It’s easy to see why Dr. Stan Feinberg, Medical Director of the Ambulatory and Cancer Care Program, is winning teaching awards. When he talks about medical education at North York General Hospital, he is both excited and self-effacing: eager to talk about the program in which he teaches, not so eager to talk about his awards.
“Yes, I’ve been recognized,” allows Dr. Feinberg, who recently received a special commendation for teaching from the University of Toronto. “And it’s very nice to be recognized. But I have to point out the environment I’m in has made these awards possible.”
The environment he is referring to is North York General’s Surgery Program, a leader in the province for surgical wait times and a highly-sought after rotation in general surgery for University of Toronto residents.
“It’s one of the most popular rotations in the city for many reasons,” Dr. Feinberg says. “One reason is that the teaching environment offers so much opportunity. Another is that we simply get along and we have a lot of respect for our residents.”
In fact, residents who manage to secure a rotation are exposed to a high-volume centre for breast and gastroenterological cancer, linked to a busy, high-functioning Emergency Department. Despite the patient volumes, the number of learners within the program is relatively low, offering ample educational opportunities for all.
It’s this environment that allows teachers such as Dr. Stan Feinberg to thrive and the learners experience possibly some of the best medical education in the province.
“The key to being a good teacher is that you actually have to want to teach,” Dr. Feinberg says. “There’s a big time commitment and everyone has a lot of work to do. It’s also about finding a good fit of personalities, which is what we try to do in this program. Not every student fits perfectly with their teacher’s personality, and that’s really okay. Let’s find the right fit.”
At the end of the day, according to Dr. Feinberg, the relationship between teacher and learner at North York General is symbiotic. “When you’re teaching a self-starter, they will bring forward questions and articles to help you better care for a patient,” he says. “They often identify solutions to problems. It becomes more of a partnership of care.”