Meet the expert: Exploring health and interprofessional education with Dr Norman Ng
Published 30 Oct, 2023 · 4-minute read
Dr Norman Ng has worn many hats throughout his life, from personal trainer and auxiliary teacher, to military officer, health promotion officer, researcher, and teacher.
However, it's his current role as a teacher of health, physical education, and interprofessional healthcare education at UQ where he has found his true calling.
He loves helping students reach their full potential, stay curious, and enjoy lifelong learning. As a health educator, he creates an environment that makes learning deep and meaningful for his students.
Establishing connections, showing empathy, active listening and approachability all nurture bonds and transform the learning experience.
Dr Norman Ng
Lecturer, UQ School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences
Preparing students for healthcare collaboration
In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, Norman recognises the importance of training the upcoming generation of professionals for success, especially within collaborative healthcare teams.
"For many students, this course is their first opportunity to meet and learn alongside peers from various disciplines."
"Initially, students study independently using online resources, and then they participate in weekly tutorials specifically designed for cross-disciplinary learning. By working together, they learn to appreciate the unique roles and contributions of different healthcare professionals in treating a patient. This helps them view healthcare more comprehensively, beyond just their specific areas."
"In the process, they also hone vital communication skills, teamwork, and conflict resolution abilities," says Norman.
"It's all part of their journey to becoming well-rounded professionals."
According to Norman, interprofessional practice can have a big impact on the future of health care in several ways.
"Health professionals trained in an interprofessional environment are socialised to work together effectively and can provide more comprehensive care, leading to better patient outcomes and a safer healthcare system," he says.
"Collaborative care can also reduce unnecessary duplication of services and make healthcare delivery more efficient, ultimately lowering healthcare costs."
"Because collaborative care involves experts from many disciplines and interprofessional teams, it can also bring fresh and innovative perspectives to complex healthcare challenges. Additionally, interprofessional practice often leads to increased job satisfaction because working in a supportive, collaborative environment can reduce burnout and make careers more fulfilling."
What is interprofessional education?
Interprofessional education in health care involves students from various healthcare and social care fields learning together. Its purpose is to teach collaboration and teamwork, recognising the unique roles of different professions. This approach ensures that future healthcare professionals can provide patient-centred care, emphasising individual patient needs and values.
Norman's approach to teaching
The experiences from Norman's diverse career enrich his current role as a lecturer. His journey and expertise are woven into his teaching, enhancing his ability to connect with students and create a meaningful and transformative learning experience.
He also emphasises that learning isn’t a one-way street but a social process.
"I learn something new every time I teach," he says.
"Everyone brings with them life lessons and experiences, and when I interact with students, I often gain new insights."
Norman delights in those 'eureka moments' when students connect with the material, appreciating not just the outcome but the journey of discovery and the learning process.
"The most rewarding part of being an educator is the positive and lasting impact I can make on a student," he says.
"I love seeing former students excel in their chosen careers and love the work that they do – knowing that I played a part in someone’s personal and professional growth is incredibly rewarding."
Norman believes there’s more to university education than just obtaining a degree. He remembers how his time at university, specifically while studying for a Bachelor of Arts (Sport Studies), influenced the way he learns. This sparked his interest in research and led him to pursue a PhD in Human Movement Studies.
"My approach to learning, working with others, and handling challenges all comes from my time as a university student and my career as an educator and academic," says Norman.
"I want my students to not just learn facts, but also understand the unspoken lessons which help them become thoughtful, patient-centred healthcare professionals."
Norman is a teacher who values open and meaningful discussion in the classroom.
"I believe that every student has something valuable to contribute, and I want them to feel comfortable in sharing their own unique perspectives and ideas," he says.
"Building an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone feels heard and valued helps foster a collaborative learning experience that benefits everyone involved."
Focusing on research
Norman's dedication to interprofessional education and healthcare is now informing research into how students learn and collaborate effectively in interprofessional learning contexts.
"I’m examining different teaching methods to understand how they influence students' ability to collaborate effectively," he says.
"I'm studying students' views, their preparedness for working with others from different professions, and how to improve their learning experiences."
"The results are helping us create course materials and resources that focus on students, encouraging teamwork and collaboration."
Norman is also engaged in various projects aimed at improving physical activity and overall wellbeing in different aspects of life. For instance, he's exploring ways to manage osteoarthritis through physical activity and lifestyle changes.
He is also keen on encouraging physical activity in workplaces and exploring its role in dealing with chronic conditions.
"Recently, I’ve been interested in understanding how physical activity can improve mental wellbeing and academic success in university students," he says.