Josephine Thomas

Josephine Thomas

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Jo (Josephine) Thomas is a Specialist General Physician, Clinical Pharmacologist and Educator. She is the Clinical Dean for Adelaide Medical School at Northern Adelaide Local Health Network. She has a long term involvement in education and training, with strong connections across SA and nationally. Her PhD in Medical Education completed in 2020, focused on interprofessional education research, She remains involved in teaching undergraduate and postgraduate medicine and pharmacy and with a strong interest in interprofessional learning. Jo has taught coordinated and developed a number of courses in the MBBS at The University of Adelaide, including development and coordination of the Transition to internship course and leading development of the B. Med Studies/ MD program framework. Jo graduated from Flinders University South Australia in 1990 and worked in General Practice in Sydney and Adelaide, before pursuing Physician Training. She is a passionate clinician educator with a commitment to high-quality teaching, training, and clinical service delivery.

I hold a PhD in Medical Education, which I completed in 2020 in the School of Psychology. My thesis focuses on research, which examines how prelicensure pharmacy and medicine students perceive interprofessional learning.  I have broad interests in research in Interprofessional learning and Medical Education. I use predominantly qualitative methods (as well as quantitative and mixed methods).

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 - ongoing Clinical Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    2019 - ongoing Director Physician Education SA Health
    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 - 2019 Clinical Studies Advisor- Senior Lecturer in Clinical Education/Medicine University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2014 Deputy Director of Clinical training Royal Adelaide Hospital
    2006 - ongoing 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
    2020 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    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 developed and coordinated the Transition to internship course in the final year of the MBBS, for 10 years. The course 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.

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