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Clare Guilding

Dr Clare Guilding, Director of Education, School of Medical Education, Newcastle University

What is your career pathway to date?

I did a degree and PhD in neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh.  I then worked as a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience/neuropharmacology at the University of Glasgow, then the University of Manchester. In 2011, I moved to the School of Medical Education at Newcastle University, where I held numerous roles, including MBBS Deputy Degree Programme Director, PARTNERS Widening Participation Summer School lead and co-lead for the Clinical Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Prescribing strand.

From January 2017- August 2020 I was Dean of Academic Affairs at Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed), where I had an overall responsibility for quality assurance, assessment, student progress and student support for the MBBS programme.  I also led in the development and delivery of NUMed's staff development programme, and oversaw the Student Association.  I managed the delivery of the first two years of this programme, ensuring that the outcomes and standards were the same as those delivered in Newcastle UK.

In September 2020 I returned to the UK campus and became Lead for Recruitment and Admissions for MBBS, and in March 2021 took on the role of Director of Education for the School of Medical Education.
Externally I am Chair of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology Education Section (IUPHAR-Ed), Deputy Vice President (Academic Development) of the BPS and Deputy Director of the Pharmacology Education Project (PEP).

What do you do, and what is a typical week for you?

I don't have a typical week - the best things about a role in academia is the autonomy it gives you to develop your own portfolio of practice.  This week I've mentored a colleague who is applying for a National Teaching Fellowship, provided pastoral support to medical student tutees, prepared for a Fitness to Practice panel, had discussions to develop a new medical school estate at Newcastle, helped colleagues develop medical education research proposals, developed and circulated the agenda and documentation for the IUPHAR-Ed meeting I'm chairing next week, spoken to the Canadian Pharmacology and Therapeutics Society about the Glossary they are developing and potential links with PEP, was interviewed for a university consultation on effective feedback, had meetings internally and externally to inform the development of a new medicine admissions strategy, and written a funding application to support evaluation of a new Learning Communities initiative we introduced this year.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I like the opportunity to work with colleagues across the university, nationally and internationally. I love teaching students - I do the majority of core pharmacology for the medical students (PK and PD). I also like being able to develop new ideas and strategies, being given the freedom to implement them, then assessing their impact.

How do you see your career progressing in the future?

I've just found out that I'm being promoted to Professor of Medical Education, which will come into effect in August this year (2022). A number of people have asked how this will change what I'm doing, but in the near term I don't think it will, as I've got a lot of exciting projects that are in their early stages which I want to see through. I love working in education in academia and can't think of anywhere else I'd like to be, so the plan is to do more of the same and see where it takes me.

What three pieces of advice would you give someone keen on developing a career in your area of work?

1. Create your own opportunities and network - much of what has developed my career has come from contacting people in fields I was interested in, and offering to help. Back in 2014/15 I introduced myself to the Education team at the BPS.  Having just developed a new pharmacology curriculum within our medicine programme, I wanted to ask if there was anything I could do to help.  As it turns out, the BPS was just starting to develop its own curriculum, so I was invited to get involved.

2. Be inventive and daring.  It can be quite daunting to try something new in teaching, but students love new things, and the worst that happens is that it doesn't work, you learn from it, and move on to the next innovation!

3. Do some CPD to understand education theory and research (e.g. I'm doing a Master's in Medical Education). Moving from being a research scientist to being an educator, I’ve had to learn a new (social science) research language. It's terrifying at first, but once you get into it, it's really useful in informing your practise.

What do you do outside of work?

I have a small family - husband, 9-year-old daughter, and a dog (Vizsla). We live on the coast, East of Newcastle, next to some of the best beaches in the country. In lockdown I started bodyboarding and sea swimming (in the North Sea), which is immense fun, but cold! Last time I went in the sea temperature was just over 5 degrees, and we have also been boarding in hail! I love travel, and working at our Malaysia campus gave us the chance to travel widely. I also really enjoy small music festivals, beer festivals, and cooking!

What do you value most about being a BPS member?

Being a BPS member, attending the conferences and being part of the BPS Education Committee has been massively beneficial for me, both personally and professionally. Finding a tribe of likeminded and supportive colleagues (now friends), within pharmacology education has helped me understand where me and my work fits into the wider academic context. Professionally, the opportunities provided by the BPS to be involved in the development of education initiatives, and the prizes they have given me, including the Educator Award, Rang Prize and Australasian Visitor Award have, I'm sure, helped in my promotion at my university.  The Australasian Visitor Award was an amazing opportunity which allowed me to visit universities across Australia and learn from their educators. ASCEPT has an amazing education community and through attendance at their meetings, and by networking (enabled by the BPS award) I've built connections and relationships leading to work on collaborative international projects.

Social media

Twitter handle: @Dr_Guilding

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clare-guilding-9bbb624b/