain lead
  • Phone: 83132746
  • Email: josephine.thomas@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 4
  • Org Unit: Adelaide Medical School

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