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Behind the Curtain with Victoria Brazil: How hard can it be?

At the 2018 Program for Educators, faculty member Victoria Brazil led a professional development session for course faculty intended to prompt reflection on our career trajectories. Victoria asked a series of six questions to our faculty members, and we thought our Harvard Macy blog readers would enjoy hearing Victoria’s answers to the same questions.

Question 1: How do you describe yourself?

I’m a doctor, first – I guess that’s how I think about myself, anyway. My role as an educator is built on my clinical work. So I am lucky to work with many in medical education from an educational background - to complement what I have to offer.

To a professional audience I describe myself as someone who helps health professionals do their work better, together – through simulation, education and helping connect people.

Question 2: What’s your best work?

I think it’s ‘everyday education’ – debriefing a student simulation session, leading a registrar case discussion or supervising an intern on the floor. Mostly that doesn’t get you kudos or publications, but these often require subtle and nuanced assessment of learner needs, competing patient interests and thinking about what kind of doctor we’re trying to make.

I am also happy with the work I’ve done in simulation – the ‘insitu’ sims in improving systems, teamwork and managing complexity in trauma and acute care. I’m currently really enjoying my work as co-producer of Simulcast – as a podcaster and blogger for the healthcare simulation community. I get to do interviews with novice and expert simulation educators, and we do a monthly journal club podcast – a review of the latest in healthcare simulation literature.

Question 3: What has been most helpful in achieving that?

My parents. My mother is a great speaker – she gave me a quick-thinking ability to articulate my thoughts and make connections in conversations. She also told me many things I don’t remember, but one I do – “Self-discipline is better than self-esteem” – work hard and don’t rely on talent. My father is more the ‘strong and silent’ type – but by his everyday actions I got the message that anything was possible – the innate self-reliance of rural Australia meets an illogical but powerful self-belief – ‘how hard can it be?”

Question 4: What’s held you back?

An almost irrational disinterest in senior positions, and a breadth of interest that may have precluded serious expertise in any one area. I wish I’d done a PhD in health professions education – and have such admiration for those that have - but can’t see anywhere in my career that I had the time and commitment. And perhaps strangely, being a doctor – my need to do that clinical work and stay current - has probably held me back from any serious alternative careers.

That’s not a bad thing – we need to do justice to whatever choices we make.

Question 5: Any regrets?

No one knows what a parallel universe might have brought, so – ‘no’.

But I did turn down an offer to do fighter pilot training (in the USA) when I was 16. Who knows……?

Question 6: What about advice to others?

Ah – dangerous ground! I’m not sure I would have taken any of my own advice so why would others…?


For more resources, check out Dr. Brazil’s Annotated Bibliography of related papers

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Comments 1

Todd B Fowler on Wednesday, 08 May 2019 01:48
Hardworking and Humble

Learning from this blog: hardworking is essential to any success/achievement.

Learning from this blog: hardworking is essential to any success/achievement.
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