Celebrating 500 Fellows at Swansea University – our newest Principal Fellow

Angharad Davies

For me, the key to Principal Fellowship is educational leadership firmly embedded in the context of my profession and underpinned by subject experience.

About you

I’m Angharad Davies, a clinical associate professor and honorary consultant medical microbiologist at the medical school. I have been teaching in various healthcare-related settings for over twenty years, first during my time in specialist clinical training and as an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow, and then here in Swansea. In particular I am interested in teaching on antimicrobial use and resistance, which has become a major threat to healthcare systems globally. In addition to my teaching roles for medical students and others in the medical school I also teach a wide range of healthcare professionals from across Wales and have a UK national role as the Royal College of Pathologists’ joint lead for Undergraduate and Foundation Education. I am Health and Care Research Wales’ Specialty Lead for Infection and a member of Council of the Academy of Medical Educators.

Why did gaining Fellowship recognition matter to you? Why apply?

In clinical practice, historically teaching has tended to be taken for granted as something that everyone ‘just does’ as part of their wider clinical role, and has not always been valued as a specific skill. This is changing gradually, for example with the creation of the Academy of Medical Educators. After I had been in my Royal College role for a while, and been asked to undertake a number of other external roles, I realised that I no longer ‘just did’ teaching but actually had extensive experience of education within my discipline, at hospital, university and national level. Educational experience should be recognised just as we value clinical experience, to ensure students receive teaching which is informed by best practice both clinically and educationally. My decision to apply for Principal Fellowship was a reflection of this.

What did you “glean” from the process of preparing an application with reference to the UK PSF?

I found the application process very constructive. Having to consider evidence for each of the UK PSF descriptors for Principal Fellowship really made me think about my educational practice holistically. It helped me to see clearly how it fits into the context of my academic and clinical practice as a whole, in a way I hadn’t really considered before. All the activities I am involved with – such as clinical practice, clinical research, my involvement in a range of equalities work – support and contribute to my educational role and are interlinked, not disparate unrelated activities. My Principal Fellowship application drew all these threads together.

How it has impacted the way in which you think about educating learners in the Higher Education environment?

For me it has crystallised the value and impact of practice-driven teaching.

What is the most important element of the UKPSF in your opinion – the Areas of Activity, Core Knowledge or Professional Values – or any particular one and why?

They are all important, but for me ultimately it has to be core knowledge. This is what defines one’s discipline; without it, one would not have much of value to share with students and it is enthusiasm for the subject material that makes a successful educator. The other elements are developed around that.

What were good parts of the application process? What things were more challenging?

The process was challenging, but in a positive way. At first I thought I would struggle to write 7000 words but by the end of the process I had to cut ruthlessly! As described above, it helped me to see my academic practice as whole and put all its elements into an overall context. The SALT team provides excellent support to those applying for Fellowship at all levels.

In particular I am grateful to Prof Jane Thomas who helped me understand the requirements and gave me the confidence to proceed.

How you have continued to apply the standards of the UK PSF in your work since gaining that recognition? i.e. maintaining good standing.

I was only awarded Principal Fellowship recently but since then have run a week-long CPD course for healthcare staff. I had attended a British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy study day just the week before which outlined new state-of-the-art therapeutic developments. I was able to incorporate that information into my own teaching material so that it was completely up-to-the-minute. This field is changing very rapidly so my own CPD is really crucial.

For someone not sure about applying, what words of encouragement could you offer?

If you are active in teaching in HE, Fellowship at the appropriate level is not only good to have in your portfolio but is a very useful process in itself for analysing what you are doing and why. The requirement for reflective writing encourages you to think about aspects of your practice which you may be unconscious of or take for granted – it certainly really impacted on my outlook. The SALT team members are extremely helpful and approachable and you will be well supported.

What top tips would you offer to someone preparing a Fellowship application – any category?

Set yourself a firm deadline – it’s easy for more ‘urgent’ work constantly to take priority. Taking advantage of the SALT writing retreats can help with this.

What’s the key criterion for you about being a Principal Fellow?

For me, the key to Principal Fellowship is educational leadership firmly embedded in the context of my profession and underpinned by subject experience.

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