When the University of Notre Dame students – who form part of the medical student cohort rotating through Cabrini – were asked to vote for the teacher whom they felt was the most enthusiastic, inspiring and helpful, they didn’t hesitate to nominate cardiologist Dr Meroula Richardson.
Dr Richardson is a modest woman who could not say why she should have won the Excellence in Teaching Award, but at the presentation lunch Associate Professor David Brewster, Director of Education at Cabrini and Dean of Cabrini’s Clinical School, was clear on the subject. “It is impossible to run such a program without people like you,” he said. “You have been an inspiring teacher for many years at Cabrini – a great example to the students of how to always respect your patients and treat them with kindness.”
Professor Moyez Jiwa of Notre Dame University expressed his thanks on behalf of his institution and its students. “You don’t often meet clinicians such as you, Meroula. Our students tell us how helpful and inspiring you are, and we are enormously grateful.”
Dr Richardson’s response perhaps indicates why she won: “I think teaching is much more than just conveying medical facts. It’s about demonstrating that those who come through our doors are people before they are patients and should be treated as such. There is good medical treatment and there is good medical care – our goal should always be the latter. The mentors whom I remember from my internship are the ones who demonstrated that to me, and I hope to demonstrate that to the students at Cabrini.”
Having grown up on a farm in Western Australia, she studied medicine in Perth. After graduating, Dr Richardson went to London for two years, working in a heart transplant unit but returned in 1994, when the Alfred Hospital created a consultancy position for her in its groundbreaking heart lung replacement service. She remained there for 16 years during which she, and Drs Peter Bergin and David Kaye, established the heart failure unit. In 2001, she took up a Fellowship in Cardiac Resynchronisation Therapy devices and this remains a sub-speciality for her.
The Monash University students voted a similar award for teaching excellence and they nominated Drs Nick Gelber and Steve Philpot. Both doctors provide outstanding instruction and guidance to medical students. But they, and Meroula, are not alone. Cabrini medical specialists give generously to their students and Associate Professor Brewster expressed his gratitude to them all for their time and efforts in teaching the students of both universities this year.