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FMHS lecturer chosen as vice-president of SAAHE
Author: FMHS Marketing & Communication / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie – Susan Erasmus
Published: 12/01/2021

Dr Elize Archer has been elected as the vice-president of the Council of the South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE).

"Health Professions Education really is my passion," says Archer, who heads the Simulation and Clinical Skills Unit (SCSU) at the Centre for Health Professions Education at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University. "Being chosen to fulfill this new role really has been the cherry on top after years on involvement in this field."

She has served on the Western Cape Regional Council, the Simulation Special Interest Group, and also as Secretary of the National Council over the last 10 years.

"I am fortunate to have a long history of involvement with SAAHE," says Archer. "This new role I have within SAAHE recognises the contribution that I have made to the SAAHE community over the years, and allows me to network with people from other institutions in a collegial manner." 

The SAAHE is the association of health sciences educators from Southern Africa and its members are from various universities, non-governmental organisations, government and private sector higher education institutions, etc. The focus of SAAHE is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in health sciences education, and to enhance the delivery of high-quality, affordable and sustainable healthcare education. SAAHE was established in 2004 and currently has approximately 350 active members across all regions. There are five regional branches in South Africa, each with two representatives, who sit on the SAAHE Council, as well as a newly formed branch in Zimbabwe.

The aims of SAAHE are as follows:

  • To bring together those involved in the education of healthcare workers in Southern Africa and to promote co-operation and collaboration.
  • To exchange ideas and disseminate information with regard to the education of healthcare workers.
  • To encourage, promote and conduct research into matters concerned with the education of healthcare workers, with the aim of providing better healthcare delivery/service to communities.
  • To establish sub-groups in the association which represent specific interest groups. 

Archer, who is a Critical Care Nurse by training, joined Stellenbosch University in 2005. She previously worked in private and government hospitals, where she was largely responsible for the delivery of Critical Care programmes. She completed her Masters in Higher Education in 2008, and subsequently her PhD in Health Professions Education in 2016.

The focus of her PhD research was the teaching and learning of patient-centeredness in undergraduate medical students. She heads up a team of registered nurses who presents a formalised clinical skills curriculum to the undergraduate MBChB students, as well as provide support to all programmes making use of the SCSU. 

She was awarded a fellowship from the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University in 2017. This three-year fellowship enabled her to spend dedicated time on the design and implementation of initiatives focused on the development of empathic communication skills in undergraduate curricula. To date the topic of clinical empathy and how it is presented in the training of healthcare workers lies very close to her heart.

Her vision for the SAAHE

"My vision for SAAHE is that it becomes the space where everyone who is involved in Health Professions Education (educators, leaners, researchers and policy makers) can meet, in order to promote excellence and scholarship in Health Professions Education."

She notes that in order to achieve this, networking and advertising among all the professions are very important. Another thing that she would like to promote is the establishment of a chapter that includes students into the SAAHE community.

"The work that SAAHE promotes is really close to my heart. To me SAAHE is a platform where I can share ideas and learn from like-minded people. I believe that a platform such as SAAHE can assist all high-performing institutions to be better in what we do. We can share resources and expertise without having to re-invent the wheel every time someone has to deal with a new educational issue," says Archer.  

"The fact that I am the vice-president of SAAHE, and at the same time a staff member at the FMHS, provides me with the opportunity to represent the SU proudly. It provides us as a faculty with the opportunity to be involved in national projects, and not to be left behind in some exciting work that others might be doing," says Archer. 

Photo by Damien Schumann.